What is Burnout? Are You Suffering From It?
Do you feel exhausted all the time? Does the idea of going to work make you dread getting up in the morning? You can’t stay focused on any task and you just want to sit on the couch and scroll your phone? If you answered yes to these questions, you could very well be suffering from burnout.
Burnout is the result of prolonged stress that brings on mental and physical exhaustion. The most common causes of burnout are school and work. Or maybe, let’s say, a worldwide pandemic that completely flipped your life upside down? Then re-flipped it again when the world opened back up?
It seems like most of the world is experiencing collective burnout right now. It is one of the hardest types of exhaustion to go through. Especially if you hate your job, but money is tight. Or you find yourself not able to sleep throughout the night or sleep an unhealthy amount.
The most important remedy to this now worldwide crisis is making sure you create an environment you like to be in. If you lack enjoyment in your job or home life, you start treading a thin line between burnout and serious depression.
The fancy term for this is adrenal fatigue. Your cortisol levels continue to rise, you are exhausted all the time, and you struggle to find happiness. All while these raised cortisol levels put your body into the fight or flight response. So on top of the exhaustion and lack of joy, now you are experiencing higher levels of irritability, anxiety, and sometimes anger. Burnout is not for the faint of heart.
How to find happiness again
The great thing about life is that, in most cases, nothing is permanent. The same goes for burnout! Meaning there is a way to overcome it and get back to your old self. Sometimes it is easier said than done though.
Address the burnout
Break it down to the point where it is impossible to not find the answer. Take time for yourself and answer each of these questions to help you narrow down your burnout culprit.
- What emotions are you feeling?
- When do you start feeling those emotions?
- How long do those emotions last?
- Is there any time you are not feeling these?
- What environment are you usually in when you start experiencing symptoms?
- Are there any certain people that escalate these symptoms for you?
- What about your job/relationship(s)/home life makes you feel this way?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most, 1 being the least), how much impact would these symptoms have on you if your job/relationship(s)/home life was no longer part of your life?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most, 1 being the least), how much are you dreading going/talking to said burnout cause?
- Don’t think, just answer…what would make you happiest right now?
Burnout does not always have to be caused by work. Sometimes it can be caused by other people in your life or even yourself. If you have no hobbies and struggle with practicing self-care, you could be causing inner burnout.
Change your thought process
Even if your struggles are brought on by external factors, they can quickly be escalated by internal factors. Your mindset has a lot to do with the evolution of your symptoms, hence inner burnout. Thoughts such as, “I’ll never be good enough”, “I will be able to relax when ____”, and “I can’t do this, it isn’t productive” are all thoughts that tend to take your symptoms from manageable to insurmountable.
It is important to start complimenting yourself and your work. You need to allow yourself time to be you and do “unproductive” things as well. Start telling yourself, “I am allowing myself to do nothing when I get home.” or “My daily activities do not always have to be productive.”
Once you start telling yourself it is okay to relax and not stress out after you get home, you will start feeling freer. It feels good to sit and binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix every once in a while. How are you ever supposed to be productive at work or school when you are forcing yourself to try and be just as productive at home too?
Taking time for yourself is the most crucial part of the burnout healing process.
Set your boundaries
Today’s workforce promotes a lifestyle that includes working yourself to death. You spend a minimum of eight hours a day at work, then come home and find yourself still doing or thinking about things for work. It is no wonder burnout is becoming such an epidemic, people can never get away from their job!
Never escaping the work-life means you naturally veer away from doing things that bring you joy because they “aren’t productive.” Setting boundaries is the most important action you can take when you feel these symptoms arising.
You only work at work, you make time for yourself at home, and you do at least one thing every day that makes you smile. Humans were not born to work their entire life and then die. You were born to build a life you enjoy. Setting boundaries will give you that opportunity in a guilt-free manner.
Do things that make you happy daily
The number one and easiest answer to your problem is to quit your job and find something new. That is not always possible though. This is why it is important for you to take time for yourself each and every day. Start learning a hobby you have always wanted to try. Pick up your favorite book and reread it again. Maybe you could start working on a side hustle that will allow you to one day quit your job and be your own boss. The opportunities are endless when you start focusing on doing things to make yourself happy.
If you do not have something you look forward to each day, it is near impossible to free yourself from the symptoms of burnout. Allowing yourself to come alive is what makes life worth living. When you get home, it is your time to free yourself from the dread and exhaustion that work brings about.
Only then, will you find your symptoms start to dwindle. Tapping into your curious and creative abilities will give you enjoyment to look forward to and pleasure when you are feeling pain.
Burnout is a nasty mental illness that millions deal with each and every year. It is one that is difficult to overcome and spirals quickly. You can free yourself from it if you want. It takes some hard work, but everything worth having in life does. It will be worth it when the pain starts to fade away.
There are many ways to find happiness again:
- Start by addressing the problem at hand
- Work on changing your thought process to allow more freedom and happiness in your life
- Set your boundaries and stick to them. In any situation in life, boundary-crossing only leads to unhappiness
- Do things that make you smile each and every day. If your heart does not feel fulfilled, nothing in your life will
You will find your happiness again. This pain will not last forever. Right now, you are going through a large and difficult hurdle. The people who are most like to experience burnout are the ones who refuse to put themselves first. If you fail to take care of yourself, you will never be able to succeed in a healthy and sustainable manner. Once you start making yourself a priority, you will never stop. You deserve to come first.