5 Ways to avoid burnout during the busy season

When work is easy to find and pays well, it’s tempting to sign up for as many shifts as possible. And if you need extra money for holiday gifts or travel, it can be especially enticing. But if you take on too much, you can quickly get burnt out.

Finding a balance between work, rest, and leisure can be challenging, but it's important. After all, your friends and family want you to be there for them this holiday season!

Keep these five things in mind during this busy season to stay healthy, happy, and productive.

Wait — what’s burnout? 

Burnout happens when you take on more than you can handle and become overwhelmed. Often, this is the result of an overly demanding workload. The Mayo Clinic explains that a burnt-out employee:

  • May have trouble focusing on their work
  • May not feel proud of work that they used to enjoy
  • May feel a sense of dread about getting started for the day
  • May have trouble sleeping
  • May experience stomach or headaches
  • May start abusing substances like alcohol

Having coworkers, family, and friends that support you can really help. But good self-care habits are important, too. Make sure that you:

1.  Build balance into your schedule

Overbooking yourself is one of the quickest ways to burn out. Be careful about scheduling too many double shifts or back-to-back gigs for days on end, even if they pay well.

It might seem like a good way to earn money fast, but you don't want to feel exhausted before you even clock in for your next shift. Even if you make more in the short term, it can cost you down the road. When you don't have time to recover after a shift, your performance often suffers. As a result, you may not do as good of a job as you want. You could even get poor reviews from your employer. And it could discourage you from signing up for more shifts later on.

So give yourself time to rest and recharge after each shift. Remember, you deserve to feel good at work! Keeping an even pace helps you stay productive, motivated, and positive about work.

2. Create a good sleep routine

When you're caring for children, you often create a nighttime routine before bed. Kids might get a bath, a story, or even a cup of hot chocolate as they wind down and ease into sleep. Adults deserve a relaxing bedtime routine too, but most of us don’t put any effort into it.

The truth is, sleep is just as important for adults as it is for kids. Good sleep “can greatly improve mood, overall health, and well-being,” says the American Sleep Association.

Sometimes it’s hard to relax. Evenings get busy. After work and chores are done, you might feel like you just need time to unwind. You might even force yourself to stay up when you’re tired to extend your free time, whether that’s watching a favorite show or scrolling social media. 

But by creating an evening routine, you’ll sleep better, which will make you feel better. Just think: What if you treated yourself to the kind of nighttime routine we give kids?

Sample sleep routine:

  • Aim to go to bed at the same time each night, targeting a goal of 7-8 hours of sleep
  • Relax with a bath or a shower
  • Turn off screens 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime
  • Calm your mind with an activity like deep breathing, reading, or listening to relaxing music

Getting good sleep can be a game-changer, so don't disregard it this hectic holiday season!

3. Eat well & regularly

A good diet is another key part of taking care of yourself. It helps you feel energized and keeps your immune system healthy. Eating three good meals a day can be hard if you’re a caregiver, busy with work, or surrounded by unhealthy food at your job — but it’s worth it. We ask a lot of our bodies, so they deserve to be well-fed. Resist the urge to skip meals, even on hectic days. And try to fuel up on the foods that make your body happy.

Meal prepping, or cooking all your meals at once so you can enjoy leftovers throughout the week, can be especially helpful for busy people. Remember, it doesn’t have to be expensive — with just a little effort, you can create a tasty, affordable food plan. Stock up on foods that keep you feeling energized, strong, and focused. Brown rice, for example, is a hearty, affordable superfood. Serve it up with lentils or a lean protein like salmon for a quick, delicious, and healthy meal. Oatmeal is another superfood that’s cheap and easy. You can even make it overnight in a slow cooker, so it’s ready when you get up for work.

Want some more ideas for affordable, nutritious eating? Turn to food blogs like Budget Bytes or the r/EatCheapAndHealthy subreddit for inspiration.

4. Tag in your support network

Coworkers can be a lifesaver in the middle of a busy period. Even if you and your colleagues are different people, you still have a lot in common while you’re on the clock. 

If you pick up shifts on Instawork, you might not have as many regular coworkers as most people. But the people you work with can still understand your day-to-day life in a way others can't. 

Don't be afraid to tap into that support system when you need it. Having a coworker that can help you on the job, listen to you, or even just chat with you can be huge. And if something urgent comes up, they may even be able to help cover a shift for you

Don't forget to make time for the friends and family members who make you feel loved and understood. Consider starting a group chat, catching up on Facetime, or inviting the gang over for a game night. It may feel hard when you’re tired after a long week, but those emotional connections can revitalize you.

5. Treat yourself

Money can be tight during the holidays, but little rewards can help you get through those long hours. That might mean indulging in a Monday morning latte or treating yourself to a home spa day. You don't have to buy or do anything expensive — just something that brings a smile to your face. It might seem small, but having a little treat to look forward to after a long shift can really help keep you going.

And remind yourself that you're doing important work this holiday season. You're providing for yourself and your family while helping companies and their customers. And soon enough, you'll be able to take a well-deserved break to relax and celebrate. When in doubt, just remind yourself: You're working hard, doing a great job, and you can make it through this busy season!