What is burnout and what should you do if you are experiencing symptoms of burnout.
For everything that we say yes to we are saying no to something else whether this is intentional or not. Let that sink in for a moment when we say no to our wellbeing what are we potentially saying yes to? What a sobering thought! While things happen beyond our control, it’s empowering to define what we are responsible for ensuring we are active participants in our own lives. While we all have 24 hours in a day, which makes us all on the same playing field and the reality of it is we don’t spend it the same. Time is a currency that once is spent; we can’t remake it. We are continually trading our time and energy in exchange for something, and in the long run, this can be of benefit, or it can deplete us. The thing about balance is it’s different for everybody, so my aim is not to tell you what balance looks like but rather what are the boundaries that contain balance and to reveal the warning signs of when you are out of balance for long periods of time which can turn into burnout.
According to Psychology Today, “burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.” Though problems at work most often cause it, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking, or romantic relationships. What’s the difference between stress and burnout? Stress is short-lived or tied to a specific event or goal and is most likely not harmful. It’s when stress feels like it’s never-ending, or it comes with a sense of hopelessness and emptiness this may be an indicator of burnout and changes must be made. Some other warning signs of burnout can be frequent feelings of anger, cynicism, irritability and a sense of dread towards a situation. As mentioned while jobs aren’t the only sources of chronic stress that causes burnout, it could be experienced by parents, partners and non-professional caregivers, especially when there is a sense of endless exhaustion and overwhelm.
What should you do if you are experiencing symptoms of burnout? Here are some things that you can do:
- Nurture your relationships and seek support from those you trust
- Make time for your hobbies and practise self-care daily. I believe this is something that we owe to ourselves and those we do life with. As the saying goes, you can’t give from an empty cup. For self-care ideas click here for my gift to you
- Discover a sense of purpose. Purpose is what gives our lives meaning and fulfilment. I don’t feel like I can give it justice with the time that I have here so I will cover this in a future episode, but in a nutshell, it is something that you love doing that will benefit someone else
- Create boundaries around your time. Have an end time on tasks especially on those that you don’t particularly enjoy
- Seek counselling. I have worked with clients where together we’ve unpacked how they got to this point and what does it look like moving forward. Change is intentional!
- Create a margin in your schedule. If your schedule is always full, there is no room for when life happens. This can cause added pressure and stress
- Ask for help! Outsource tasks if necessary to lessen the load and put your hand up when your plate is full
- Practice assertiveness and be mindful of the people-pleasing trap
On a finishing note, do you view your life as a marathon or as a sprint? While there are seasons in our lives where we find ourselves full to the bream and taking on a pace that is sprint like be mindful that sprints are intended to be short-lived and not a way of life. Just like most things in life, maintenance is needed to perform at one’s optimum.