Updated: Aug 22
Do you know that according to Forbes over 52% of people suffered from burnout last year alone? Unfortunately, 50% of those who experience burnout are women.
I bet that you know somebody who suffers from burnout, or possibly you are in this group yourself. Have you noticed how nobody talks about it?
Yes, you may complain about the stress at work, how you can’t find time for leisure anymore, or how your life lost a bit of meaning lately. You may have even noticed that you feel tired, unmotivated, and uninspired. But you take it as life.
When was the last time you said to yourself it is, what it is?
The truth is that nobody wants to talk about burnout. I know that certainly, I didn’t want to. Talking about burnout is hard, and it takes courage to break the silence.
But the only way to see the light at the end of the tunnel is to go through the tunnel first. So, let’s talk about burnout, its symptoms, and how to recover from burnout.
What Is Burnout?
I would need to say that it is not that easy to spot burnout. Why? Because burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. And if we look at what has been happening in the world in the last year alone, who wouldn’t feel exhausted?
Changes in the working environment, global pandemic, financial stress, or abnormal weather conditions are all big stressors. Your internal world may also bring some instability. Maybe your loved one is battling an illness, your teenage kids are growing up, and you worry about their future, or the global recession brings tension with your partner.
It’s natural and completely expected that sooner or later, you will feel like the crisis has no end and the sun will never come out. But burnout goes deeper than that.
When you experience burnout, you lose the sense of meaning, feel hopeless and lifeless, and no longer care about things that are important to you. You may even experience depression and find it hard to enjoy and engage in your normal daily activities.
My days were rather bleak, and nothing I did brought me joy, even things that mattered to me lost their appeal. I no longer cared if I ate, if I went to work, or how I showed up each day. I had difficulties getting up, and the moment I got up, I wanted to crawl back into bed.
I didn’t have the mental or physical energy to do anything, whether it was exercising, working, or even resting. In a way, burnout is your detachment from life.
What Causes Burnout?
As you can see, burnout isn’t one-dimensional. It can appear in different forms at different times. It is a complex state, and there isn’t a single cause of burnout.
The most common causes of burnout are being overwhelmed, overworked, lack of time, and taking on more responsibilities than you can handle. Add living in never-ending high stress, and you find yourself with no energy.
But underneath it, all is a lack of self-care.
I know that when I was struggling with burnout, self-care wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what it was. I thought I didn’t need it.
I thought that self-care is reserved for others, but as a high-achieving woman, I could handle anything. I associated self-care with relaxation massage and trips to spas.
But self-care is much simpler than that. True self-care is eating food that nourishes you and gives your physical energy, an adequate amount of sleep so you feel refreshed in the morning, positive self-talk so you can cope with the high levels of stress in your life, and nurturing relations with people you care about.
Yes, you can add a relaxation massage and a nice trip to the spa to the mix, but you need to take care of yourself first before you look for external forces. As Maya Angelo says nothing will work until you do.
If you suspect that your self-care is non-existent. Don’t be hard on yourself. It only means that somewhere along the way you forgot about yourself.
And burnout is here to tell you that you need to stop doing what you’re doing. You need to pause and be in the moment for a while. It’s time to take care of yourself.
Because burnout is a physical, mental, and emotional state of exhaustion, the symptoms you will experience are also physical, mental, and emotional. The cumulation of them all is what burnout is.
Lacking energy from time to time and feeling tired or unmotivated on a cold morning is normal, and frankly part of being human. You can’t be expected to always deliver 100%, 24/7 without a slight sign of fatigue.
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel hopeless for a moment when you face a challenging situation, you have a lonely weekend, or your latest project didn’t bring the results you hoped for. It’s an illusion to always have a smile on your face and say how wonderful life is.
Facing challenges and hardship is part of life, and without low moments, you can’t rise to the top. You can’t show your true worth, and you can’t act as a role model.
But when you feel like the main decision-maker in your life is stress, overwhelm is derailing every anticipation of acting, and depression moved in permanently, then you know you suffer from burnout.
You see, I was living in a high stress, overwhelm, and with no energy for so long that I accepted that this was what my life was supposed to be. I felt depressed every morning, but I took it as part of my personality. I numbed my emotional states with good-quality wine thinking this would get me through the tunnel quicker.
It all worked until the symptoms of burnout became unbearable, and denying didn’t work anymore.
How to Recover From Burnout
What I’m about to say next may come as a surprise, but if you are suffering from burnout right now, I want you to see that as a good sign. Everything that is happening in your life is happening for you, not to you.
Burnout tells you that you need to shift from doing to being to regain strength and go back to normal. It is here to be your teacher and to make you stronger. I know you can’t see it at this moment but trust me on this.
So, how to recover from burnout? Break the silence.
I know that for me the hardest part wasn’t even admitting to myself that I was going through burnout. It was to say it out loud. I was terrified that somebody might actually hear it.
I’ll take a guess and I say that you are a highly ambitious, highly accomplished, and hard-working woman. Coming out of the burnout closet is scary. You are afraid to be seen as somebody who can’t handle a million tasks at work, a never-ending to-do list at home, and the numerous social obligations you do out of guilt.
But let me ask you this how would you like to arrive at your destination? Full of energy or burnt out? The trip is the same. The only difference is what will your physical, mental, and emotional state be.
So, I want to encourage you to come out and say it out loud. Because once you admit that you face burnout you can treat it. You can start building a self-care routine that supports you, you can search for tools to help you navigate the stress and overwhelm. And you can find out what burnout is here to teach you.
Your Next Step to End Burnout
Over 52% of people experienced burnout last year, so know that you are not alone. It is normal to feel tired, overwhelmed, or uninspired from time to time. However, the longer you live in high stress, the more responsibilities you take on, and the less self-care you practice, the higher your chances of you experiencing the full spectrum of burnout.
Your tiredness turns into exhaustion, your low moods into depression, and your aches into chronic fatigue. When you face burnout, take it as a sign that what you’re currently doing doesn’t serve you anymore.
Come out of the burnout closet and speak up. It will be that much easier to find the tools and strategies to treat burnout and look for sustainable ways to prevent it in the future. You’ve got this!
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