You’ve made all kinds of attempts to get a grip, to rest, to breath- but constant stress has you feeling helpless and completely exhausted.
Your problems seem overwhelming. Everything looks bleak and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care, let alone take action to help yourself.
You have gotten to the point of burnout.
Let me pull you aside and tell you: you are not alone. So many of us reach a point of burnout where we feel completely overwhelmed and worn out.
It happened to me multiple times. Here is what I have learned when I had researched the topic of burnout, and this is what you should do to pull yourself out of it.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.
How to know if you have reached the point of burnout?
Here are some of the most common signs of burnout:1
- Do you feel alienated from your day to day activities at home and at work?
Individuals experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with. They may also emotionally distance themselves and begin to feel numb about their work.
- Are you noticing physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary?
Chronic stress may lead to physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
- Do you feel tired and drained?
Burnout causes people to feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. They often lack the energy to get their work done.
- Do you feel that you are having a harder time getting things done?
Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work—or in the home when someone’s main job involves caring for family members. Individuals with burnout feel negative about tasks. They have difficulty concentrating and often lack creativity.
- Do you self-medicate?
Are you drinking more? Smoking more? Using more sleeping pills? Eating more or less than usual?
If you are at a point of burnout and you have just realized it, half of your work toward feeling better is already done! This is because many times we are so drained that we do not even stop to realize where we are and how we got there. You can get yourself out of burnout mode and you can start immediately today. Being in burnout mode just means you need to make some clear and immediate changes.
Here are Five Things that You Can Do Differently Today:
- Take 15 every two hours.
Take 15 minutes for designated rest. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you stop the rat race and keep yourself occupied but doing something that will give your mind a break from anxiety and multi-tasking. You can take a walk, you can listen to a podcast, you can read, you can shower, you can talk to someone you love. No matter what you do, give your mind a break for fifteen minutes every three hours. Not only that you will end up being more focused and productive, but you will also regain your sense of calm and control.
- Get organized
Much of the stress we experience on a daily basis doesn’t necessarily come from having too much work; it comes from being too disorganized to handle the work effectively. The problem is jumping from task to task without taking the time to stop, plan and get organized. Stop everything that you are doing and write a short to do list for today and another short one for tomorrow. Leave yourself lines for checkmarks for completed tasks. Now put it in front of you and check things off as you go.
- Lean on Your Support System and Socialize
You may be thinking that you are too worn out to even talk to others, needless to say- to listen. But this exactly is what will get you out of your own head. Who can you talk to that you like enough to enjoy the conversation? Who can you share with how overwhelmed you are? And if you don’t feel close enough to anyone- who can you just enjoy reaching out to? Get yourself un-isolated. Company heals burnout as long as you are in the company of people that you love and that support and accept you.
- Practice Positive Thinking
If you are telling yourself negative things like
“This will never work out”
“I don’t know how I can do this”
or “this is going to be a disaster”- stop now.
Telling yourself these discouraging things that you keep repeating in your mind only wears you out. Change your phrases:
“I got this”
“I am going to figure this out”
“One thing at a time”
“I can do this”
Be your own cheerleader. And be a good one too. There is a reason for sports teams to have cheerleaders- when the spirits are up the performance is up. Can you imagine a team’s performance with a group of negative cheerleaders?
Sounds horrible, right?
Then don’t do this to yourself.
Disconnecting is the most important burnout strategy and let me be clear about what it means. Disconnect from anything that drains you: negative people, social media that makes you feel bad about yourself, time-wasters- goodbye to them all. Connect yourself to positive people, positive content (talks, books, podcasts, articles, anything that will fill your mind with positive and good things). You choose what to connect to and what to disconnect from. You control if you get to the point of burnout or if you pull yourself out.
You matter. Your state of mind matters. Fueling yourself with good matters. Take control.