It's easy to believe that burnout is something other people experience; we think to ourselves that it's the high flyers, the workaholics, but for me? Oh definitely can't be me. Yet more often than not, it's the people who aren't identifying themselves as 'high flyers' that are suffering from burnout.
It's no secret that we're living in a time when we are always 'on' (so much so that we forget what it's like to be 'off'). In this day and age there are more and more of us becoming susceptible to the insidious, creeping malaise called burnout.
All of us are trying to juggle the demands of work (which no longer sits tidily between the hours of 9-5!) whilst keeping our relationship red hot, looking after our families, socialising with friends AND ensuring our health is in check. Not to mention finding the time to pursue our own interests and that daily battle with our commute... It’s no wonder many of us are struggling.
These are some of the key signs of burnout.
Do these symptoms sound familiar?
Feeling emotionally and physically drained to the point of chronic exhaustion
Having difficulty getting motivated or enthusiastic about things
Feeling cynical about life in general
Feeling as if we are ineffective and not achieving
Having difficulty switching off at night and experiencing interrupted sleep
It is important to understand that constantly living with stress is a signal that something needs to change. Often we assume stress is the result of working too many hours or having a large workload. But this is often overly simplistic. Although these can be stressful, and it is not healthy to be constantly working and striving, this is merely a symptom of more fundamental aspects that are out of balance in our lives. Long term stress is complex and the result of the emotional and cognitive approaches we have learnt to rely on over time.
Burnout is something that commonly creeps up on us. So it’s important we can recognise it as early as possible. This means recognising that we are relying on high levels of stress to get through our daily lives. The earlier we notice it, the easier it is to put in place habits that will prevent burnout.
Remember that in life we have a choice. We can choose to make our lives better.
We always, always have choices about:
You might be thinking “easy to say not so easy to do”. A simple exercise to help you manage this, is to write down all of the things in your life that you have control over. For instance how you show up to work, whether you choose to respond immediately to that aggressive email and so on.
Think about what the expectations you are holding on to are, whether this is of yourself or others. Are they too high? Could you take a different approach? Think about what is happening from the “other” point of view. As much as we'd like people to pop out of the 'how to act at work' machine, and behave how they are expected to.. they never do. Instead, we must come back to the 'how'; as much as we would like others to behave the way we want them to, we can only control our beliefs about ourselves and how we show up.
The Whether or Not
How easy do you find asking for help? How fiercely independent are you? Whether or not you can ask for help can mean the difference between a balanced and well balanced life. If you are one of those people who struggle, cut yourself some slack. Think about the people you admire. What has it taken to get them where they are? Chances are they created their very own network of support. For many, even just having the option to ask for support can be enough.
This is a battle of confidence over fear. Do you consider yourself to be self confident? Do you have high beliefs in what you can achieve? When fear steps in to the ring, we lose the confidence to say 'no', or to simply turn off.
As we begin to regain control over our lives, we can come face to face with fearful thoughts; what if I lose my job? What if I lose my friends? It takes courage and self belief to stand up to burnout.
The great news is that once you take the reigns, start saying no, being kind of yourself and asking for help when you need to you find that things begin to flourish. Things will become clearer for you. It becomes easier to put your energy into what matters. And when these things grow, so does your health and happiness.
Constant stress and burnout are our mind’s and body’s way of telling us that we need to make some changes. The kinds of changes that involve serious work on your mind and on your emotional habits. Working on these will build your capability and self-mastery, bringing about fundamental shifts in our lives.
If you'd like to learn more about how to move forward, why not sign up to my free e-series? Each week you'll receive tips and tricks on how to make fundamental changes to your life, so that you can begin your journey to a more balanced, more fulfilled and happier you.