Do you ever feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew? Does every day feel like a chore? Is your life and all of its demands sucking all your energy out of you? Is your to-do list getting longer and longer, but your motivation to get things done growing weaker and weaker? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing burnout. But no worries, you know I’m always going to help you out! Keep reading to find out how you can beat burnout and feel like yourself again.
What is Burnout
The term burnout was first coined in 1974 by the psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger, in his book “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement.” Burnout is extremely common and can affect anyone, but research shows that it mostly affects people between the ages of 25 and 44. By definition, burnout is a state of exhaustion either mental, physical or emotional, that’s caused by excessive work or prolonged and unresolved stress. Other terms used in conjunction with burnout are chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal fatigue syndrome.
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Studies show that burnout is most commonly related to one’s work life, however, it can often spill over into your personal life too. When someone is experiencing burnout, they usually experience an overall lack of interest and a steep decline in motivation.
Burnout can have an extremely negative impact on your life both professionally and personally if you’re not careful. Symptoms of burnout include headaches, a constant feeling of pressure in your chest, and poor blood circulation.
Signs of Burnout
Although burnout normally happens to people that are often in high-pressure situations or environments, I believe that burnout can be felt by anyone. If you’re wondering if you’re truly experiencing burnout, see below for some common signs:
- Lower productivity
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling tired or drained all of the time
- Social withdrawal
- Avoidance of responsibilities
- Negative or cynical attitude about life
- Lower immune health and frequent illness
- Increased irritability
Burnout versus Stress
Many people often confuse burnout with stress and visa versa. Although it may feel like it at times, these are two different things that can lead to different long-term effects. That being said, chronic stress can lead to burnout. Stress is usually a result of feeling overwhelmed or constantly feeling anxious about something. One the other hand, burnout is usually a feeling of being underwhelmed in a sense and makes you feel hopeless and stuck. It’s very important to know the difference between the two so that you can manage them effectively. So, are you truly experiencing burnout, or is it just stress?
My Burnout Story
I’ll admit, I’ve experienced both burnout and stress before. Between work, being an author, managing my blog, and everything that my life has to offer, I risk feeling this way at any given time. Last year, I was at such a low point in my life. I even contemplated shutting down my blog and walking away from everything. (Read about my social media hiatus here.) I was completely stressed AND burned out and felt like I was losing control. All I wanted to do was sleep, I found myself becoming sick all of the time, and I detached myself from everyone. I didn’t even spend the holidays with my family! Thankfully, I was able to overcome it and get my stress under control. I’m not going to pretend to be perfect, it’s something that I am committed to working on and managing every day.
How to Beat Burnout
If you’re feeling burnout, you can overcome it just like I did. Although burnout is not currently considered a diagnosable psychological disorder, you should still take the measures to get it under control. The best way to overcome burnout in your life is to pay attention to the early warning signs and to act sooner rather than later. Because the longer you ignore the way you’re feeling, the worse the impact can be on your life. As with any major changes you make in your life, it’s best to start with small actionable steps. Take notice of how each step effects or changes your mood and add from there.
Change Your Environment
Sometimes all you need is to be in a new environment to get your mind right. Consider taking a quick getaway, or vacation to get back to feeling like yourself again. If that’s not enough, it may be necessary for you to completely remove yourself from whatever situation is leaving you feeling so depleted. Sometimes quitting your job, moving, or leaving that relationship is all you need.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Believe it or not, the foods that you consume do affect your brain and mental well-being. Try cutting back on the caffeine, foods that are high in refined sugars and foods. Instead, fuel your body with foods like vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood, and lean meats that are high in nutrients.
If you’re rolling your eyes at this one, I get it. Working out is probably one of my least favorite things to do. However, there’s something about being able to sweat out your frustrations that is empowering once you get it over with. Whatever your exercise of choice is…yoga, a brisk walk, a swim, dancing..whatever, I think it’s much more productive to redirect the negative energy you’re currently feeling and invest in yourself. Doing so will have much better long-term benefits than sitting and wasting away.
Get Clear on Your Priorities
You may be feeling so unmotivated and depleted because your current predicament is not fulfilling to you and your purpose in life. And that’s ok. You can always start over! But before you do, it’s vital to get clear on what you want for yourself, and what your priorities are.
Read my post “How to Get Your Priorities in Order with 5 Easy Steps” here.
Talk to Someone
When you’re feeling burnout, it’s good practice to try and get to the root of those feelings. Talking to someone about it can make all the difference for several reasons. One, simply expressing your feelings is much better than keeping it bottled up inside. Second, whoever you’re opening up to may be able to help you or encourage you. I’m a strong advocate for therapy (see my thoughts on therapy here) and I think that if you’re experiencing burnout, now would be a great time to consider hiring a therapist.
If you didn’t know, meditation is a great way for you to master your thoughts. Practice by taking deep breaths and getting a handle on your thoughts when you feel yourself becoming anxious or overwhelmed. The thing with meditation is that practice makes perfect, so keep at it!
Set Healthy Boundaries
It can be beneficial to establish healthy boundaries so that you can protect your mental and emotional space. For example, try leaving work at work a few nights a week. Don’t answer any work-related calls or bring any work home with you. Or better yet, after a certain hour, disconnect all of your devices and focus solely on yourself. My favorite is saying “No!” I know it may be difficult to do, but that simple word can help you stop overextending yourself.
Have you ever felt burnout? How did you overcome it? Let me know below in the comments.
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