Feeling burned out and exhausted is never fun. Being caught in the eye of burnout can feel as though you’ve taken a plunge to the depths… not knowing which way is up or which way is down.
At times you may feel like you’re losing your mind—falling apart—while everyone around you appears happy and able to handle their work and lives with ease.
But It’s perfectly normal to experience symptoms of burnout. The only difference between you and others is that you’re smart enough to seek out some helpful tips before you crash and things get bad.
Burnout and its symptoms are on the rise
With more and more American adults reporting stress-related symptoms each year. It’s a problem that causes employers in the U.S. to lose between 1.5 to 3 billion dollars annually. Our lives are so fast-paced and results-driven, how could we not feel exhausted?
When we figure in our modern lifestyles: our diets (both mental and physical), the lack of fresh air, sunshine, nature, and real connection with others: it’s a recipe for disaster.
It may be that you have too many responsibilities within your career, the pressure to keep up with your social circles, commitments to your partner, or have children who demand time of you. Trust me, I know, it’s a lot. If you figure in other sources of stress—be it health, financial, etc—it can become critical.
Burnout is not something that drops into your lap out of nowhere. There are very real reasons why it looms over you before it takes its hold. It’s not an over-night affair either. We tend to bounce back and forth, in and out of exhaustion for a period of time before the burnout becomes full-blown.
Symptoms and early warning signs of burnout
- Extreme Exhaustion
- Loss of concentration
- Stress-related headaches
- Decreased productivity
- Loss of satisfaction from work
- Irritability/Mood changes
- Loss of concentration
- Change in sleep
Knowing that you’re nearing a possible burnout does not mean that you are weak or a failure. If anything, it means that you are self-aware. You are only human after all.
If you’ve become exhausted (or notice any of the stress-related symptoms above) you can take it as a sign that something’s not going right. Remember: your body and mind are only looking out for you so that you can be the best you possible.
Here is a list of 5 pointers to follow when you are close to total burnout and exhaustion…
1. Prioritize yourself
Pat yourself on the back! I know it’s the hardest back to pat (literally and figuratively), but all of this time you’ve been doing an amazing job. And now you’re ready to take some time for yourself.
Why? Because you deserve it. And look, I totally get it… You may not be in the position to take a vacation right now. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t “get away” for a while.
The way’s in which you can make time for yourself are as numerous as there are individuals. And how you choose to make time for yourself is completely unique to you (and should be, since it is the most important gift you can give to yourself). The only part about making time for yourself that really matters at all… is, well… that you actually make time for yourself.
2. Spend time in nature
If you’re in an urban center and find this difficult, simply taking a book to the park will do. Studies show that being in nature is an effective treatment for stress and has positive effects on your memory and mental energy. Just by surrounding yourself with plants has shown to have positive effects on your well-being.
Nature is an actual thing that Doctors in Scotland prescribe to their patients. Nature can work like a miracle drug on both your mental and physical health. In nature you can take in some peace and serenity while reconnecting with yourself and your natural environment.
3. Meditation, yoga, or any mind-body activity
Meditation, yoga, and other mind-body activities (such as tai-chi or qi-gong) are proven to relieve stress and boost your mood. After practicing a mind-body activity you might find that stress just rolls off of your shoulders or that the things that were making you stressed out aren’t as a big of a deal as you had thought.
4. Dive into your hobbies, revisit old hobbies, or find new ones
Losing yourself in our hobbies is a great escape from stress. And by escape, I don’t mean running away from. Rather, taking a time-out for a moment to partake in the things that you love.
Engaging with things that you love makes you feel good. Feeling good enhances your well-being which helps keep stress at arms-length.
5. Do Nothing
This may seem counter-intuitive. How could doing nothing about something actually fix it? How is “nothing” productive in any way? Doing nothing, especially on a regular basis, allows your body and mind to reset itself. It’s an excellent antidote to stress and leaves you feeling revitalized and clear-minded.
Feeling like you always need to be doing something is a conditioned mindset that is at risk of burnout. By doing nothing, you learn that staying busy all of the time isn’t always necessary anyway.
Whatever your self-care routine consists of, the important thing is that it helps you to relax and brings you fulfillment. It can be something as easy as taking a soothing bath or cranking up some tunes and dancing around your living room.
Whatever it is, just don’t stress about it…
Your body and your mind are intimately connected. Working out your body keeps your mind healthy and strong. A healthy mind and body are excellent combatants in the fight against stress and exhaustion.
- Join a gym or start using the gym membership you have
- Go for a run, jog, or walk
- Workout at home or invite a friend to for a walking-date
- Join a class: Pilates, spinning, etc.
Or come up with your own wonderful original way to exercise. Many of us live sedentary lifestyles, but your body was built for motion…
7. Reach out to friends & family
Studies show that those without a support system are much more likely to experience burnout and burnout symptoms. This is because without support there is no one to help share the burden with you – even if only to vent. We are social creatures–and as much as we hate to admit–must rely on others. This is especially true in times of high stress.
Your systems of support that you can lean on may include:
- Husband, wife, or partner
- Close family members and friends
- Faith-based community
- Life coach
8. Slow down and take a look at the top areas of your life that are feeding burnout.
Burnout is never worth it and it’s avoidable.
It may seem that you are waving the white flag in defeat by slowing down or setting things aside for a bit. But what you may find is that you come out on the other end even more prosperous than you had imagined.
It’s imperative that you take stock of your situation; to come to a better understanding of what is causing you exhaustion, and to understand how to manage it more efficiently. You can do this on your own, however, it may be hard to see clearly with an exhausted mind. If you find that you need a helping hand with this, it’s OK to reach out to your support systems.
COMMON CAUSES OF BURNOUT
Whether you are in business for yourself, have landed your “dream job”, or are simply holding down a job to make ends meet; your career is often the primary source of stress. When you’re in a career—especially one that pays well—it can be difficult to see all of the possibilities that lay outside of it. It’s easy to become settled in and comfortable in your current situation… all while being uncomfortable.
You may be telling yourself that your current job is your “calling” (which may be true), or think about all of the time that you’ve spent working towards getting there – fearful of having to give it all up.
But if you don’t do something different a burnout is going to force you to anyway. It’s better to re-evaluate your work situation now before stress-related health problems do it for you.
This doesn’t mean that you must leave your job, even if the thought of it is nice – or jump-ship on the business that you’ve poured your everything into. It could mean simply cutting back, relaxing a bit, and finding healthier ways to approach your work. It could mean taking some time off, not taking on too much at once, and letting go a bit – letting things unfold without the need to exercise so much control.
Finances are another major cause of stress. You may be reckless with money or took a hit and fell behind somehow. But it’s not going to get better on its own. If finances are an issue, it can be scary, downright dreadful to take a look at them. But it’s a must. Sitting down and looking at what’s causing you financial distress can help you get back on track and relieve some of your worries surrounding it. You can find out where you need to cut back, where you can save more, and what’s the priority.
This may not fix all of your financial woes, but it will give you a sense of control over them. A lot of what causes you to stress about money is feeling a lack of control.
Relationships demand your time and energy. Relationships are a lot of work. That’s why it’s important to know which ones are actually benefiting you and which ones are causing you harm. If a relationship –be it a friendship, romantic partner, business associate, or other—is causing you negativity, it might be time to move on. And conversely; the relationships that make you feel good, or bring you reciprocity in some way, may be worth the time and the effort that go into them. Those are relationships that are worth holding on to and those are the people who will understand and support you through stressful times.
If you expect to keep “going the extra mile”, then it is important to look after your body that’s going to get you there. Diet, as referenced here, is not to be mistaken with adapting to any sort of body image standards that society attempts to force upon you. It’s simply the act of treating your body well, thanking it for all that it’s done by giving it healthy foods that replenish it. Your body will thank you for this by supplying you with more energy and a stronger immunity against stress.
After you’ve taken stock in these areas and others; you may find that you are able to let some things go, and to better prioritize where you’d like to put your energy.
9. Get Out in the World in a different way…
This pointer can be especially helpful if you don’t have any current hobbies or an active support system. Joining a community of like-minded people—or simply getting out into your community to give back somehow—is an excellent way of meeting new people and gaining fresh perspectives.
Getting out and into anything can seem just about impossible when you’re exhausted. I know, how can you join anything when you’re so drained and can’t even think straight? But joining a group of people helps you to take the focus off of yourself and your problems. It allows you to get outside of yourself for a bit. This is especially true when helping others.
If you can step outside of yourself for a few moments, your problems may seem much smaller and they may even be forgotten altogether. Giving—if only your time—to others makes you feel good about yourself.
Feeling burned out is more common than you may think. And since
There are plenty of others out there feeling exactly the same as you are, you may find it helpful to connect with them. Support groups will give you an outlet and a rock to lean on.