Lately, I’ve been struggling with professional burnout and the resulting depression. It feels like a lot has piled up on me — several unsuccessful contracts have led to significant financial losses, there’s tension in my family relationships (yes, even after 17 years of marriage, this can happen), and I’ve been questioning if I’m living my life right. I’ve noticed that I’ve been:
- Struggling to get up in the morning.
- Unable to focus at work.
- Constantly engaged in doomscrolling.
- Unwilling to go for an evening workout, and lacking the energy for a morning workout.
- Despite quitting smoking 12 years ago, I’ve found myself thinking about lighting up again.
- Slowly turning to the alcohol stash at home, which I haven’t touched in years.
To address this issue, I’ve successfully adopted an approach that I’d like to share with you, which might prove helpful to some.
I’ve meticulously scheduled my day using the Reminders app on my iPhone. It looks something like this:
8:00 AM - Wake up. 8:10 AM - Brush teeth and wash up. 8:15 AM - Drink a glass of water (since we can't replenish our body's fluids at night). 8:20 AM - Workout. 8:50 AM - Meditation (thanks to Apple Fitness+). 9:00 AM - Dog walk. 9:30 AM - Breakfast and watching lectures on YouTube (I have a whole collection of lectures to watch). 10:30 AM - Sort through emails and messages in messaging apps. 11:00 AM - Work calls - project updates, client reports. 2:30 PM - Midday workout - just 20 push-ups or burpees. 3:00 PM - Lunch, then back to work. 7:00 PM - Evening dog walk. 8:00 PM - Evening workout. 11:00 PM - Reading a book. 11:50 PM - Brush teeth. 12:00 AM - Sleep.
Here are some key points I’d like to emphasize:
- I make an effort to allocate plenty of time for exercise and walks because physical activity stimulates the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin, which can help avoid the need for antidepressants.
- It’s essential to aim for at least 8 hours of sleep to minimize excess cortisol, the stress hormone in your body.
- When your entire day is planned out, you don’t have to think about what to do next. Having a clear plan provides a sense of stability.
- If you happen to miss a particular task (e.g., meditation or a workout due to an early morning call from family or friends), don’t stress about it. We’re all human.
- Try to avoid continuous news and social media consumption (unless it’s part of your job). Dedicate a short time slot each day, no more than 30 minutes, for catching up on these platforms.
I hope this relatively simple approach helps you steer clear of depression and burnout.