What to do when you are burned out
When you have a job, people who depend on you, the bills, the house to clean, the exercise routine to keep up with, the meditation practice you want to focus on, supper to cook, books to read, things to learn, and free time to cherish, you can easily get burned out. It would be nice to fit a million things that we want to do into our day, but there is only so much time from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. And, if you try to pack everything into your day, and add unexpected events, disrespectful people, and failures into the mix, feeling burned out is not likely – it’s guaranteed!
What Does Burned Out Mean?
It means that you are collapsing under the weight of work and stress. Although, work doesn’t just mean your job. It means all the stuff that you have to do in the day that you have committed to.
7 Big Signs That You Are Burned Out
When you are burned out, you have been pushed to your max and you are stressed out. There are many different signs of this, but following are the most common signs that people complain about.
1. You Are Extremely Tired
You don’t have a health condition that includes fatigue, but you are so tired and you just can’t explain it. Or, you are more tired than normal, even though fatigue is something you’ve dealt with for a while.
You want to stay in bed in the morning, go back to bed a few hours after you get up, and feel drained when you are faced with all the tasks that you must do in the day. Napping has become your number one goal.
You may even be drained to the point that you can’t focus and do what you need to do, so you give up and go lay down or watch TV or do something that doesn’t require any effort whatsoever.
Your duties at work and at home may suffer because of it too. You may miss important deadlines because you just can’t get the energy to do them, or you may forget about them altogether.
2. You Don’t Get Anything Done Well
When you have too much on your plate, you are being pulled in all directions. You have to get this done, but you want to get this done, and you should have already gotten that done! Your attention is being pulled all over the place that you can’t focus long enough on something to actually get it done well.
Your work may be suffering. What used to take you a day to do may take you a few days to finish up. And, you may be making many more mistakes than you used to make.
Your personal life may be suffering. Your friends and family may feel neglected and underappreciated. And, you may not feel like you have really spent quality time with them.
Your home life may be suffering. Your house may look a lot less clean than it used to. You may not have anything in order and you may be losing more stuff in your home that you could have sworn you just had.
3. You Want To Get Away
You have never wanted to get away more. You are fed up with things, and you want out. In fact, you want out so badly that you are thinking about shrugging off all your responsibilities and leaving today without telling anyone where you are going.
Or maybe you want to get away from the thing that is burning you out. For instance, you may have a burning desire to throw in the towel at work and quit, even though you have no other source of income in the works. Or, you may want to end a long-term relationship because you feel like it is too straining on you and causing you to have to deal with too much in your day.
4. You Are Having Unexplained Physical Problems
A pain in your stomach, constant backaches, or digestion problems are just a few of the physical problems that can occur from being burned out. Considering these problems come from a lot of different ailments, they can be waved off as part of something else. But, if you have been complaining about them more and more, then that is a huge sign that you are burned out and your body is trying hard to signal that to you.
In addition, you may be sick more than usual. When you are really burned out, your body weakens, inflammation rises, and you are more susceptible to colds and sickness. In one study, volunteers were actually exposed to viruses, and those that had been to long-term threatening stressful experiences were at higher risk of developing a cold. [Source: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995.abstract]
5. The Fun Has Been Sucked Out Of Life
Work used to have some meaning, and it may have even been something you enjoyed doing, but now it is just work. You don’t like it. You don’t want to do it. You complain about it to yourself and to other people.
Moreover, taking care of yourself used to be something that felt rewarding, but now it just feels like more work. In fact, everything in life is starting to feel like work that you have to force yourself to do. Every day is full of tasks that make you feel miserable as you think about doing them and as you do them.
6. Your Friends And Family Are Telling You To Relax
People outside of a situation have the most perspective sometimes. If your loved ones are telling you that you look tired or that you are taking too much on, then they likely have a reason for doing so! They can probably see that you are burned out – or close to it, and you are doing too much and adding too much stress in your life.
Of course, we can all handle a different amount of work and responsibility in life. They may have no clue what they are talking about and be basing their opinions off their lives. But, if you are irritable, tired, and ticked off at things, and other people are telling you that you need to take some time off or relax, then you are probably burned out and just haven’t been able to acknowledge it yet.
7. You Can’t Make A Decision
Even on the important things, your decision-making skills are lacking. Left, right, up, down… you don’t know which way you should go anymore. You seem to have brain fog and can’t see clearly, so you can’t pick a choice that makes sense to you. And, it is making you angry and sad at the same time because it doesn’t feel like you are moving anywhere in life. You are stuck at a crossroads, and even though there are many options available to you, you just can’t pick which way to go.
What To Do About Burnout
If you think that you are burned out, then you need to start shifting around your life today. You need to limit the amount of workload and stress you have. You need to get organized. You need to develop a new outlook on what you are doing. And, you need to listen to your body and take care of it.
1. Limit Your Workload
Don’t try to do too much at once, especially in times of high stress. You may want to outsource some of your life at first and see how that goes. Outsourcing is important if you can do it. Giving other people tasks that you just can’t bring yourself to do or don’t want to do anymore can help you relieve the stress from not getting things done. Getting things done without having to put any work into it – besides some direction, will feel great.
If you can, take more time off from the things that are burning you are. For instance, if your job is working you to the bone, and you are starting to feel less productive because of it, then you may want to ask for more time off. Maybe an extra day. Maybe shorter hours. Whatever you can work out. And, if you can’t work out anything, then you may need to look for a new job where you can have more balance in life.
Lastly, dump the things that aren’t necessary. This will help you get rid of some tasks in your life and ease up your workload. If you have too many ideas going on at once, then pick one and put the rest on the back burner to tackle once something more important to you is finished.
2. Get Organized
When I first heard of Simpleology, and their slogan that you can get a week’s worth of stuff done in a day, I didn’t buy it. But, once I used their tools and principles, I found myself getting more done and having more time to relax. Basically, you get clear on what you have to do, schedule times to do it by priority, and then get it done.
This won’t work for everyone who is burned out, but for many people, it will. Getting more organized can help you figure out what you have to do and take a lot of the thought and tension out of the process.
3. Get A New Outlook On Your Life
You are doing a lot of things, and doing things that mean something to you should be rewarding, not a stressful thing. Sometimes when the stress gets too much, it is hard to see those things as meaningful anymore. Once you reduce the workload and get organized, try to view your day in a much more positive way. In fact, change your whole outlook on life.
For example, find the value in a dreaded task at work. If it is something that you don’t like doing or is very hard, look at it from a different angle and figure out who it is helping or whose life you are making better by doing it. A friend of mine used to work in housekeeping at a hospital, and she hated her daily routine until she changed how she looked at it. Instead of seeing it as cleaning and demeaning, she viewed it as a way to make patients happier and healthier. Instantly, she felt better about her work and more energetic towards her job and life because she felt like she had more purpose.
4. Take Care Of Your Body
Lastly, take care of your body. When it tells you that it is physically tired, don’t push it. When it feels limp and weak, strengthen it through exercise and proper nutrition. When your mind can’t focus, meditate. When it needs sleep, go to sleep. Do what you need to do to keep your body working at optimal levels, and you will find that you will have less physical and mental stress.
Your body comes first. If you are not running at maximum speed, then you can’t help out yourself or other people. You can’t make the most out of your efforts. So, pay attention to the signs your body sends you (and it will send you signs that you need to pay attention to!), do what you need to do, and reap the rewards of more energy.
Sometimes Feeling Burned Out May Just Be From A Lack Of Results
If you are someone who feels burned out because you are not seeing any results from your work, then you need to get excited about delayed gratification. We often get burned out when we are expecting our efforts to give us more than they are giving us. For instance, all that work we are doing on the latest project isn’t giving us any rewards, and if it would just give us something amazing, we would have a renewed sense of energy that could help us push through.
Unfortunately, instant gratification is not something that happens often, and our expectations will likely not come through, which means more worry, anxiety, and stress, and more likelihood of burnout.
With delayed gratification, we get to look forward to a job well done or an end result that makes us feel proud and accomplished at the same time. Looking forward to that delayed gratification, that we know is going to feel so good, can help us enjoy the process as we go along and not stress ourselves out to the point of burning out.
As a blogger, this is something that I know well. You have to put in a lot of effort in order to see some amazing results. In the beginning, it was hard to keep going without any huge benefits, and I was getting burned out from putting so much effort in with so little reward, but once I realized that my efforts were adding up to something bigger, and started to see them as worthy and part of the fun of success, I felt more energetic towards what I was doing.
Therefore, enjoy the process. Know that it is going to get you to where you want to go, and enjoy each moment along the way.
Difference Between Burnout And Depression
A lot of the signs of burnout are similar to depression. Fatigue, inability to concentrate, desire to run away from everything, and irritation and other mood shifts are common to both. So, how can you tell whether you are burned out or depressed?
Burnout occurs from being stressed out with what you are doing in your day. By changing your viewpoint on your work and duties, and by lessening the load, you should start to feel better. If you are depressed, things like feelings of hopelessness, irritability, unhappiness, low energy, and thoughts of suicide will stick around once your free time expands. You may find yourself being unable to enjoy your new sense of freedom or outlook, no matter how hard you try. This is a sign to get to your doctor and talk about your symptoms.