Are you on the Road to Burnout? How to Get off that Road and Back into Your Life.
What is Burnout?
Burnout can seem like major depression. They are very connected. One can have depression and feel like they are burnt out on life and feel that there is no point to going on. One can have burnout and feel unable to deal with everyday life and just want to give up. The distinctions and differences fail to matter when all you want to do is get your life back on the right track.
Though burnout is not an official medical condition for which there is a prescribed psychological or emotional treatment, it is a condition that affects many people at some stage in their lives and mental health treatment is often necessary to get yourself out of this emotional downturn.
Many folks attribute their burnout to being job or lifestyle related. People can feel burnout associated from their highly stressful, busy occupations with long hours, low pay and high responsibility that demand a lot of time and energy. Burnout can also be associated with family demands such as taking care of kids or being a caretaker for elderly relatives. The stress of overwhelming financial burdens and unending obligations can also put you on the fast track for burnout. In each case, it is really not the job, your family or stress that is causing the burnout. It is how you are dealing with life’s circumstances and your coping mechanisms and relationship/life patterns.
Awareness is the key to stopping burnout in its tracks. If you are on the fast track to burnout, you will easily recognize these signs:
- Lack of energy for even the most basic tasks such as getting out of bed, going grocery shopping, returning phone calls or preparing meals.
- Loss of a sense of identity ~ the things that used to give you a sense of pride and accomplishment like your job, family and home all seem as if they belong to someone else’s life.
- No motivation. The ideals, values, dreams and hope you once had all seem to fall by the wayside. You no longer have any ambitions, dreams or hope for the future.
- Disengagement from things and people you use to enjoy. You are no longer interested in talking to friends, making plans or doing anything that has to do with belonging to a community.
- Never having a good day. Every day is a bad day full of only problems, hopeless situations and no way out of a constant rut of dullness and boredom.
- Feeling exhausted all the time ~ even after you do nothing all day.
- Getting sick all the time. Really low immunity, especially all of a sudden, can be a sign of burnout. You call in sick from work all the time and just generally do not feel well.
- Overreaction to slight change. Any change or unexpected development, even small ones, cause you to lash out at others.
What to do about Burnout?
- Get some help. Talk to others about how you are feeling. Seek professional help for your depressed mood. Even if they aren’t professionals, other people can provide a sense of support for you as you figure out how to get your life back. Lots of people have been through periods of burnout and talking to them can help.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say no when you are feeling overwhelmed. A mental health professional can be a great source here to help teach you how to establish boundaries and stick to them.
- Develop a stress-buster routine. Exercise, develop a hobby, do a deep-breathing exercise, talk a long bath ~ do something to de-stress every single day so that your stress doesn’t build up.
- Let go. Those most prone to burnout are those who are perfectionists and control freaks who want to try to do everything at a high level all of the time. Mistakes happen, you cannot control other people and there will be bumps in the road so give yourself permission to let go and relax.
- Take time off for you. Allow yourself to have leisure time. Start with a few hours a week and slowly increase your me time.
- Get creative. Finding a creative outlet can bring joy back into your life. Even a little spark of interest in a creative activity can slowly pull yourself off of the burnout train.
- Get some sleep, lots of it.
- Start a new activity. Sometimes, a fresh start on a new project can distract you from feelings that you are not being productive on your current tasks. Break up your routine and force yourself to try something new.
- Learn to play.
You can reverse your burnout funk by developing new strategies for dealing with stress and establishing a new paradigm for yourself that is more than just work, obligations and stress. Remember that a balanced life is a good life. With time, these strategies can help you prevent total burnout and get you back to living your life. Good luck.