Voices: Five ways to beat burnout in 2023

In early 2021, we were plunged into a third national lockdown. I was looking after my three young children, running a growing online course business, and my second non-fiction book, Shy, had just been published. Workwise, it should have been an exciting time – but the stress caught up with me and I burnt out.

Instead of excitedly coming up with new publicity ideas for my online courses and book, I found myself slumped on the sofa, drinking hot chocolate and not wanting to do anything except read novels. My energy had disappeared, along with my motivation. Everything felt hopeless and I didn’t know how to work through it.

By 2022, a quarter of women in the UK were considering quitting their job because of burnout, with many recovering for a brief period only to find themselves slipping back into stress and despondency. But I wasn’t prepared to return to that state, and so I began incorporating magical rituals into my everyday life to keep me grounded, focused and calm.

You know what? Since that first bout of burnout in early 2021, it hasn’t returned. So I’m now encouraging others to raise their SQ (spiritual intelligence) for work success. This isn’t just about making more money or getting a promotion: it will also help you to create a balanced, ritualised work day that enhances your overall wellbeing. Here are my five top tips.

Morning ritual

No one actually gets out on the “wrong side of bed” – it’s about perspective. So, rather than waking up and listing all the things you feel worried about, take charge of how you start the day. Leave your phone on airplane mode and light a candle. While staring into the flame, take a deep breath in through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth while mentally reciting an intention for the day, like “Today will be calm and creative.”

Head out for a five-minute run or walk, noticing the sky. Gazing at the clouds – or “skychology“ – has been proven to lower cortisol levels and create a sense of awe, which is linked positively with wellbeing. Back home, have your usual shower but with a blast of cold water at the end – Wim Hof style – and get dressed in clothes that make you feel really good in your body.

The work day

Before sitting down at your desk, set up a scent diffuser or light a scented candle. I have a Neom diffuser with oils that represent how I want to feel that day. They’re labelled “happy”, “de-stress” and “calm”, so I drop in the oil that resonates, turn the diffuser on, and enjoy watching the steam fill the air with positivity. Start your diffuser, or light the candle, and while breathing in the lovely scent, really imagine it is seeping happiness/calm into your body.

There’s a tendency to launch quickly into work, but being ultra “productive” and rushing can lead to burnout, while slowing the pace prevents it. So commit to the latter. To ensure I have a mindful start to my work day, I dong the side of a Tibetan singing bowl I have on my work desk. Pretty niche, I know, but you can also find resonant singing bowl sounds on YouTube to play for a few minutes before work begins. Allow the sound to dissipate completely before you move on.

Midday slump

According to research, we are most productive in 52-minute bursts, followed by a 17-minute break. So after working for just under an hour, stop. Stand up and stretch your body. There might be some resistance if you are in flow, but stopping now means you’ll retain more energy throughout the day. Remember, this is about pace, balance and avoiding burnout.

If you have any gemstones, or similarly sized objects, you can roll them around in the palm of your hand like worry beads. Ask the gemstones to keep you focused. If you’re not already into spirituality, this might feel a little odd, but you are transferring some of the responsibility away from you and onto this object. If you believe it holds the power to help you focus, you might just find it does.

Magic spells

If you want to go even more “woo woo”, you could recite a magic spell. I’ve used spells to help me turn over six figures in my first year of business, as well as to attract new romantic partners and to boost my confidence. I refer to an old spell book I picked up in a witchy shop in Brighton, as well as making up my own.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, go and spend a moment outdoors. Close your eyes and focus on your breath as you feel your feet becoming rooted to the earth. Now, imagine that the earth’s goodness is flowing into your body; that you are absorbing its energy from the soles of your feet and up through your body, while saying the following words:

Creator and sustainer of the universe, thou who hast made the earth so overflowing with riches and abundance, flood my life this moment with goodness. Let all good things be mine, this day and every day.

As to who the “creator” is – well, that’s open to interpretation. Like many others who are spiritual rather than religious, I think about the “universe” and “source” as an energy around me that I can draw on for support, and to bolster me when I’m feeling a bit wobbly. Again, it’s about handing over some responsibility and relying on an external source for comfort.

Ending the day

Gratitude has become a bit of an overused term, but that’s because it really is important. In positive psychology terms, it’s been proven – scientifically – to bring people greater happiness and even to aid general health. So it’s well worth incorporating a gratitude practice into your everyday life. After all, there’s always something to be grateful for.

Just before bed, you can light your candle again and get out a notebook. In it, list the things you feel grateful for that day. It might be as “small” as your morning coffee or as “big” as the people in your life who really matter. But whatever you note down, really feel into what it is about that person or experience that makes you feel good. The more you do this practice, the more “good” you will start to notice in your life.

Finish your journalling, blow out your candle, and give thanks for the day.

You can pre-order ‘Raise Your SQ: How to Use the Magic of Spiritual Intelligence to Unlock More Joy and Success’ by Annie Ridout now