Burnout is a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that results from experiencing chronic stress. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It can be described as feeling like a tire that is slowly losing air. Feeling cynical, hopeless, depressed, pessimistic, resentful, exhausted (both physically and emotionally) are all signs of burnout. While everyone has days where they feel these feelings, if you feel like this most of the time, you may be burned out.
Often related with work stress, burnout can be found in other areas of life such as caretaking, romantic relationships, and parenting. The causes of burnout are many including juggling too many tasks, doing work that conflicts with one’s sense of self, feeling unsupported, and working long hours. This stress can result in feeling fatigued, experiencing digestive issues, headaches, and turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs, food and alcohol.
Practicing healthy habits such as eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly go a long way in preventing burnout. Finding stress management techniques that you enjoy and engaging in them on a regular basis is also of utmost importance. Enjoyment is key here whether it be breathing exercises, bubble baths, spending time in nature, family time, or physical exercise. If it helps, schedule time for stress release to be sure it isn’t overlooked.
It is important to note that if one does experience burnout, it doesn’t go away on its own. Overcoming burnout requires making life changes. Even small changes will provide the stamina to overcome.
- Set healthy boundaries: Don’t overextend yourself. It is okay to say “no”.
- Take breaks: On daily basis as well as between large projects and after accomplishing goals.
- Delegate where possible: You really don’t have to do it all.
- Take daily breaks from technology: Schedule time each day when you disconnect.
- Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist.
- Pursue your passions – Engage in pleasurable things that interest you, and bring enjoyment to your life.
It is important to remember that just as burnout doesn’t happen overnight, recovery won’t either. Along with making small changes, take some time to reflect on your values, goals and dreams. Consider what really makes you happy and how you can find new opportunities to live true to yourself.