Are You Risking Burnout for No Reason?
Let's see if what you are working so hard for is for you, or something else.
Burnout and mental depletion in work, school, and life continue to lead people to suffer alone as stigma against these kinds of struggles continues.
Let's start with a metaphor.
Let’s say someone challenged you to eat a whole birthday cake by yourself. What are the different strategies to accomplishing this delicious goal? I believe *generally* there are two ways to approach this problem, depending on the kind of person you are. 'Person A' will try to eat the cake all at once, as quickly as possible. 'Person B' will recognize there was no time limit with the challenge. Rather than forcing themselves to eat the cake, they will eat it bits at a time, perhaps over several hours or days.
Something we haven’t discussed yet is *why;* what are these hypothetical people going to get out of this challenge to eat a whole birthday cake? This is where I lift the veil of the metaphor, and get to what-the-heck I am talking about. This is a post about burnout! Burnout is term to describe people with mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion from working too hard, not being appreciated, not seeing results despite effort, or not practicing self-care–or all of the above. This can happen from taking on too much, not feeling satisfied with efforts, and sometimes bullying.
- Chronic Fatigue
- Insomnia/Troubling Sleeping
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Changes in Weight
- Physical Symptoms: Compromised immune function, stomach aches, dizziness, and more.
Interestingly enough, these symptoms are nearly identical to many of the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That is how serious burnout is.I will be discussing some tips for dealing with burnout, but if you feel you are spiraling with your mental health, seek out the care of a medical professional.
Burnout can take over our lives.
Often when people discuss burnout it is in regards to work or school.
Burnout can happen in any area of your life including relationships. Difficulty in areas of your life can make it easier to experience burnout if proper self-care is not being practiced.
Don’t eat the cake all at once.
Now we get to the whole point of this cake metaphor. Life offers you tasks and challenges every day. To avoid burnout you must believe that the tasks in your life have a deeper meaning and will benefit you in some way.
If your motivation to finish a task, or to “eat the whole cake” is to “get it over with,” or to satisfy someone else, you don’t have a healthy sense of necessity. Whatever work you do, be it work, relationships, school, whatever; you need to feel your benefit, or know that you will benefit from the work involved, or you will resent the effort–a risk factor for burnout.
Take it one slice at a time.
Take it one slice at a time. If you are tasked with eating a whole cake by yourself, you are going to want to take your time, or else you will get sick. Trying to do something all at once and failing is very disheartening, and it's a breeding ground for self-resentment.
There is something to be said about pacing yourself and taking bite sized pieces; one slice at a time. When we give ourselves reasonable goals, based on retaining our health and wellness, we tend to exceed those goals. Our brains release dopamine when we complete a task, and that release makes us feel good, and becomes a motivator to get that feeling again.
Our minds and mindset are a powerful tool… ‘Person A’ attempts to eat the cake all at once, gets ¼ of the way through, and has to stop because they feel sick and bloated. ‘Person B’ decides to only eat the cake ¼ at a time. They finish their piece, and decide they can probably have a little bit more so they have less later.
Set yourself up for success.
Set yourself up for success. When we take on too much we automatically set ourselves up for failure. When we don’t celebrate our accomplishments, we don’t give ourselves any motivation to keep going. When we can’t live up to big expectations, we hold it against ourselves. If you experience anxiety or low self-esteem it will be easier to develop burnout. Everything we pursue in life must be connected to our own goals, and provide a purpose beyond the task itself. Ask yourself why you do the things you do. What do you want; and question if what you are doing will give it to you. If you can't answer those questions you are at risk.
Burnout is a very real health hazard. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing symptoms of burnout, get connected with a doctor, mental health professional, a trusted friend, or consider hiring a life coach familiar with anxiety and burnout. There are people all over the world experiencing these symptoms right now. We need to work toward removing the stigma around burnout and mental health issues both in the workplace, and in our personal lives. You deserve to feel good about your efforts. You deserve to live your life without suffering or hurting yourself.