Is What I’m Feeling Burnout?
Most simply stated, burnout is defined as a period of prolonged stress that causes physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Most of us recognize it more as that feeling of, “I’m done, I can’t do this anymore!”
While all of us have tough days, and perhaps even grueling seasons at work (think accountants during tax season) burnout is different. Burnout seems like you are trapped in a situation that can’t or won’t get any better and find yourself disengaged and perhaps even feeling defeated.
Unlike good old-fashioned stress, which typically causes us to go into overdrive and do more, more, more, burnout leaves us feeling empty and apathetic. You may be headed towards burnout if you experience the following:
- More bad days than good
- Feeling physically exhausted and run down for an extended period
- Feeling stuck and defeated, like there’s not a solution in sight
- Lack of motivation and no sense of accomplishment in the work you do
- Procrastinating and taking longer than usual to get things done
From stay-at-home moms to high-profile CEO’s, anyone who is feeling overworked, undervalued and doesn’t have a sense of balance in their life is at risk of burnout. Personality traits can play a big factor in our susceptibility to burnout as perfectionists and classic Type A personalities that like to be in control are particularly prone to burnout.
So, what do you do if you’re experiencing burnout? The good news is that you don’t have to quit your job or blow up your whole life. The key to reversing burnout is finding and maintaining balance. While this sounds simple, it is not necessarily easy. To create the kind of balance you can sustain for a lifetime takes a consistent practice that takes into consideration mind, body and spirit. But there are things you can do right now to get you on the right path.
Your thoughts drive your feelings, and your feelings drive your actions, so make sure you are tuned into your thoughts – don’t let them run on autopilot and keep you stuck in the same place. Every morning do a data dump of your thoughts. This doesn’t need to be a fancy leather-bound journal scenario, grab a piece of paper out of your kid’s notebook and just start writing. No one will read this so don’t worry about grammar or spelling or content – just write and write and write. Over time you will see patterns emerge in your thoughts and can begin to do the work to create new scripts to drive the feelings, behaviors and outcomes you want.
Movement is medicine! Move your body every single day. You don’t have to run a marathon or join CrossFit, but prioritize exercise in some way – it is the single best way to combat the physical damage done by prolonged stress. You can put on music and dance in your living room, go for a walk around the block, do some jumping jacks in the kitchen – just make sure you move and release the stress that otherwise gets trapped in your body.
Take time to be still and connect to your spirituality. For some of us this may be a time of prayer, for others it may be a meditation practice, regardless, it should tap into your belief system and connect you with a deeper meaning and the bigger picture in life. This will help to create perspective and bring you closer to your true self and move you out of the cycle of burnout.
You can find your way back to your strengths and your unique sparkle and create lasting balance in your life and you don’t have to go-it alone.