6 tips to deal with sleep health issues and burnout
Burnout, stress and insomnia are words that we hear too often. With studies showing more than 20 per cent of employees worldwide feel burnt out, how can we look after ourselves better? How can we wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated?
We brought together six experts from Singapore and Hong Kong to delve into these topics and give us little steps to help us live our lives to the fullest. Here are six lessons on burnout and sleep health.
1. Burnout is not a ‘work thing’ but a ‘life thing’.
James Lim, founder of Emmaus Strategies, and a social worker
James has experienced burnout four times, including once while he was advocating against burnout. He attributes burnout to a mix of factors such as family, work and personal mental health struggles, so he believes burnout is not a “work thing” but a “life thing”. Burnout is not something you can shake or sleep off; deep and intentional work is required. To overcome burnout, he says that the symptoms must first be identified.
2. Take ownership of your lifestyle
Sandra Marichal, founder of Up2degrees, explorer and adventurer
Sandra knows what it’s like being in stressful positions – having been on two trips to Antarctica, working as the marketing insights manager Asia-Pacific at Facebook, starting a movement #Up2Degrees and getting a law changed within one year. And if all that wasn’t enough, she’s about to sail around the world for a year. To her, you have the power to change whatever situation you are in. Firstly, acknowledge that something is wrong. Accept the pain, but respect your mind and body. A simple exercise is to feel your fingers and toes at least once a day to be more conscious of your own body.
If something does not feel right, something IS not right. Do not blame yourself or feel guilty. Do not get burnout or sacrifice your sleep health for the sake of others. Assess what makes you happy or unhappy and make a change now. If not, your life will worsen over time. As a high energy person herself, she suggests exhausting yourself positively through exercise or reading a book to help you fall asleep. Designate space and time that is for work and time that is for rest.
3. Examine your own sleep habits
Gary Tho, founder of ChiroWorks and a doctor
Tho is one of those people who actually go to sleep at 9pm or 10pm. He says sleep is essential, not optional, and that sleep health helps to avoid illnesses. Some reasons people don’t sleep well are pain, anxiety, snoring and living on autopilot. He believes to get good sleep, you need to identify why you can sleep in the first place.
Write down how you feel and what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Describe the consequences of not getting enough sleep.
Reflect on whether the activities you engage in after 11pm are important to help you achieve your goals in life and work. Is your performance compromised the day after a late night? If it is, is it possible to change your habits?
Pay attention to what keeps you awake at night? Is it something that calls for your help? Do you need to find out if there is something else that needs to be addressed by an expert?
By being in tune with your body and listening to it, you can take your first step towards achieving better sleep health.
4. Heal in the vibrations of sound
Malbert Lee, sound healer and yoga instructor
Malbert went for his first yoga class in 2000 and then discovered sound meditation. He is on a mission to bring people a new medicine: sound. He uses sound vibration to enhance your sleep health and meditation experience. This helps to create a free flow of energy and clarity in your mind to improve total well-being. While sound can be calming and relaxing, it can also be destructive. So, if you are near any loud environments, walk away. However, if you cannot, start humming. It is the vibration that comes from within which calms you.
What you can do is take short breaks or practise short meditation to reduce stress levels. Also, listen to relaxing sounds and think of things you are grateful for before sleep, and go to sound baths that are guided by experienced sound practitioners. These tips will be sure to relax you, improve your sleep health and prevent burnout.
5. Treat your mental health as you treat your physical health
Cheng Ying-han, founder of Transform Passion to Action
Ying battled anxiety and an eating disorder in the past before she became an empowered woman, and a life and business coach. She is constantly questioning why not enough people take mental health as seriously as physical health. If people did that, they would seek help earlier to get themselves in shape. When you are working on your strength in the gym, you don’t give up or blame yourself when you cannot do something. Likewise, sleep health and burnout prevention is measured by how well you can let go of your weaknesses or self-blame and push forward. To do that, practice makes perfect.
Train your “letting go” muscle with specific meditation. She discusses getting into brainwaves to improve physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual well-being to improve sleep health and prevent burnout. She suggests trying micro-current machines to calm your body quickly. There are places where you can get short trials for free, so go and try.
6. Be aware of the different levels you function at
Thomas Amiard, breathwork practitioner
Thomas is a practitioner with Enhale Meditation Studio. He focuses on how we are functioning at five levels: body, energy, emotions, mental and spiritual. These levels are meant to characterise our being and actions so that we can have amazing sleep health and be at an optimum state of being. The body is about your physical well-being and energy is about how we fuel what we do. For emotions, it is about considering how you feel in situations, while mental is about what you think in those situations. Lastly, the spiritual is about having this higher sense that is beyond oneself. He uses the breath-work and mindfulness tools to improve everyday life.
Tips on how to sleep better and prevent burnout
– Don’t be afraid to reach out to therapists, life coaches or counsellors when you need to.
Ensure you get adequate and quality sleep:
– You can achieve a good night’s sleep with the help of experts – not just the traditional sleep doctors.
– Avoid heavy food, coffee and alcohol three hours before bedtime, though it may vary for individuals.
– Do your best to sleep in a dark room with little noise.
Use your screens responsibly:
– Try not to use electronic devices right before you sleep.
– Make your bedroom phone-free, so you don’t feel the need to use it in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.
– Indulge in a cool alarm clock.
– Track your screen time, remove all notifications on your phone.
– Breathe and be aware of your body to focus on things other than stress.
– Start the day by taking 5 minutes to breathe mindfully. Meditate, with calming sounds, to relax.
More than 20 per cent of employees worldwide feel burnt out, but how can we wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated?