… WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND HOW TO AVOID IT!
You love your family, they are why you do what you do, and you enjoy your work, it fuels and energises you. Me too.
Despite your passion for both, there are times when life demands more time and energy than you have. And if you’re not careful you may be heading for burnout.
Burnout is more than having an exhausting day, it’s a deep tiredness that affects your perception, interest and engagement in life.
It doesn’t only come from challenges in life, it can come from success too. Burnout can be caused by overwhelming demands and responsibilities that keeps us in a state of stress for extended periods of time, longer than we were designed to.
If stress isn’t managed early it can lead to burnout. And burnout leads to serious health problems, physically, mentally and spirituality.
This kind of chronic stress alters the structure of the brain and has long term effects on your memory, creativity and attention.
Dr Sherrie Bourge Carter shares that burnout is insidious. It doesn’t happen suddenly. You don’t wake up one day and suddenly have burnout. It creeps up on you over time, like a slow leak.
People burnout because they overdo it and are under stress for so long their body takes over in defense, it’s not because they are weak.
These are some work related behaviours that might put you at risk :
- Frequently working overtime, to the point it becomes a habit
- Working on holidays, that includes catching up on emails
- Checking in with work (email) on the weekends, in the evenings and when you first get out of bed
- Taking on more responsibilities when you’re already at capacity
- Cutting into your sleep time to get caught up
5 Signs of Burnout
Here are some signs that you might be heading for burnout :
Feeling like you’re totally worn out, tired all the time but unable to get proper rest or sleep, have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or sleep a lot more.
Lack of Motivation
Feelings of stagnation, or detachment from people and things you care about, a lack of interest in social activities. If you find your schedule is running you, maybe it’s time for a change.
Find yourself with a short fuse, easily frustrated or angry, maybe you have a general apathy towards work and life, are more pessimistic, less happy and satisfied than usual.
Decline in Health
Lingering colds and headaches and the cause difficult to identify. Not eating well, exercising or taking the time to care for your body and mind.
Loss of Focus
Lack of ability to concentrate, pay attention or having trouble remembering things.
As someone who is driven I need to check in with myself regularly. I’ve been known to start too many projects, burn the candle at both ends and find it difficult to rest.
When our son was born we were plunged in the deep end learning about allergies and eczema. When a baby comes you can expect life to change. This was change on a whole other level. And there was so much to learn.
Life’s demands were constant.
I remember taking a breath when he turned four, literally. It was like I had been holding my breath everyday since he was born. I also realised that I had lost who I was in amongst the cares of everyday life.
Even though my husband is a very hands on Dad, I realised I didn’t dream, plan or create like I use to. I was flat, exhausted and in need of a change.
The change I needed was how I took care of myself. I’d spent so much time caring for our son, family and working that I didn’t take enough time for me.
Thankfully those days are long past. And while I can still start more projects than I should, a common creative trait I think ;), I’ve learnt to rest and enjoy life a lot more often.
After all, life’s a marathon, not a sprint! Even though at times it feels like everything needs to be done now, it isn’t true.
Over the years I’ve come to know myself better, put my drive into a lower gear and count my blessings. My husband and son have taught me a lot about how important fun time is and being in the moment.
Daily journalling has helped me become more mindful, to be more closely in tune with what’s happening in my world.
What can you do to avoid burnout?
There are a range of simple things you can do to avoid burnout. They are easy to do, and they are also easy not to do. And that’s what makes them so powerful.
It’s the small choices we make that add up to the life we live.
Taking a few minutes to journal each day can help you become more mindful and self ware. These important skills can help you avoid burnout by allowing you to make adjustments to your behaviour early.
If you discover you are heading for burnout, journalling can help you discover what the cause is and why. This kind of insight helps to know what changes you can make to create a healthy life.
Start by listening to those closest to you. Are they complaining they never see you anymore, that you miss important events, seem distant, not as much fun to be around or that you’re working all the time?
Rather than reacting or get defensive, take a step back and really listen to what they’re saying. Even if you’re not close to burnout, it’s probably a good time to talk about expectations, and to check that your behaviours are allowing you to live a healthy life.
You don’t need to do everything. It may be time to outsource some work and share the load more at home. Work smarter not harder. Do less hours, but make them more productive.
Say no more often
And remember, no is a complete sentence. Not comfortable saying no? That’s ok. It’s like any muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. A gentle way of saying no is to thank them for thinking of you and graciously decline the offer.
Take time to rest
Taking time off for holidays and weekends are a great starting point.
Make time in your schedule for regular exercise and relaxation. Read a book, watch a favourite show or movie (not while you’re doing something else, sorry that doesn’t count).
Daily journalling is a great way to check in with yourself. Write about what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
Foster relationships with others who inspire you and are a positive influence.
Start something new
Cultivate an interest outside of managing your business and taking care of your family. Do something that’s relaxing and energises you like dancing, colouring in, gardening etc.
Do things differently
Shake things up and refresh your routine. If you find that you stay inside at lunch time, go for a walk. Find yourself in front of technology often, play some card and board games. Drive a different way to work.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves. Insufficient sleep is hazardous to your health. It affects your focus, mood and memory. Getting plenty of quality sleep is essential for productivity and our ability to solve problems.
Take care of you
Exercise makes you feel good, so add some into your everyday. It’s worth repeating, get plenty of sleep and rest. Give your body the fuel it needs. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy. Get plenty of good fats, fruit and veges, meats, stocks, fermented veges, eggs, nuts, seeds and such. You know, stuff that’s great nutritional value and is as close to nature as possible.
Find your balance
And no I don’t mean work life balance. I actually think that way of thinking is a distraction and can lead to burnout. You can read more about why you don’t want work life balance and what to do instead here.
True balance is found by integrating, or fusing the different parts of your life together into one of meaning and passion. It’s doing the things that fuel us, that help us become who we want to be and create the kind of life we want to live, a sustainable, enjoyable way of living.
Burnout doesn’t just suddenly appear, and it takes time to undo it’s effects.
Whether you are close or just starting to show some signs, you can make the simple choices to create a better life. Be patient with yourself and take consistent action toward creating a happier, healthier you.
For help using your time more intentionally and feel a greater sense of control in your day, grab your copy of the FUSElife Planner Playbook.