Here are a few things that I learned about myself that helped me a lot recover from my burn out and stay healthy. Questions I couldn’t answer before my burn out or I knew about it but didn’t apply it. 

How do you recharge? What do you do to regain energy?

For example, I need proper down time. Time for myself so I can be with alone with my thoughts and can reflect on my day/life. This could be a morning run or watching TV. Something light & funny where I can really switch my brain off. Refocusing or distracting myself is another thing that I do to recharge. Before going to be I normally read my book. I am interested in global politics, history and different countries and cultures. As this can be rather heavy reading and not often positive I mix it up with reading a biography or autobiography by some footballer or football manager I liked. Important for me is to have something that helps me switch my brain to a different topic other than work. I also like spending time with my family. This is a bit more engaging, but also very rewarding. I think understanding how to manage your energy levels is important. Also applying that knowledge is a must. 

Are you a pleaser?

I am a pleaser! Understanding that and what it means helped me a lot. My wife is an hardcore extrovert. So my wife loves doing a million things, is constantly on the go and is meeting a thousand people a day. She wanted to drag me along where ever she went. I didn’t want to disappoint her so I went everywhere with her. Only when I understood that pleasing my wife was draining my energy I had a talk with my wife regarding our activities and because my wife is the best person in the world she understood and now we discuss what we do and I only join in now and again. Obviously there are many examples of wanting to please people in all walks of life. I wanted to give an example to show that you need to address all areas of your life in order to get and remain healthy. 

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Introverts & extroverts recharge differently. Example: My wife is an extrovert and I’m an introvert. We were invited to a housewarming party of friends. I enjoyed being around lots of the folks, we had a few drinks and stayed for a couple of hours. Slowly but surely I had enough and wanted to go. My wife though just got started. Afterall she didn’t speak with everyone yet. I still managed to convince her to go because I was getting tired. As we were walking to the car she asked me if I fancied going to the cinema. It was 10pm, if we hurried up we could still make it… she was completely energized and I was dead on my feet. 

Personality type? Insights.

At the last company I worked for we did a personality type test. I’m the empathic analyst who likes harmony. That wasn’t news to me. I always knew I’m empathic and have good analytical skills. I knew harmony is important to me, but what I didn’t know were 2 things. 1. That I really really don’t like conflict. I don’t like to have an argument with someone and I don’t like it when two other friends/colleagues are in conflict with each other. 2. There are some folks out there that don’t give a shit about harmony. Some folks even consider it helpful and a need to progress to be disruptive and start having an argument for the sake of it.

The conclusion of the first learning is that you need to learn to deal with a conflict even if you don’t want to. We encounter so many interactions with so many people throughout our lives that it’s natural that sooner or later you will have some kind of an argument. Even if you’re a pleaser and don’t like arguments you can’t always retreat. It’s not healthy to constantly give in and never stand up for yourself. Not even with your partner, parents or kids you’ll agree 100% of the time.

The conclusion of the second learning is to not take things personally. If someone has a go at you most of the time they are having a go at your argument or your position, not you as a person. If your confident in your argument and made your mind up that what you said or the position you took is the right one, then you should feel comfortable discussing that. Make your mind up about your opinion and stick to your guns. Or if someone convinces you otherwise be brave enough to admit you were wrong. There is nothing wrong with that.

Be in control of your energy levels.

Realizing when you need to say stop and recharge is key. Don’t be nice and say yes to something you don’t have the capacity to do. If you do that now and again that is ok, but too often and you end up using your energy on things that are not your priority. Then you won’t have the energy to do what you want or need to do. 

Know your boundaries in terms of Time, Skill and Energy.

Time: Everyone’s day is 24h long. In a competitive world where one deadline chases the next, we need to be able to allocate the time given to us wisely. According to our time restraints.

Skill: If you are out of your depth, doing something you weren’t trained or taught to do, this can be exhausting over a long period of time. Taking on tasks you’re not familiar with is generally fine. After all mostly learning a new skill is often done by “learning by doing” or being out of your comfort zone. And in to a certain extent this is fine. Being constantly out of your comfort zone could result in you burning out. Don’t be shy to take on new tasks even if you don’t know exactly how they are supposed to be done, but also don’t be too shy or proud to ask for help or guidance from your superiors. 

Energy: Everyone’s energy is runs out at one point. The trick is to not let it run too low for too long. You wouldn’t let your phone run out of batterie would you? The key is to know how you recharge and when to start recharging. 

How do you let of steam?

I played football for 30 years. That was perfect for me. Running around, being fit and also being good at something. On top of that, I had my dose of socializing. If I wasn’t happy with something I could shout around.  Have a go at my teammates for being out of position or telling the referee that he was wrong again. After 30 years of football a back injury forced me to stop playing. Having to stop playing football was devastating for me and I’m convinced that having to stop contributed to my burn out. I didn’t have a balance that I used to have anymore. Make no mistake. Continuing to play football would not stop me from having a burn out. If you have an issue, with yourself, your partner, at work or where ever. You have to deal with it. Playing football was part of a healthy work life balance, but not a substitute or solution to my problems.