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Millennial Burnout – 3 Coping Mechanisms

We’ve seen the articles and probably all said the words: “I’m burnt out.”
In fact, we may be saying it way more often than just in passing when we’re feeling stressed every few months. We’re saying it all the time; symptomatic of a chronic condition.

Something’s gotta give. Between our 9-5s, side hustles, freelance contracts, upskilling, and generally being expected to be wired to each other 24/7, it’s no wonder that everywhere feels like a workspace. This is fantastic for mobility but awful for stress.

The definition of burnout has actually been updated by the World Health Organisation, reflecting its basis in work: “[burnout is a] syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The true menace of burnout is that it leaks out beyond our desks (literal and figurative) into every corner of our lives, even to the point of feeling unable to cope with menial tasks. ‘Adulting’ related anxiety and errand paralysis are a couple of the markers of true ‘millennial burnout’- affecting 22-36-year-olds who are overworked, over-applied, overcommitted, over comparative, and struggling to overcome.

Whether you’re a millennial or not, chances are you feel overworked- or at least on the cusp of being overworked- pretty often. Here are some ways to cope:

Seek person-to-person contact. As Smith, Segal, and Robinson write for HelpGuide, “Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress…” If you’re feeling burnt out, it’s important to reach out to loved ones and explain your circumstances. Better yet, invest in your workplace friendships or start cementing ones. Chances are if you’re burnt out, so are your deskmates! Having comrades in arms really helps to buffer against feeling alone in workplace stress.

Simplify your to-do list. We all have a to-do list. Whether it’s mental, on paper, in-app form, or all three at once, it can be incredibly overwhelming to think about how many boxes are left to tick. Simplifying the list by creating hierarchies of urgency or only including vital items can truly help to reduce the feeling of constant paralysis associated with burnout.

Practice self-care, even in tiny doses. Of course, it’s unrealistic to set aside time for a full spa day every week, or bimonthly minibreaks- especially if you’re burning the candle at both ends. This makes micro-dosing mindfulness absolutely essential. Setting aside just 3 minutes to meditate in the morning, having a cup of herbal tea while working, or doing crossword puzzles on your commute can help to bring moments of balance to your hectic mind and schedule.

Burnout, millennial or otherwise, can feel like an epidemic. Though permanently dealing with it may take medical help and/or a serious adjustment of your working experience, establishing small habits like these can help us all get back to ourselves when we feel like we’re floundering. What do you do to prevent burnout?