How to develop a healthy mindset (+ not burn out in your 20s)


this blog post is part of a series, #oneblogpostaday.

the first part of this series is focused on wellness + longevity.

In our world today where productivity is the gold star we’re all rewarded for - it can feel like every day is a constant battle to getting sh*t done.

And that line of work never ends.

It might feel like you’re on a hamster wheel: every day it takes an insurmountable effort to just show up. Maybe it’s because you’ve been working every weekend since forever. Or maybe there’s a weird thing going on with your boss that results in a ton of unnecessary pressure.

Whatever it is, burnout happens to the best of us. And no matter how hard we wish, it won’t go away by itself.

According to research, burnout has three aspects: emotional exhaustion, lower feelings of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. In regular person terms that means that we get angrier, sicker, sadder, more tired and more lonely.

That’s definitely not thriving.

Think about it from a scientific perspective: our bodies we have two important systems that regulate our level of stress. Our sympathetic nervous system is our fight-or-flight response. It helped us back in the day when tigers were hiding near our home and we needed to GTFO. And it’s only supposed to be “on” when something really scary or intense is happening.

Our parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand controls homeostasis (remember that word?!) - or “rest and digest” as the experts call it. This is responsible for our everyday life.

But, during burnout - or basically being a human nowadays - our sympathetic nervous system is always activated. It’s on when we’re running to the train if we’re late for a meeting, or when a client needs that deck pronto.

And that constant activation leads to a ton of health issues - both mental and physical.

So, let’s turn that around right now. We don’t want to be burned out, stressed out adults, do we?

1. Slow down + chill out

In order to bounce back from burnout, we need to replenish what we’ve lost. That means actually taking some time to slow down.

Often, our bodies give us clues if we’re on the verge of a burnout: we get sick. But, if we ignore that sickness and “push through” as we’re taught we’re supposed to - we continue risking further and further illness.

So, take a step back. Shore up on sleep. Tune out those emails and cancel meetings as needed (I know, easier said than done). But, really take some time - whether it’s an evening or a week - to chill out. We need to fill up those reserves before we begin to use them.

2. Spend time doing what you love

Even if we love our jobs - it’s still work. Take a breather and spend some time doing something that brings you joy. Whether it’s getting outside for a hike, drawing, writing or splurging on a delicious meal - treat yourself (literally).

Often, we get caught up on the success wheel. We keep building and working and adding the pressure because we can. But, what if we just took a step back and injected (albeit, forcefully at first) some fun?

3. Begin creating boundaries

Once your reserves are back to normal, take a look at what got you there in the first place. Were you constantly saying yes to things you should have turned down? Were there certain people or situations that triggered your burnout?

Take a long, hard look at what’s been going on - and understand what could help prevent it from happening again. Do you need to be surrounded by different people? More time? A different mindset?

Look back at what the past week/month/year (lifetime?) has been like and identify where you could draw better boundaries.

4. Check in with yourself more often

Once you’ve established your boundaries and communicated with those in your life - make sure to set up a consistent check in with yourself. Maybe you add time to your calendar for a monthly reflection. Maybe you find an accountability partner or coach.

Whatever is the best method for you to proactively approach your ability to thrive - be sure to set up a schedule to check in regularly. When we’ve reached the point of no return it takes a lot more effort to fill those reserves than if we approached it in a thoughtful way ahead of time.

And heck - have fun. This is our life for cryin’ out loud! We deserve it.

Katina Mountanos