Now more than ever folks are talking about burnout. Symptoms include feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, and a general disconnection from work or your personal life.
If so, you may be experiencing burnout. Read on for some tips for identifying and addressing burnout.
Burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity and accumulates over an extended period of time. While burnout is most frequently associated with work, anyone can have burnout.
Contrary to regular stress, which is usually caused by too much at once, burnout is a gradual process that can creep up on you. You may be working so hard that you don’t even realize it’s happening. You may be trying to wear too many hats between your professional and personal lives and if it’s always go, go, go, you’re risking a burnout.
If you’re always taking the “I need to do everything” or “if I don’t do it, nobody will” approach, it can backfire on you. Despite Herculean efforts, nobody is capable of doing it all, all the time, relentlessly. If you’re experiencing burnout, here are some tips to help you identify and manage it, and prevent it from recurring.
Assess your energy levels. Do this for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self. How’s your mood? Are you irritable, moved to tears frequently, completely exhausted or can’t really feel anything? Make a list of all of your responsibilities and tasks in both your personal and professional life. Keep a log for a week, written down on paper if possible so you can see it all spread out in front of you.
Identifying, setting and enforcing boundaries is the single most important step when it comes to recovering from burnout, as well as preventing future occurrences. It can be very difficult to accept our limitations, especially when you’re used to being the “doer” in the family or at work. But after a while, our bodies start to send us clues that we need to take a break, such as headaches, stomach aches, and body aches. Just as your cell phone battery needs charging, your body can only last so long before it needs recharging too. This often requires learning how to say “no” and finding ways to communicate your boundaries or limitations with loved ones, which can be especially difficult.
A professional therapist can help you identify areas in your life that are contributing to burnout, and can relieve the pressure of having to figure it out on your own. Burnout can be a very isolating experience. A therapist can help you to examine what you’re experiencing in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming, and can provide tips on how to manage the overwhelm and boundary-setting.
Recovery from burnout is possible, but it takes time and effort. Reexamining your priorities and identifying your limitations can help you restore the joy and balance in your life. As a therapist, I know that the process can be challenging; but I also know there is hope because I’ve seen it (many times) firsthand. If you’re experiencing burnout and need some help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another trained therapist for support.