'Burnout coach' shares how embracing boredom can help you recover from work stress
Repetition and consistency can create a mini miracle.
If your job makes you feel burned out, you’re not alone. A recent poll of 10,243 workers in 6 countries found that 40% of respondents were burned out. The World Health Organization defines burnout as an “increased mental distance from one’s job,” feelings of depression and negativity.
The people most likely to be experiencing burnout are those ages 18 to 29, and women reported higher levels of burnout (46%) than men (37%).
Gabriela Flax, a self-described burnout coach, says the best prescription for people who feel like they’ve sacrificed their mental health for their job is a hefty dose of boredom. Flax was once a product manager who had to find a better work balance after suffering migraines, panic attacks and constant exhaustion from work.
Flax believes that people suffering from burnout often enter patterns of self-neglect, all in the name of career success. She adds that by creating new patterns that some would call boring or repetitive, people can regain their sense of self.
Burnt out? Be boring 🤗
Burnt out? Be boring 🤗 When we are burnt out, the decision making part of our brain is offline. This makes simple decisions like what to eat or wear near impossible & makes us feel even worse. The first thing I do with those I help overcome burnout & regain vitality for life is assess how to make their life BORING! This helps to lessen the immediate overwhelm and create space for deeper healing. #burnout #burnoutrecovery #burnoutrecoverycoach #burnoutcoach #chronicstressrecovery
“When we are experiencing burnout, the part of our brains that make decisions is offline," Flax says. "Even something as simple as deciding what to wear today, what to have for lunch, what movie to book at the weekend. All of that becomes really, really difficult for our brains to process."
To help her clients counter the feeling of being disconnected from their needs, Flax tells them to keep things simple. "What we do is we're like, ‘we're gonna get three of the same T-shirt, we're gonna get three of the same pairs of jeans,’" she says. “‘Therefore, you don't even have to really worry about laundry right now; we're doing laundry maybe once a week.’"
This “boring” approach to life also extends to people’s diets. She recommends that those who are burned out eat the same things for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “That way, you're still getting your meals in. You're fueling yourself, but you don't have to think about what you're going to cook.”
Then, what begins as a series of simple, predictable changes evolves into a new cycle of positivity.
“The repetition and consistency of doing things and proving to yourself that you can get dressed and proving to yourself that you can still feed yourself, it actually starts to build up a little bit of confidence that starts to pull you out of that burnout,” Flax says.
In a recent article published by SWNS, Flax expanded her “boring list” of small changes to make to kickstart a new cycle of confidence. They are designed to cut down on the number of decisions you have to make and tasks to accomplish for a much-needed mental break.
1. Purchase a 10-pack of identical pairs of socks.
2. Organize clothing into two baskets: one for clean items and another for dirty laundry
3. Take photos of things you commonly buy at the grocery store for future reference.
4. Use disposable plates and utensils to make mealtime simple
5. Put your phone on focus mode
6. Put your favorite dishes on delivery apps to make dinner easier
7. Create a group chat group with “need to know” people
8. Acquire an automatic feeder for your dog
9. Buy coordinated outfits to make it easier to get dressed
10. Remove the middle sheet on your bed for easier bed-making