Follow This “Anti-Burnout Schedule” To Feel Like There Are More Hours In The Day

In today’s fast-paced world, the constant struggle to balance work, relationships, and self-care often leaves us feeling as if time slips through our fingers. It’s not uncommon to wish for more hours in the day to accomplish our goals and fulfill our responsibilities. However, this endless desire to “keep up” and “do more” can push us to burn the candle at both ends, leading to burnout.

Overcoming burnout doesn’t need to require succumbing to exhaustion or cutting off all ties to the outside world. Instead, I believe that feeling like there are more hours in the day comes down to optimizing your routine with a functional medicine approach. 

What really happens when you’re burned out

Before we can overcome burnout, we have to understand what it is—and what it isn’t. Characterized by physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion as a result of prolonged stress and overwork, burnout typically manifests as a sense of depletion. When you’re burned out, you may feel symptoms of fatigue, overwhelm, lack of motivation, and cynicism.

While society tends to only focus on the emotional side of burnout, as a functional medicine practitioner, I understand that burnout is also caused by a dysregulation of your body’s HPA-axis. When this happens, an ongoing release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline is triggered. This can impact hormone balance, immune function, gut health, and inflammation levels that lead to the burnout symptoms we are all too familiar with, like fatigue, anxiety, weakened immunity, depression, trouble sleeping, digestive distress, and more.

Your anti-burnout routine

This daily routine addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of burnout to help you reclaim your health and redeem your time. Follow it to feel like you have more hours in the day—without adding a ton more to your to-do list.

Morning

Crafting a morning routine can significantly impact the way you perceive the hours in a day and lay the foundation for less stress:

  • Wake up with the light: We humans are meant to wake with natural light exposure, but it’s not always realistic to start your day outside. Dawn simulators and sunrise alarm clocks work by mimicking the rising sun to gradually increase your exposure to light in order to gently wake you up, reset your circadian rhythm, promote better sleep quality, and enhance your energy levels.
  • Start a mindfulness practice: Dedicating a few minutes each morning to mindfulness or meditation can help re-center you in the present moment, put you in a positive mindset, and start off the day less stressed, which can have a positive snowball effect as the day goes on.
  • Eat a nutrient-dense breakfast: A cup of coffee and a bagel or pastry is the ideal breakfast for many people on-the-go. While this combo is delicious and easy to eat on the run, it isn’t doing you any favors when it comes to beating burnout. Instead, opt for something like a protein-forward frittata topped with healthy-fat and fiber-rich avocado (that can be made in advance and reheated). Unlike quick-burning carbs that give you a quick energy boost but leave you crashing later, healthy fats, fiber, and protein give you sustained energy and support optimal brain function so you are ready to tackle the day with more efficiency.
  • Prioritize your tasks: Create a list of your top priorities for the day, from most challenging or important to the least. Tackling the tasks at the top of your list during your peak energy periods in the morning for many individuals) can enhance your productivity and sense of accomplishment. If mornings aren’t your thing, schedule your most important tasks around the most productive hours of your day.

Midday

Feeling an overwhelming afternoon slump, when your energy levels take a strong dip after lunch, is common in those suffering from burnout and adrenal fatigue. Here’s what you can do to overcome that once and for all: 

  • Be mindful of caffeine: A second or third cup of coffee in the late afternoon may seem like just the thing you need to wake you up, but it can seriously wreck some people’s adrenal function and sleep. Try eating a snack instead that is loaded with healthy fats, like homemade fat bombs or mixed nuts, to curb any afternoon sweet cravings and wake up your brain for the second half of the day.
  • Implement strategic work-break cycles: Trying the Pomodoro Technique or similar work-break cycles can help you maintain focus and productivity. This technique involves working for a set period, such as 25 minutes, then taking a short break before another 25-minute work period.
  • Get moving: Engaging in physical activity not only boosts energy levels, but it can also boost your production of happy neurotransmitters like dopamine. Whether it’s with a yoga break or a brisk walk during your lunch hour, getting movement in during the afternoon can improve your mood and reset your mindset for more productivity.

Evening

As the day winds down, transitioning into an evening routine that promotes relaxation and restful sleep becomes crucial. Stress makes you lose sleep, and lost sleep makes you more stressed. These simple steps can help you put an end to this feedback loop.

  • Say good night to technology: Blue light from your phone or computer can actually inhibit melatonin production necessary for a restful night’s sleep. Limiting screen time in the evening is the best way to support healthy melatonin levels (and encourage healthy boundaries with work and social media), but if you can’t unplug completely, wearing amber-colored glasses can help mitigate your blue light exposure. 
  • Try supplements: Supplements can help address the underlying physiological causes of burnout and help you beat burnout from the inside out. I love magnesium for sleep since this nutrient acts as fuel for the GABA receptors that help regulate your body’s sleep system.
  • Practice gratitude: It can be easy to get caught up with what went wrong during the day, and we forget to acknowledge what went right. But anxiety and gratitude can’t exist in your brain at the same time. End your day by listing out one to three things in your head or on paper that you were grateful for today and see how it calms your mind.

The takeaway

The physical and mental symptoms of burnout are very real. Making changes that address underlying dysfunctions and support your body’s natural rhythms can profoundly impact your productivity and mental state, helping you feel more accomplished without needing more hours in the day.

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3 Responses to Follow This “Anti-Burnout Schedule” To Feel Like There Are More Hours In The Day

  1. Maryam January 11, 2024 at 10:05 am

    Thanks for this
    It came at the right time

    Reply
  2. Iyanuoluwa Isinkaye January 15, 2024 at 9:37 am

    This is something special! Thank you

    Reply
  3. Rachael January 17, 2024 at 4:11 am

    This is on point. Thanks ma’am

    Reply

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