Burnout - what does it look like and how to recover from it.
I see so many people who feel drained, burned out and exhausted. Many of my clients feel as though they are on a constant wheel, just churning through their days rather than living.
Most people know that they feel stressed but they don't really realise that they are burning out until it’s too late and they can’t function anymore.
But how do you know that you’re burning out? What is the difference between burnout and stress?
Well, here are some of the signals which indicate you need to turn the heat down before you burn out.
Think of stress and burnout like a jar. Stressful circumstances gradually fill it up. People let you down, bills fly out of your bank account, colleagues turn up late, you haven't been sleeping. Whilst this is going on your stress hormones have been filling up your jar and your on high alert. Your nerves start to get stimulated and you feel yourself speeding up. By the time you get home, you’re feeling frazzled and your partner gets it in the neck for not making the bed.
Don’t get me wrong, irritability isn’t always a sign of burnout. We might get fed up with hearing about our friends 100th dating disaster, but if you’re getting to the stage where everyone is getting on your nerves and you repeatedly can’t tolerate people, or you’re getting increasingly angry and irritable over really insignificant things. If this is happening, you’re probably getting far too stressed. You might need to think about taking your foot off the accelerator, because you could be moving towards emotional burnout.
2. You've been feeling ‘on fire’ and then suddenly you feel nothing.
Being stressed over a long period of time can make us feel highly stimulated or ‘on fire’. Have you ever felt like your body is speeding up? Extra fidgety or like you’re mind is churning over and over. You may even start talking slightly faster than normal. This is your body responding to constant stress hormones filtering in and keeping you on high alert. As a result you might find yourself rushing around at a million mile an hour, trying to fit as many things into your day as possible. This goes on for a while and you can keep it up until suddenly start to feel detached.
Your partner hugs you and you feel nothing. Hours go by and all you have done is binge watch TV without even taking in the story line.
Your friend messages you and you have absolutely no desire to go out. All this time moving at hyper speed has a consequence and your body has to stop you somehow. And it does so by detaching you from the world.
3. You lose your confidence
Due to the fact that you are running out of fuel, you start to underperform. Tasks that you would normally do without thinking start to seem hard. It requires more effort for you to do things and you start making mistakes. You’re too tired to perform to the best of your ability. Other people, like your boss, may start to notice and pick you up on it. And so, you start to question yourself.
You think that you can’t do your job anymore and instead of focusing giving yourself a break, you thrash your brain even harder. You sit and try to think your way out of it. Should I change my job, location, friends? Why don’t I feel anything when she/he hugs me? What is that weird sensation in my body? Why am I tired all the time? What is wrong with me?
The end result.
Your mind becomes anxious with all of these endless thoughts which pumps adrenalin into your already exhausted body, you then become pre-occupied and start making mistakes or under performing. You then lose your confidence, which means more bad thoughts, which means more Adrenalin, which means more detachment from the world.
So what can you do about it?
The first step to dealing with anything is to notice it. If you can recognise that you’re burning out then that’s half the battle. Knowledge is power.
The second thing is to recognise that thinking your way through this wont work. Let those thoughts come in and tell you that your crap but don’t engage in them or give them power.
The next is to start forward planning and give yourself some space and time. If you have to get your shopping delivered so that you can come home earlier and have a soak in the bath, then do it.
Start becoming a bit more selfish for a couple of weeks, and start saying no to things if you think that you’re taking on too much.
Start being kind to yourself about your situation. We all suffer burnout at some point (except buddhist monks, they probably don’t). Burnout comes after a period of prolonged stress caused by financial problems, relationship break ups, illness etc. No one is immune, so don’t sit there worrying that you are abnormal if all of a sudden you can’t cope.
Choose to do one thing each day that nourishes you. Buy your favourite coffee, get your mum to make you dinner. Go for a drive with no planned destination.
All of these small things can, with time, build up to a more resistant you.
You can also use the recording below to help you to relax and help to beat burnout so that it doesn’t take over. Helping you to take control. Be calm and be more resilient.
Or give me a call to arrange a session on 07525051263.