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Hello Idaho: Recognizing and reducing 'pandemic burnout'

The editors of Life Time's Experience Life magazine share strategies from the experts.

The stress and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us feeling exhausted lately. 

"When stressful situations outpace our chances to recover, it can lead to burnout," said Jamie Martin, editor-in-chief of Experience Life magazine, published by Life Time. "Our brains like certainty, clarity, and organization – during a pandemic this is thrown out the window, as threat stimuli are seemingly constant."

Martin says besides exhaustion, other signs of burnout can include physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, back pain and others; feelings of cynicism are also common, along with decreased motivation and difficulty staying focused or prioritizing tasks.

Experience Life magazine spoke to several experts about reducing pandemic burnout, and Martin offers these tips:

Get to know yourself

"Check in with yourself throughout the day," Martin suggests. "This can be as simple as pausing for 10 seconds to check in with how you feel when you wake up, when you’re making a meal, when you wash your hands, and so on. Pay attention to what triggers you and where your limits are."

Have self-compassion

"Being hard on yourself is its own form of stress, so try to notice where perfectionism and overachieving may be adding to your load."

Try to prioritize rest and mindfulness

"Sleep is critical to stress-recovery, but rest is also important and short breaks count. Try building in breaks regularly throughout the day to build resilience."

Incorporate movement into your day

"The fight-or-flight response can fill us with the urge to do something, just as a way to burn off energy. Try channeling this impulse into short periods of structured movement: take a walk, do some yoga, clean a drawer."

Limit media and connect thoughtfully

"Endless reading about the pandemic can compound the effects of burnout. Our brains need breaks to avoid overstimulation. If you want to really rejuvenate, take at least one day a week entirely away from screens."

"The strategies that for you will depend on your individual needs," Martin suggests. "Be willing to try a few things and then come back to the ones that feel most supportive and restorative to you right now."

For more information about burnout and tips to recover, check out the full article at Experiencelife.com.

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