Editor’s Note: Life can be overwhelming at times. This we know for sure. We’re sharing this post, originally published in May 2020, to help you recognize the times when you’re burned out and take steps to get to the other side.
You have to text Rachel today., I tell myself. It takes, oh I don’t know, maybe fifteen seconds to send the text; it’s some fingerprints on my phone that are most likely already on my hand. But I can not. The simplest tasks can paralyze me.
There’s an email, well, a dozen emails, that I need to respond to, an article that I’m five weeks behind on, jobs that I’ve put off because I can’t send a simple message. However, I am by no means lazy; I have tried to excel since I spent recess time inside helping my teachers. Why play when I could grade the spelling tests, why sit still and clear my mind when I could listen to the latest episode of The newspaper, Why fall asleep watching a meaningless movie when I have loads of the new yorker Magazines stacked next to my bed? It has been repeatedly imposed and reinforced on me and my millennial cohorts that every moment must propel us forward, making us smarter/fitter/richer or making the world in general kinder or cleaner.
Before All this It just so happened that he had over ten years of working morning, afternoon and night jobs, many of which doubled as weekend jobs, as well as being a trusted friend and a good person and a voting, contributing, informed member of the society. Ten years of responding to “How are you?” with “busy” or “tired”. I’ve spent most of this pandemic sleeping, and much of me is relieved and grateful for the forced downtime so I can catch up on decades of sleep deprivation.
My state of mind depends on how efficiently and successfully I can check off tasks on my to-do list, however, some to-dos never get checked off because the burden of doing everything, all the time, has paralyzed me.
Some days I can do the big things, but not the little ones. Some days the little things make me think I can do the big things, and then I crash. My state of mind depends on how efficiently and successfully I can check off tasks on my to-do list, however, some to-dos never get checked off because the burden of doing everything, all the time, has paralyzed me. Many of us live, and have lived for years, without clear demarcations of when we are on and off the clock. And we are burned.
Burnout is a torturous elixir of burnout and chronic stress that doesn’t exactly benefit anyone. So, for the sake of our health and happiness, let’s start by recognizing burnout and fighting it early.
5 signs you’re exhausted
1. You are tired. Very very tired.
Being exhausted takes exhaustion to a new level. Think of a fuzzy brain, a general lack of motivation, and being easily irritated. Do you have trouble concentrating? Do you feel frustrated, more than usual? How hard is it to get out of bed in the morning? Your body knows everything; you just have to listen to it.
2. Your relationships are suffering.
When experiencing burnout, some people may take advantage of their discomfort by lashing out at those around them. (Often it is the least deserving who gets the worst of it.) Others may withdraw or go offline. Pay attention to how you handle your relationships while experiencing burnout.
3. Your work performance is declining.
Feeling dissatisfied, stuck, upset, unambitious, therefore, that is exhaustion. However, before you quit your job, see if there is anything you can do or someone you can talk to to make things better. There’s a difference between temporary boredom and long-term burnout.
4. You are experiencing chronic health problems.
When ignored for a long period of time, chronic stress can be directly correlated to serious health problems, such as heart disease, digestive problems, and depression. It’s never worth it.
5. You are not taking care of yourself.
Too much alcohol at night, too much coffee in the morning, and not enough sleep in between is one way to deal with burnout, but a terrible way to deal with burnout. Watch your vices and how you use them when you feel stressed. For me, it’s siesta excessively; That’s my favorite dodge technique. For you, it could be chain smoking or becoming sedentary.
5 steps to recover from burnout
1. Designate time to relax.
One perk of pandemic life is that we all remember relaxing hobbies we haven’t had time for, whether it’s yoga, reading, puzzles, going for a walk, or attending virtual happy hours. It is important to have a corner of your life that is not related to work and spend time in it for no other reason than to make yourself happy.
Turn off your phone and go for a walk. Spend an afternoon in the woods digging ramps. Banish the phones to another room during dinner. While our little handheld robots feel necessary to modern life, turning them off sets boundaries and speeds up your thought processes since you’re not being bombarded by this text or email or other news notification.
3. Get enough sleep.
Sleep is the panacea for almost everything. It is necessary for memory, productivity and general mental function. Recovering from burnout requires you to replenish the resources you have to deal with stress, and sleep is #1.
4. Pay attention to your body.
all and each one body react differently to chronic stress. My TMJ flares up when I’m particularly stressed and I’d lie in bed all day if I was allowed. Some may experience headaches or shoulder tension. Maybe you have digestion problems or suffer from anxiety attacks. It’s important to tune in to the physical signals your body is giving you.
5. Understand when it’s your problem and when it’s theirs.
Think about it: Is your burnout driven by internal factors, such as social pressures, or external factors, such as more demands and fewer resources at work? Understand what’s stressing you out and who you need to address it with, whether it’s you or a boss.
Megan is a writer, editor, etc-er who reflects on life, design, and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker, and more. Her rules of life include, but are not limited to: zipper when merging, tipping cash, and contributing to her IRA. Be a friend to her and sign up for her Night Vision newsletter or follow her on Instagram.