See, I’m great at recognizing burnout, once I’m there. Well, I should be, I’ve come close often enough!
Practice? I’ve had some. Prevention? Not so much.
To be honest, I’ve almost majorly burnt out twice in my life and come close countless other times.
But I never notice these things until my hair is falling out, and I’m a clenched up, static-y ball of anxiety. Or, thankfully, my husband gently points out that perhaps I should be taking better care of myself. He says sometimes its like my head is barely above water, that he can see that I’m so overwhelmed that I’m unable to find my way out. He’s so perceptive, goodness knows, I often don’t always have the words to recognize it, let alone describe it.
Thankfully, this weekend, I’ve been able to identify that I’m wildly careening towards burnout as I live a life out of balance, full of stress, obligation, goals, way too many activities and not enough fun. This one is different, a career I love, family and husband that I find satisfying. A wonderful life. I have no reason to be anxious and stressed. And yet I am.
Burnout looks different to everyone. For me, it’s a giant ball of anxiety, and really poor sleep due to excessive worrying and thinking. Ican’t switch off. I stop taking care of myself, stop seeking pleasure and joy. If I don’t recognizie it soon enough, chronic headaches, and other illnesses begin to force me to slow down. My hair starts to thin (luckily I have three times more than the average person!). I become a hermit, avoiding friends, but frighteningly even my dear husband and children- I retreat into social media and other isolated things. Lots of routine jobs start to slip- I become distracted and my performance drops. Simple things overwhelm me.
I’m there, I can see it on the horizon. I can see if I don’t make changes, its going to creep up on me. My dear husband hasn’t needed to point it out to me, I feel it.
Thank heavens I’m self-aware and highly motivated. I’ve got this! I know that I need to make changes, and I’m strong enough to do it. I’ve already begun- compiling my low rent list, getting rid of a couple of obligations that are really draining me. I need to improve the quality of my sleep, build a relaxation practice. I’m going back to basics- my monthly and daily planning, saying no, looking after myself. Drinking more water, making good food choices. Maybe gentle exercise like yoga.
And look- everyone says it. I’m trying to be Superwoman. I’m doing too much. Time for that to stop. Time for a new journey.
If you only do 3 things:
1. Check in with yourself– Do you know your body’s signals for when you are approaching burn-out? When have you been overwhelmed and on your way to burning-out? What measures are you taking to make sure you don’t burn-out? Do you have a regular relaxation practice? Do you switch off? How are you taking care of yourself?
2. Want to read more? Here’s a few good articles about overwhelm and burnout
3. If you aren’t getting better or don’t have support maybe you need to talk to a professional? This could be the best decision you make. You don’t need to feel like this