Oh how I’ve been there. The many times I would love to blame my previous job and the endless 9-year road to completing my college degree, but I’ve come a long way in learning what it means to embrace inevitable times in life. Like the peaks and valleys we experience, hitting rock bottom is almost a telling way that we need to embrace change in our lives. There are clear signs you are burning yourself out, but we also need to know how important it is never to allow these signs to linger.
Since having left a job that I thought would be a huge weight lifted from my shoulders – a job that consistently left me feeling burnt out – I would be lying if I said making my career dream a reality and taking on a business at home has been any different. Different in many, many good ways – yes. Though there have been several points where I have hit rock bottom in the last year.
I have learned that when I hit that rock bottom, or reach the point of feeling burnt out, it is because I have allowed myself to invest in one thing over what’s also important in my life.
We can easily forget the importance of balance – we focus on one priority for so long that we eventually push the one thing that matters most down the totem pole: ourselves. So instead of finding ways to avoid burning yourself out (whether that be from your career or aspects of your personal life), its about acknowledging the signs and learning to get back up and dust yourself off.
7 SIGNS YOU ARE
BURNING YOURSELF OUT
[+ TIPS TO GET BACK UP AND DUST YOURSELF OFF]
YOU ARE PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED
I’m not talking about an off night of sleep every now and then, but consistently. Even if you are getting the recommended 8 hours and you can barely make it half way into the day without having to close pin your eyes open. The kind of physical exhaustion that makes your body hurt (literally) and the emotional exhaustion that leaves your brain in a constant fog.
While sleep is good (and if you’re sleeping – great), if you’re always left feeling tired that is something to take into serious consideration as far as your health and well being.
YOU SIMPLY CAN’T SLEEP
Then there’s insomnia. Speaking of – I just had a case of this the other night (my body’s annoying reminder that I am getting my period next week). So that is something to consider, if you haven’t. The menstrual cycle is a crazy thing, and can throw off your sleep schedule on the drop of a dime (thanks to hormones).
Otherwise, if you are having frequent trouble falling or staying asleep, think about what stresses could be contributing to your body and mind’s inability to wind down. If you feel this is something more serious than stress related, it would be your best bet to visit your doctor.
DIFFICULTY REMEMBERING AND CONCENTRATING
Let’s just say when it comes time that I FORGET to eat, that’s my cue to take a step back and prioritize my personal needs above all.
I mean honestly, who in the right mind forgets to eat?
Having a hard time remembering things or simply concentrating (including tasks unrelated to work) can be an indicator that you are running on pilot mode. This may not be a real thing, but in a sense it can feel that way if we are getting through days where we can hardly recollect driving home from work. Believe me, I can recall the experience.
Sure, while we may have these days every now and then, consistently and ongoing is where it can lead to a darker road.
Admit it, we can get pretty salty now and then. Whether it has to do with our work life, personal relationships or drama in between. Our hormones are constantly fluctuating all through the month – with peaks and lows – while there are times we are struggling to keep our sanity intact. Am I right?
We may frequently face sudden feelings of sensitivity and annoyance, or even anger – sometimes for no good reason at all. If you feel you are on edge more often than not, it might be time to acknowledge what area(s) of your life could be causing you to feel irritable. OK so maybe its your job that leaves you short-tempered day in and day out – the problem could be that you need to adjust the balance of your work and personal life.
COMPLETE LOSS OF INTEREST
So you’ve stopped going to book club… 3 months in a row. You dropped your gym membership because you can’t justify going once every two weeks. Your girlfriends haven’t seen you at the monthly paint night in over 6 months, and as for that unfinished home improvement project? It is still untouched and the paint can has dried out.
The point is – you’ve stopped doing what you love altogether. Not just because you have had to take extra shifts to pay off bills, but simply because you have no desire to fit it into your life anymore. While loss of interests can certainly lead to forming new ones, that isn’t always the case.
There was once a time in my life – working while also finishing my degree – where I was frequently overcome with guilt. The guilt for spending my spare time doing the things I loved – painting, writing, etc. – instead of what I thought I should be doing to further my career and be one step ahead in getting that piece of paper. Basically, it was my insecurities reinforcing that until I got my life in order, my personal needs shouldn’t come first. So, in turn, I lost interest in the things I once had a passion for.
This is a mindset that will leave you feeling empty. All in all, our passions play a part in shaping our personal growth for success – don’t let guilt tell you otherwise!
NEGLECTING YOUR PERSONAL NEEDS
This involves whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself, or whole on the inside. Whether that be as simple as washing your face in the morning – the point is that you are attending to your own needs above all else. Once we start neglecting those needs, our attitude, mood, outlook on life, confidence, ambition and motivation, passion, drive and overall satisfaction with life can slowly become impaired.
Without even realizing, when we are not happy with ourselves – nothing in our life will make us happy.
We may not hear this enough, but you are also in a relationship with yourself. To which you also need to give tender love, caring and attention to. Otherwise the return will be obvious – we, too, can suffer the consequences and feelings of neglect.
A CONSTANT NEGATIVE ATTITUDE
Here is the big picture for those with a negative attitude: its insanely difficult to be happy about anything, and I mean annnything – whether it has to do with you or not.
A negative attitude can be brought upon yourself or directed toward others. So you got that job promotion you worked so hard for – yet now you’re discouraged by the new workload so you begin undermining your abilities. Your best friend got engaged – when she knows you just got out of a difficult relationship – so it has been eating away at your ability to be happy for her ever since.
While those are just a few examples, we forget how incredibly easy it is to react negatively. Whether in terms of our failures (big and small), our misfortunes or from the combination of everything I just talked about above. Think about it – when we get into a cycle of emotional or physical deprivation, irritability and personal neglect it can most certainly create negative thinking.
13 TIPS TO GET BACK UP AND DUST YOURSELF OFF
IMPLEMENT THE “NO PHONE AFTER 00:00 RULE”
As if this is easier said than done – especially for those, like my husband, who is required to be on call 24/7. If that is something similar for you – I can understand that aspect – but that doesn’t mean you have to be incessantly scrolling through social media til all odd hours of the night. Set your phone on silent except for what means are necessary (such as work), and otherwise treat your phone like a landline where you only answer it when you hear it.
TAKE TIME OFF TO RECHARGE
Your mental health is just as much an important factor as anything else! We tend to let others tell us different, and that reward from hard work is earned. Yet we are so quick to allow our personal needs to hit rock bottom. We take the “What you put in is what you get back” too literally sometimes – by working ourselves into overdrive. No matter what your job title is or the workload on your hands – its impossible to perform at your fullest potential if you aren’t allowing yourself time to recharge. So start taking a day off because you want to, rather than needing to.
REMOVE EXTREMITIES FROM YOUR LIFE TO ALLOW MORE BREATHING ROOM
I know I am this way – I will fill my plate so full some days, or most days, and it leaves me feeling depleted. Why do we feel we have to have every second of every day blocked off? The overachiever in me is busting my butt right now – more than half of my personal achievements are simply because of that quality. Although, there are definitely times in my life I wished I hadn’t, said screw it to the “work hard now, play hard later” motto and put my personal needs FIRST.
Just because you have that extra hour doesn’t mean you should get the extra work in so you don’t have to “worry about it later“. Am I saying overachieving and being a hard worker is a surefire way to burn yourself out? Maybe. It also depends on how much you balance work life with personal life. We forget that we can still be hard workers without having to overachieve in every ounce of our work performance.
There are other ways to make space in your life, in order to allow yourself more breathing room – that is all dependent on what you are willing to change. Go to the gym 3 days a week instead of 5, stop going to happy hour every week or take the lunch hour instead of powering through it.
PENCIL IN MORE OF THE THINGS YOU ENJOY INTO YOUR SCHEDULE
Part of the problem is when we are feeling burnt out, we can lose all sense of enjoyment in the things we love. The other part of the problem is when we happen to get the time for those things, we are either too exhausted or disconnected from our personal needs. By implementing the above, schedule in more “me time” – stop cancelling on yourself or blowing your needs off as you see fit.
Make a point to read an hour before bed, leave work on time so you can make it to that yoga class you love or sleep that extra hour a few days a week instead of feeling like you have to beat rush hour and getting to work early. Sit in traffic like everyone else – still getting to work on time – yet feel good about having that extra hour of sleep under your belt.
We are so quick to write off our own personal needs when the expectations of others (yes, even our job) becomes more important.
STOP EXERCISING AT NIGHTTIME
I say this because I know we hear constantly that working out can be a big help to relieving stress, which it is – don’t get me wrong. If you are working out when its considered bedtime or even right after work – when your body is now in that winding down state – this may not be doing you any justice sleep wise. You are getting your blood flowing, endorphins on the rise and that umph of wake and alertness.
Instead, workout in the morning, during your lunch break or do lower impact workouts in the evening (like yoga).
Hey, just a suggestion.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DIET (OR LACK THERE OF)
I’m talking about what you are eating as well as loss in appetite. Its common that when we are on the verge of being burnt out we either lose sight of any appetite or binge when it isn’t appropriate. We don’t realize that what we are eating can actually contribute to our overall mood and energy levels. This should really be obvious to most, but in times of stress it isn’t always.
I’m notorious for having no appetite (its considered a lucky day if I get two meals in), while my husband is guilty of eating McDonalds days in a row. In the end, we both wonder why we feel like crap overall, can’t sleep, deal with stomach issues, have constant low to no energy after 8+ hours of sleep or have less of a desire to eat right because of it all.
The body needs fuel – the right fuel. So if you’re one to gets by on a granola bar until you get home at 6pm, you might consider this to contribute to feeling physically and emotionally drained (when your boy is literally running off brain cells).
OK – so that probably isn’t true, but it can sure feel that way. All I’m saying is check your diet – stay in tune with what you are consuming, and don’t skip meals even when you think you aren’t hungry.
FORM A ROUTINE TO ENDING YOUR DAY COMPLETELY
The moment we get home from work, we should be winding down and allowing our minds to turn off for sleep.
I know, even I’m laughing saying that, as probably many of you are – in [Ha!], my work is never finished. Whether that be coming home to tending to our kids, or our marital and household duties. Maybe there are those (like myself) who have the most difficult time shutting off my brain because I am already mentally preparing and stressing over tomorrow – along with the things that happened yesterday or 4 years ago on this day.
Thank you, anxiety!
We are told so, so, so often that the worst things we can do is watch TV or scroll through our phones right before bed (which I am still guilty of doing). At that rate we are probably better off doing housework! Instead, take a long shower and brushing your teeth, slip into your comfortable pajamas and read a book in bed before turning off the lights.
Discipline, my friends.
TAKE.MORE.BREAKS – PERIOD
Yes, yes, yes! Especially during work – we don’t utilize this enough. Even if that’s a quick lap around the office building, a bathroom or water break or taking that full lunch. Stop depriving yourself of intermittent stretching and exercising – your body will eventually thank you.
ASSESS YOUR RELATIONSHIPS IN AND OUTSIDE OF WORK
Oh yeah, I’m going there. I want to say I learned this the hard way with work-related friendships, but I don’t think I had it as difficult as others. Do we realize how much our interpersonal relationships in and out of work have an effect on our well being? If not, take a deep look at co-workers, work friends, and those outside relationships in your life.
Its easier than you think to find a pattern from those you invest your time who bring about added stress and hardship to your personal life. That one co-worker who is constantly negative about her job roles, talks about quitting daily or complains about the pay versus their sub-standard work ethics. Yet, you go to happy hour with this person every Friday night anyway.
There might be your answer – right under your nose. And it doesn’t have to be a co-worker or work friend – maybe a family member, neighbor, extended relative or landlord. Granted, you can’t get rid of your landlord but my point is to assess these relationships you have and start setting strict boundaries among them.
MINIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF TASKS PER DAY
If your To-Dos are an ever-growing list you can’t seem to ever complete – welcome to adulthood! No, but really, it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, we should always have daily tasks but if we are always setting ourselves up for incompletion then what’s the point?
Instead of having 10 items on your daily tasks to fulfill, set it to 3 or 4. Some days none, nada, zilch, or null because that’s OKAY. As long as you don’t allow this mindset to turn into laziness, then by all means.
BOAST YOUR SUCCESSES, AND STOP HIDING BEHIND YOUR FAILURES
No matter how big or small!
You know why it is so easy for Susie Q to talk about how she made it through her spinning class without stopping once on Facebook? Because she’s sincerely proud – proud enough to express it no matter who sees or agrees. So why are we so quick to think that no one on this earth will care that you successfully pulled off that advanced recipe you learned from scratch?
Believe me, there are people in this world that want to hear your successes more than think. Whether we know it or not, people can be inspirations to others based on the simple fact that you believe in yourself, regardless of your past failures.
That’s a mindset we should be showing off more often!
YOUR ATTITUDE – YOUR CHOICE – YOUR PATH TO HAPPINESS
I am a firm believer in that our attitude on life is a choice.
How we react and respond is a choice. Granted, most of what happens to us is not. So while I believe our attitude is a choice, I also believe we have the ability to change it. It’s not that its easy, by any means, but it starts with recognizing and taking accountability for our own behavior and triggers to a negative attitude.
Rule #1 of thumb when it comes to a negative attitude towards others is that we must stop comparing. Our anger, frustrations and envy of others’ accomplishments, fortunes and success is not magically going to bring us happiness, nor is that setting any example of kindness for yourself and others.
When we compare to others, it is a discrete way of expressing disappointment in ourselves. So start doing things in your own life that you can be proud of.
LOCATE THE SOURCE OF YOUR STRESS
While it might be all of the above, or only one single trigger that puts you in the cycle of burning yourself to a crisp. The most important part is recognizing the source of our stress before the boiling point (your burning point).
That isn’t to say the source could change over time, but we must be willing to actively listen to our needs and make our well being a consistent priority.