BURNOUT: HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT IS HAPPENING TO YOU?
So, what about you…do you feel like you have no energy left to deal with the stresses of your work, love, or life experiences? Are you just fucking over it?
If so, you’re likely experiencing burnout.
Burnout can impact you regardless of age. It’s something that often never gets addressed because we’ve gone through it or seen others experience it and just see it as “normal adulting.” In other instances, burnout gets addressed very late and the fatigue and distress one experiences by this time, take a major toll on them…trust me, I speak from experience!
So, how do you know if you are going through this? Below I’ll share some ways of recognizing burnout and my SOULutions to reduce or eliminate it from your life!
Signs of Burnout:
From my personal experience, research, and what I have concluded from my work with others, burnout happens in two ways:
- A person operates without a sense of purpose while overthinking and doing more than they have the capacity to for an extended period; or
- A person attempts to prove/achieve “something great” by doing more than their bandwidth allows for a prolonged period of time.
Simply put, burnout is caused from emotional, mental and physical exhaustion due to what I call the five F-words: fear, frustration, feeling a constant need to force, fight and fix life. Ultimately extended periods of living in a state of stress without making time to address it.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the following, particularly the first three, burnout is likely the cause.
Exhaustion – You feel like you have no resources left to deal with demands and responsibilities. You feel tired and lethargic, physically, mentally or both – more often than not.
Drop in Productivity – Assignments take longer to finish, you make more mistakes; you are far less productive than you usually are.
Lack of Motivation – Nothing motivates you or you’re less motivated by things that typically give you a zest for life. What you usually feel passionate about leaves you indifferent now.
Irritation – You snap or “boil on the inside” over the slightest incidents or interactions. You find yourself easily annoyed at things that don’t typically get to you.
Social Withdrawal – You might not feel like talking to colleagues or for that matter, friends, a lover, even family. You feel like keeping to yourself and avoid interaction.
WHAT IS BURNOUT COMMUNICATING TO YOU?!
Our bodies are very sophisticated machines and great communicators. Burnout is a notification…it’s communication…a manifestation of a deeper problem. It’s a clear and simple message that “it’s time for a change.” It’s an experience that is trying to get you to pause and take inventory of what’s going on in your life that shouldn’t be or what isn’t going on in your life that should!
So what’s at the core of your burnout?
Something that you feel is important to you is being ignored and ignored shit always piles up and becomes more ignored shit. And it won’t go away until you clean it up! Burnout is just a way of your body, mind and spirit saying that you’re not listening deeply to your own self. Chances are, you already know to some extent what that is, but have chosen not to address it.
MY 4-STEP FORMULA TO BEAT BURNOUT
Like a grocer would make sure the shelves are stocked with items that suit their brand and their customers and the retail manager would make sure the racks have the right items in store, a self-inventory is an opportunity for you to sit back and take stock of who you are, what your life is filled with and if what’s filling your life is outdated and needs to be removed. On the flip side, who and what fuels you or the version of you that you wish to become?
Decide what changes you’d want to experience in your life. It is important to be clear about who you are and what you want…define for yourself what happily ever after would be if time, money, location, etc. were not a factor.
Ignoring your wants or making compromises is a short-term strategy for health, happiness and productivity. You will pull through for a while before unhappiness catches up again. Freely think about what is at the core of your burnout and begin to shift your focus on what life would be like when it all changes to your version of happily ever after.
- Monitor & Re-frame Your Thinking.
While introspecting, also think of the reasons you may have felt stuck, incapable of addressing or going after the change you really wish to experience in your life. Ask yourself:
- Why am I not ready?
- What are the fears that keep me in the same spot?
- Where is this idea stemming from? What is driving it?
- Is it just my present frustration that’s making me think this way? Or is there something deeper?
- What are the possible pitfalls of pursuing this change…my happily ever after?
- What are the things I need to take care of, if I were to go ahead?
List your responses out on a piece of paper or in a designated notebook so you can see them…removed from all the other 99,000 things in your head. Acknowledge these reservations and fears. Once you really give each of these ideas considerable thought, the picture will become clearer. But with anything new, it does take time and consistency.
Time and consistency doing what?! Being brave. Being brave doesn’t necessarily mean plunging into humongous change. It means taking the smallest step towards change…just a little bit every day…what change can you immediately start? Simply getting started, allows you to make small changes which will give you a boost…it will shift you out of the burnout rut and closer to your version of happily ever after!
- Create a self-care routine that works for you!
What makes you feel good? Do the things you enjoy and do them more often and on purpose. If possible, do the things you enjoy with people you enjoy.
If you are a personal development or spiritual junkie, you might have read or heard this for sure. It seems paradoxical or even belittling to be asked to ‘enjoy’ when you are feeling run down. From my experience it certainly helps. Don’t underestimate the power of play and fun.
And yes, I consider play and fun self-care. The term “self-care” has become pretty trendy. In my opinion, there’s a misconception about what this concept actually means. It’s not simply about bubble baths, candles & chocolates, but rather the value in identifying what I call “pillars of purpose” – those core values that determine who you are, what you stand for, and ultimately prioritizing your daily life decisions in accordance with those values.
We often neglect our own needs and desires to accommodate the expectations of who others need or want us to be. Self-care isn’t a selfish act nor is it limited to external actions – i.e. the bubble bath fad, treating yourself to a fancy dinner or new outfit – in an effort to feel good on the inside.
Self- care IS about living with personal integrity and doing the internal work that is then reflected in our outward actions and interactions. That inside job is where the reward of self-care and living with fulfillment comes from – identifying and living by YOUR definition of happily ever after, pillars of purpose and boundaries!
If you’re frustrated with or confused about the direction of your life, stressed with the people in your circle, or simply unfulfilled, take time for “self-care” and assess your choices in those areas and whether or not those decisions are aligned to the essence of who you are or who you’re striving to be!
- Be Transparent
My mom always told me a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. In other words, nobody will ever know that you need help if you don’t share it with them.
Especially if you are anything like I used to be – the “Strong Friend.” You know the “Strong Friend” is the one that’s always there to listen, advise, and more – whenever they’re needed. But they’re also likely the friend that seems to “have it all together.” They rarely or never express when hardships, burnout or anything “off track” is going on in their lives. If any of the aforementioned information within this article sounds like you or someone you know, don’t attempt to be the “strong friend” and “handle it” by yourself.
Perspective helps a lot while you contemplate and from my three previous recommendations, you’ll be doing lots of reflecting. Talk to people who have known you and who will be honest with you about what they feel. You might try a coach, therapist or someone else who will help you think aloud in a comfortable, trustworthy space for your ideas and challenges to be discussed in confidence. Through your introspection you will certainly be opened up to new windows of thought.
You must advocate for yourself and open up to someone who will be compassionate, yet hold you accountable to the change you wish to see in your life. Decide who that person (or people) will be, and ask if they have the bandwidth to help you navigate this new journey. But do not expect someone to do your work for you…remember this is an inside job! Whether you’re reaching out to a friend, loved one or a professional, nothing will change in your life unless you do! So be transparent, but when you reach out, also be prepared to do what it takes to shift your life experiences.
Maybe you’re already in burnout mode?! No worries. These are still beneficial tools to avoid (or reduce the impact) when you’re faced with future stressful events. Burnout is simply a phase with a message for you. Listen to yourself, get support, and you will eventually heal, be fulfilled and enjoying your version of happily ever after!
Let me know if you give these a shot and how they worked out for you? Do you have any approaches to handle stress and burnout? Share in the comments below.