Need to heal from burnout? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tips are surprisingly useful, according to a burnout coach


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has seemingly boundless energy, and a demanding workload as a member of Congress — and even she deals with burnout.

Earlier this month, the the 32-year-old congresswoman took to Instagram to describe her experiences with burnout “in really big episodes and smaller episodes too.” Out of necessity, Ocasio-Cortez wrote in an Oct. 16 Instagram story, she developed personal strategies to help herself cope.

Burnout results from chronic workplace stress that’s not successfully managed, according to the World Health Organization. It’s characterized by three symptoms:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • negativity or cynicism related your job
  • a lack of professional efficacy

Ocasio-Cortez wrote that she likes to think of burnout as a cup that represents “your whole self and humanity.” There are some activities in life that empty your cup, like caregiving or working, and others that fill it, like spending time with friends or cooking a nice meal.

In a perfect world, you can find a healthy balance between pouring from and filling up your cup, and your workplace is structured in an anti-burnout way.

“But when you are so obligated to fulfill mentally, physically, spiritually or emotionally demanding work that it crowds out ANY time or energy for you to do the things that fill your cup, your cup runs bone dry — this is burnout,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Her analysis is spot-on, Chicag-based burnout management coach Emily Ballesteros tells CNBC Make It. And, Ballesteros says, Ocasio-Cortez’s four tips for healing from burnout are worth recommending too:

Indulge and reenergize

Start by prioritizing activities that will replenish the depleted areas of your life. “Filling your cup is your job now,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

For example, if you’re physically exhausted, catch up on sleep and rest. Or if you’re emotionally drained, Ocasio-Cortez recommends making a list of “things you selfishly want to do just for you,” she wrote. Go on a hike, write in a journal, take a yoga class, get your nails done or visit a museum.

Once you’ve established what you want to do, put it on your calendar and cancel any conflicts, Ocasio-Cortez wrote. If you don’t get ahead of your emptying cup, the burnout will get harder to manage down the line.

Ballesteros recommends a similar exercise: Color-code how you spend the hours of your day, with red signifying depleting responsibilities and green representing activities that refill you.

“Balance will look different in different seasons of life,” Ballesteros tells CNBC Make It. “But if your schedule is entirely red, then consider it a literal red flag to you that things need to change.”

Set strong boundaries

Audit your time

How you manage your time can affect your propensity for burnout. Don’t discount the “microscopic decisions that make you happy or reduce the pour,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, like turning a meeting into an email or asking a friend or family member to take care of your kids for an afternoon.

Ballesteros says it’s normal to fall into a habit of doing things the way you’ve always done them. “However, if you recognize that something is no longer working, don’t be afraid to minimize, automate, outsource, pause, delegate or eliminate items that take more than they give,” she says.

Look at how you spend your time, question when things could be done differently and again, exercise your boundaries.

“It may feel ruthless or selfish at first but consider the alternative as potentially developing a chronic illness, panic attack, etc. Not good,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

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