The term burnout has become a common phrase in our busy society, one in which I have noticed people tend to use and not heed. Burnout is not to be taken lightly. It is a problem that significantly interferes with one’s health, happiness and overall quality of life.
Unfortunately, few burnout victims see it coming, even though they have been saying they feel burnt out for some time. It is like we choose not to tune in and listen to our own cry for help, until it is too late. Then we are forced to slowdown rather than choosing to slow down. It seems people feel they don’t have a CHOICE. Too often I hear clients say, ‘People are relying on me, I can’t let THEM down.’ ‘There are too many deadlines to meet.’ ‘There is too much that needs to get done and I am the only one who can do it.’ It seems that as a society we find it hard to choose meaningful self-care and to relax into the simpler things in life. Everything is go, go, go…. Burnout!
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you identify the signs of burnout early enough by truly listening to your owner inner exhaustion and physical symptoms, you can reverse the downward spiral. You just need to choose self-care! Which in turn is care for others (just like the oxygen mask on the plane). Self-care is counter intuitive, often people will feel guilty putting themselves first, but it is when we can take care of ourselves, that we are of benefit to others.
So, what are the signs of burnout?
They are varied and many such as, physical and emotional exhaustion leading to fatigue; anxiety; depression; loss of appetite; feelings of cynicism and detachment; insomnia or disturbed sleep; impaired concentration, attention difficulties and forgetfulness; a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Physical symptoms range from chest pain; heart palpitations; shortness of breath; stomach upset; tension headaches; dizziness and fainting.Together these physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms will eventually lead to an inability to successfully function on a personal and professional level.
The worst mistake people make is to try and mask the symptoms of burnout by self-medicating with alcohol, pharmaceuticals or overeating. The best thing you can do for yourself is be honest with yourself, choose to reach out for support, choose to give yourself time off and choose to make some changes to how you work and live, before burnout chooses for you!