Updated: Feb 2
You are feeling tired, a bit negative, unmotivated Dreaming of white sands, or moving to the moon? Are you wondering if you simply need a vacay or actually need a reset. Confused if you are burnt out and not just in need of a slower routine for a week. Let me offer you three ways to know the difference. If you are burnt out ...
You are most likely experiencing recurring stress that you have given up trying to manage (or never even tried to.)
You feel exhausted to your toes - emotionally, intellectually, physically which has an impact on your productivity (brain fog anyone?) and the pride you take in your work is no longer there.
You are quite disengaged, even from things you previously enjoyed... going through the motions, autopilot style.
You dream of escaping, running away, getting in your car and driving until you can no longer be contacted. You are trying to outrun your emotions, numb your woe....
Does this help you understand why, if you are burnt out, you may be escaping or running away from your emotions by over eating, over drinking, over spending, over facebooking, etc.... These are ways to distract you from the intense negative feeling you feel. Funny how our brain will do whatever it can to seek escape ... even if the escape is harmful.
And burn out doesn't just happen at work. One can be burnt out in any role with which one identifies - wife, mother, daughter, friend, volunteer, lover, citizen. Alternatively, If you need a vacay ....
you feel smacks of burn out, but not as intensely.
You still feel love for your work and interest in growing in your role, knowledge, and expertise.
You know that a week or so to step away from your role will refuel you and give you the energy you need to reset boundaries, priorities and routines. The beach, the mountains, that city won't be a way to escape, but rather a way to refuel.
So, if you read the above and think, "Yup, I'm burnt out, what now?" No need to run away to Tahiti... I have a few ideas:
Really check in with yourself...biologically and psychologically your person needs to experience autonomy, security, health, connection, leisure, and purpose. Where is your well the most dry? Do you find meaning in your life? Do you have connections with other? Are you allowing yourself time to rest? You may be out of balance more than in burn out. Solvable. Choose the area where you are most in need and create a plan - weekly date with a friend, alone time, new volunteer role, walk every morning.
Set very clear boundaries, at work and home - non negotiable hours you are willing to work, the work you are willing to take on, the help you are willing to offer your colleagues, what you are willing to do for the home, the children, your partner. (this should allow for more leisure and health)
So obvious, but vital.... create a sleep routine, an exercise routine, eat food that fuels you, set up dates with your friends (zoom or in person - both provide you a dopamine hit), take a walk outside - Vitamin D is a real booster. (again, connection, leisure, health)
Seek help - from a mentor, a coach, a therapist, your boss --- don't go it alone. It can be a life changer to tap into another's world view, perspective, wisdom on your way to lighting your fire again.
Burn out is more and more common as a result of the pandemic. No shame there. Give yourself grace and compassion if this is all new to you. And, create margin/space in your life to solve for it. It is solvable and does not require that trip to the moon. Promise.
Hugs, Kristin P.S. I realize the signs of burnout can also sound like depression. When one is depressed signs of burn out can be present, however the impairment extends beyond the one area of your life. Your exhaustion or negativity bleeds into all areas of your life. Depression is a medical disorder, unlike burnout which is an occupational condition. If you are concerned you are depressed, not just burnt out please read this article. P.P. S. Ready for a conversation about burn out? Let's chat. I know I can help you light up instead of burn out.