Burnout – How to recognise if it is happening to you
Burnout and learning to deal with it enables you to live life in a more calm, peaceful, balanced way.
“All work and no play is a great recipe for an imbalanced life”
Recognising the signs of burnout before it happens is vital for overall health and wellness. I can thank my lovely daughter for the topic of this Blog as this is something she is dealing with right now.
Burnout in menopause
For a woman in menopause, dealing with burnout is high priority. During this time the body is already going through many physical changes. Emotions are also affected with fluctuating hormones that impacts mood, energy levels and vitality.
A menopausal woman going through the experience of burnout is likely to be very challenged, physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is even further complicated if she is holding down a high powered job, with deadlines to meet, and staff to manage.
High achievers generally like to push themselves hard to reach their goals. Whilst this may satisfy their “I can do it all” personalities, it is also affecting many parts of their life in a negative way.
How many times have you pushed yourself beyond your limits with work? How many times have you said yes, when your body is screaming NO! Even when your body is letting you know that it needs rest? Do you find yourself putting in extra hours at the office with no reward or recognition? Most of all are you partly to blame for burnout when it happens? Perhaps because you continue to say yes to others but no to yourself.
We all have access to 24 hours a day
We all have access to 24 hours a day and a personal choice on how we spend our free time. However, the choices we make will certainly have an effect on overall wellbeing, productivity and energy levels. If you decide that you need to stay behind at work for another hour or two when you know you wanted to go to an exercise class, how does that make you feel? Pushing yourself harder and harder in all aspects of your life is ultimately going to lead you towards burnout and problems.
The symptoms of burnout are unpleasant. Over time the immune system is compromised and weakened, leaving you more vulnerable to illnesses and disease.
Here are some common symptoms that you may notice within yourself, but there are many more in addition to this:
- A feeling that you just can’t take on any more responsibility
- Feeling out of control with your life
- Chronic stress
- Lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
- Sleep issues
- Loss of appetite or in some cases increased appetite
- Low moods
If you recognize any of the above within yourself, take it as a wake up call that you really need to address your lifestyle as soon as possible.
Imagine that your body has its own energy tank, just as your car has a petrol tank. Of course you stop to refuel the petrol tank when your car is on empty. If you were to continue to drive the car on empty it would eventually come to a stop. The same applies to your body. When your energy tank is empty your body will stop working for you.
Burnout is not something you wake up with, it happens progressively. It is said that burnout and chronic stress are the same thing or closely related. Indeed, the symptoms of both are very similar.
A balanced lifestyle is key to living life in a happier, healthier, more peaceful, way. Why not stop for a moment, get yourself a pen and a piece of paper. Draw a circle and segment slices off to represent the amount of time spent in each segment of:
- Me time/rest
The results of this may surprise you and make you realize that an imbalanced lifestyle has crept up on you.
It is common for super high achievers, and people who push themselves incredibly hard to let a balanced lifestyle take a low priority. Many don’t sleep enough hours, eat healthily, exercise enough, and many fall into numbing the discomfort of an imbalanced lifestyle with alcohol and sometimes drugs.
When was the last time you truly relaxed? I have heard clients tell me that they don’t know or remember how to feel relaxed. Recharging, rejuvenating, and relaxation is going to help keep you energized, enthusiastic and give you more vitality.
Everyone has their own preference for relaxation, so whether that is taking time to read your favourite book, unleash your creativity, meditate, or mindfulness. Whatever is is that you enjoy that moves you into the relaxation zone, do more of it!
Regular exercise has many benefits. It releases endorphins, relieves stress, makes you feel and look good. It also boosts your health and wellbeing.
There is no excuse to say that you don’t have time to exercise. A one-hour workout is literally 4% of your day. Exercise is about creating the time, not finding the time.
Regular exercise is going to pull you away from your work activities and general sense of busyness. Your mind is able to focus on something else. It need not be a gym workout, a twenty-minute walk is also beneficial, home exercise DVDs, attend exercise classes, or swim. There is a fantastic choice of exercise choices out there for you.
Recently I found myself guilty of not exercising enough due to sedentary work. At Christmas I received a great fitness wrist band (I won’t mention the name) that records all sorts of fitness and health details. This one buzzes at me if I haven’t moved for an hour. This is hugely useful for me particularly when I am in my writing flow and forget all about the time. It is a good motivator.
Do what you can to motivate yourself to exercise, Buddy up, book classes, work out from home, skip while cooking, bounce on a mini trampoline while watching TV, but get moving. Your mind and body will thank you.
Sleep Issues and Insomnia
These are very common and can leave you feeling exhausted, tired, irritable and unable to function effectively in all aspects. One of the worst feelings of burnout is the feeling of being totally exhausted, and drained yet unable to sleep.
Your body rejuvenates itself during sleep and quality of sleep is just as important if not more so than quantity. Switch off your devices a couple of hours before bed as the blue light emitted is very disruptive to sleep patterns. There is a separate blog on this on www.flourishbeyond40.com
Learn to say no and mean it.
Being assertive isn’t always easy, but in terms of your overall wellbeing it is non negotiable. If you feel tired, lacking in energy or vitality and someone is pushing you towards doing something you feel you just cannot do, learn to say no. Yes, there may be consequences, but what about the consequences of you heading towards burnout.
If work is getting on top of you and you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, them make sure you speak to your employer about how you feel. This lets those involved know that they need to consider your needs and perhaps make some changes to reduce your load.
If you are an entrepreneur and work from home, then you may think that balance would be easy? In many cases it is more difficult. Working for yourself means that you do not have benefits such as sick pay, or holiday pay, and you may find that you are working even harder to cover those times when you are off.
Burnout is something to be aware of at all times whether you work for yourself, or someone else, or even if you have a pressurised home life. Recognising some of the symptoms and behaviour described above may help you to take a step back and assess your lifestyle. You can then implement changes immediately to lead you back towards living a happier, balanced, peaceful, less stressed life.
What about you? How is your work, life balance? Is it time to make some changes?