Burning the midnight oil... (Burnout)

Burnout - one of my favorite topics after experiencing it for the past few years. It is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by constant, excessive and prolonged stress. It causes one to feel overwhelmed, emotionally and physically drained, increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. It could be due to organizational change, having an unreasonable leader with no emphatic skills, feeling undervalued and overworked especially during this global pandemic, challenges on the personal front - the 24/7 parenting and perhaps care of an elderly parent, and it could be due to a combination of work, and home. You may try balancing work and life but if there are some circumstances that are out of your control, it may be even more challenging. Burnout is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it can creep up on you. The signs and symptoms are subtle at first, but become worse as time goes on.

What are some of the symptoms to look out for:

Physical:

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time

  • Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses

  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain

  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional:

  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and hopeless

  • Isolated - feeling alone in the world

  • Loss of motivation

  • Sense of self-doubt

  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook

  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

  • Loss of trust of those around you

  • Constant negative rumination of the outlook at work / home / relationships

Behavioral:

  • Isolating yourself from others

  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done

  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope

  • Taking out your frustrations on others - speaking harshly, making sniping comments, snapping at others easily

  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities

What can you do to help yourself:

  1. Find ways to balance life and work - take time for self care of doing something you enjoy that will take your mind off the situation - going for a walk, meditating, massage

  2. Connect with close friends / family, people that you can trust and feel safe with to talk about what you are going through

  3. Seek help with a therapist / counselor. Don't underestimate talk therapy - it helps to get the weight off the chest. Speaking to a therapist helps with seeing a different perspective, and allows you to talk about your issues with no worries of being judged. As an EFT practitioner, this is one the the best tools I have used for grounding, seeking clarity and releasing stress from the mind and body.

  4. Look at your options, re-evaluate - what can be changed or perhaps a change in perspective

  5. Take a short break - use up the vacation time. For stay home parents, look for help even if its a few hours each week. Time out is very important for parents, take turns if possible to care of the children / elderly.

  6. Exercise and eat healthy. What you eat and having a good workout can have an impact on your body and mind.

If you are facing the symptoms of burnout or constant stress, know that there are options to care for yourself and that you are not alone. Pause, re-evaluation, and re-prioritize what is important for you and your well being. You are important and you are worth it!