You’re tired aren’t you? You work late nights and early mornings because let’s be real- stuff must get done and you’re the one that makes that happen. You aren’t eating balanced meals; shoot, you’re hardly eating at all! When you do sleep, it’s not restful. Maybe you get frequent headaches, you often find yourself down with sickness, or maybe thoughts start to creep in that you aren’t enjoying your work anymore. Sure, you have those days where you throw your hands in the air and yell, “I quit!” You don’t really mean it, but lately, you’ve started to wonder if selling your business and getting the good-ole nine-to-five would solve these issues. Or maybe it’s your nine-to-five that’s causing these symptoms. No energy, worth, or purpose at your job. If you aren’t experiencing any of these things, it’s all too easy to reach this point.
Y’all, you’re burnt out. Two definitions of burnout:
· "A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations." – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson.
· "A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward." – Herbert J. Freudenberger.
Do you fit into either of those definitions? When I was waking up every day crying and begging my husband to not make me go to work, I think I was falling into both of those definitions and maybe a couple more! The dangerous thing about this is that burnout doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how nice you dress, or how “put together” your life seems, you can reach the point of mental or physical exhaustion and it can affect you in a very serious way.
To be clear, burnout is different than stress. In most cases, stress is short term; or at least we hope it to be. Burnout happens over a long period of time. It’s a slow fade that normally we don’t even see coming until you’re stuck in the mundane and you don’t know how to get out.
Burnout can look different for different people. Sometimes it looks like how I started this post: working yourself to death until you just can’t take it anymore. Other times it’s not having purpose. Maybe you get overlooked at work and you don’t feel like what you do really matters. If you don’t feel valued in your work, you’re going to drop into going through the motions of life and it’s going to become monotonous. Do this long enough and burnout is bound to come your way. This is when your burnout symptoms look like feelings of emptiness, withdrawing emotionally, becoming irritable or “on edge,” or even blaming others for your mistakes.
So the main question is, how do you avoid this, right? Here are a few simple ways to keep yourself in check to try and avoid the dreaded burnout:
1. Say “No.”
You can take this a number of ways. I encourage you to apply it to your life however it’s going to improve your situation. I’m learning that saying “no” is not a bad thing. Because I’m a “yes man” or rather a “yes woman, “ I’m constantly stretching myself too thin. If I do this long enough, I’m putting myself at risk of burnout. So I’ve started saying “no!” I really don’t like it at all! I feel like I’m letting people down because if they didn’t trust me, they wouldn’t be asking me, right? Well, if I don’t have time, I don’t have time. It’s just that simple. This applies to work too. I don’t like asking for help at work. I like to be able to handle everything that they throw at me, but the reality is that we aren’t made to work alone. Sometimes I have to humble myself, ask for help, and admit, “No, I can’t do all this work before the end of the day when it’s due. I need help.”
I know you didn’t want to hear this one. I don’t either but sometimes what’s good for us isn’t fun. Like brussel sprouts; seriously, have you tried them? They’re awful! But I know what you just thought; “I don’t have time to exercise! Who does this girl think she is?” You’re really going to tell me that you don’t have thirty minutes every day to give to yourself to keep your body and mind healthy? With just thirty minutes a day, you’re reducing your chances of stroke, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Make it happen, Captain.
3. Schedule time off
Whether it’s one day or one month, take time off! I can’t stress this one enough! And while you’re at it, leave your phone at home or on the night stand. Take time with your family, friends, and make new friends. Engage with those around you. Experience new places, take pictures, make memories. Don’t make this season of your life all about work because what’s the fun in that? At the end of your life, are you going to look back and wish you worked more? Probably not. Trust me, the work will be there when you return and you will come back refreshed, ready to go, and you will accomplish way more than if you had just kept pushing through the burnout.
Stay healthy, friends!