Reset days: what are they and how can they help you recover from burnout?
Mental Health

Reset days: what are they and how can they help you recover from burnout?

As we try to incorporate more rest into our lives, could a ‘reset day’ – a period of up to 24 hours dedicated to recouping from burnout – be the answer? We asked the experts.

Despite 79% of British workers experiencing work-related stress, a study conducted by the job website Glassdoor found that the average employee only takes 62% of their holiday allowance.

And it’s not just in our careers that we fail to give ourselves time out. In our personal lives too, we overload our schedules with responsibilities that leave us drained of energy and experience social fatigue when we’re overexerting ourselves.

This is the kind of burnout that requires more than just an evening on the sofa to truly recover.

Rest is vital for improving mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress, improved mood and even a better metabolism. 

Making time for rest shouldn’t be a mystery. If we complete a tough workout, we’re happy to take the next day off from exercise in order to recover. So why aren’t we more open to doing it for our minds?

So how do we incorporate more rest into our lives, and could a ‘reset day’ – a period of up to 24 hours dedicated to recouping from burnout – be the answer?

You may also like

As stress levels soar, can an extra week of paid leave help prevent post-Covid burnout?

Why do we need reset days?

“Our lives today have very few boundaries. There is no demarcation between work time and personal time, business and play,” explains Charisse Cooke, a relationship therapist.

“There is no time away from the various demands and responsibilities of our lives. In any one hour we might be juggling house admin, a family drama, a work deadline and an argument with our partner. Our bodies are not built for this level of stress continuously.”

Kristy Lomas, a multi-disciplined therapist and founder of The Ki Retreat, suggests that we need regular reset and recovery days so that we don’t burn out completely, and experience illness that is associated with burnout.

“This enables us to stay more grounded and centred. Making us more able to cope with the stresses of everyday life. When you’re fully rested, things don’t bother you as much as when you’re stressed or on the verge of burnout,” she says.

You may also like

Burnout: why we should resist the UK’s toxic culture of overtime to prevent exhaustion

How do you know when you need a reset day?

According to stress relief and self-worth therapist Laura Steventon, you will know you need to reset your nervous system when you:

  • Lack clarity and/or focus
  • Find decision making tougher
  • You are cranky more than you are neutral or happy
  • You are feeling overwhelmed by things that usually don’t phase you
  • You are being less productive than normal
  • You have lost your usual get up and go

The signs that you’re heading towards burnout and need a reset day can be physical, too. “Your body will send you signals in the form of headaches, stomach aches and you may notice changes in your sleep and appetite,” adds Kasia Richter, a psychologist and wellbeing strategist.

You may also like

Millennial burnout: 3 signs of stress-induced exhaustion, and what to do about it

What should a reset day look like?

“Sometimes we are so burnt out our reset days are simply about sleeping, eating and resting. We can barely do more than watch trash telly and, if we are feeling very virtuous, go for a short walk,” says Cooke.

“However, it is good to incorporate genuinely nourishing activities in our reset days. Calling our best friend and having a proper catch up, having sex with our partners, booking three relaxing weekends in the diary over the next three months, cooking a meal from scratch or speaking to a therapist.”

These activities could also include:

  • Getting out into nature, taking a walk or a hike
  • Taking the time to cook a meal from scratch, savouring the experience
  • Enjoying a relaxing bath or spa treatment
  • Doing something immersive, like reading a book, doing a crossword or jigsaw, or building
  • Ensuring your energy pathways are flowing with light exercise, like yoga or tai chi
  • Staying away from your phone, TV, and the internet for a full digital detox

Importantly, a reset day doesn’t have to be a full agenda of things to do, which can have the opposite effect. High-performance coach Joanna Blazinska suggests using your intuition  and having a 70-30 rule: 70% planned activities, and 30% for spontaneity, so your curious self can just do something that you feel like doing in the moment.

How to design an effective reset day that works for you

“Ask yourself, when was the last time I took some time for myself?” Tee Twyford, a millennial leadership coach and founder of HUSTLE + hush, tells Stylist. “I ask myself this question on a weekly basis so that I’m able to check-in and course correct, before the need for hush snowballs into a larger concern.”

If the idea of turning off completely feels scary, Twyford suggests asking yourself what you’d like to tune into instead. “Try and remember how do you feel when you’re at your best – what are you doing, who are you with and where are you? Separate out the hustle (high, positive) energy activities from the hush (low, positive) energy activities and scan through the hush items for inspiration.”

Whatever you end up doing, the key is to reconnect to yourself and the things that bring you joy, release and take your mind away from the commitments and responsibilities that may be overwhelming you, just for a day.

Because there’s no point doing a half-hearted reset day if you’re going to check your work emails or tick off your to-do list at the same time. This is not the time to be decluttering your wardrobe or giving your space a deep clean.

Taking a proper break will  allow you to refresh properly and mean you can return the next day feeling better and more productive.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Recommended by Amy Beecham

Life

Could this 10-minute exercise be the answer to avoiding burnout?

The best bit? It’s completely free.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
Books

Drained heading into the weekend? These 6 steps promise to take you from burnout to thriving

This “burnout bible” will teach you all you need to know.

Posted by
Amy Beecham
Published
Books

Combat stress with these bestselling adult colouring books

Reinvent the joy of play

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
Long Reads

The Danish concept of “pyt” is your ticket to a soothing September reset

Take a deep cleansing breath and press the ‘pyt’ button.

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published