Burn out is more than just a phase or a bad mood. If you have been feeling indifferent, apathetic, stressed, anxious and unlike yourself for a while, take it seriously. Find ways to improve your current situation and establish a game plan to break the cycle. There is more to life than just going through the motions, settling and trying to convince yourself that you are happy when you aren’t.
If you are experiencing anxiety and are filled with dread pending a return to work, you may want to explore these feelings. It may seem simpler to suppress your feelings and disregard them as nothing more than a fleeting feeling but in some cases, it may be a sign of a deeper issue such as pending burn out. Speaking from personal experience, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to addressing the effects of burn out.
Personally, I reached burn out after nearly two years of working in a job which was emotionally draining, fast paced, erratic shifts and involved long commutes on public transport. While there were other factors which contributed to my burn out such as poor quality sleep, weekends filled with events, chores and activities, work was the key factor. I was actively looking for a different job for about 8 months and it was a struggle to continue going to work. I was getting sick constantly, my immune system was down and I was a shadow of myself living in a prolonged state of apathy. Once I had been offered a new job, I took a month off between to recharge. During this time, I gained weight unexpectedly and that led me to a Naturopath and I am now exploring ways to improve my physical health. I am an active person so the weight gain threw me. Unfortunately, it was a side effect of reaching burn out.
On a positive note, my sleep quality has improved, I have regained my motivation and desire to not only set goals but to focus on achieving them and I feel like myself again. I still consider myself to be on the road to recovery and I have learnt the hard way how challenging it is to bounce back from burn out. It takes a toll on you mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It has an impact on your ability to function, to be present, to be grateful and to look to the future and be excited. It’s similar to a black hole which will keep pulling you in unless you acknowledge what you are feeling and that it is more than just exhaustion or the daily grind. Remember, you deserve to live a life that uplifts you, challenges you in a positive manner and encourages you to keep growing and learning. You do not deserve to be stuck in a place which causes you to forget how special you are, to make you feel apathetic, stressed, anxious and emotionally spent. If you do feel that way, talk to someone and look at ways as to how you can make a change moving forward.
If your job is the cause of your burn out, you may not be in a financial position to quit on the spot. If you want to leave the organization, look for another role first and in the meantime, see if you can find a way to see the positive in your current role. You could focus on an aspect of the job which you enjoy or you could ask your manager if you could go part time, learn a different role, work from home or do some training. Get creative and try to find the positive in a negative situation. It may seem challenging to do but if you can change your mindset even if it’s temporarily, you can begin to reduce your stress and anxiety. Alternatively, you could look at taking leave if you the ability to do so.
Another option is to find ways to improve your life outside of work. Try to do one thing each day which will bring you a feeling of joy. It could be something such as having a bath, exercising, taking your dog for a walk, spending time with loved ones, watching your favourite movie or tv show, spending time to work on a hobby, listening to music or reading a book. If you have difficulty quietening your racing mind, consider journaling, practicing yoga, going for a walk or to the beach, meditating or focusing on your breath. You can even try these exercises during your work day on a break.
Food plays a major role in our lives. It has an impact on how we feel so if you are stressed, you may want to reduce your caffeine intake by switching to decaf drinks, drinking herbal teas and keeping hydrated. This will help eliminate the brain fog and make reduce your stress levels. If you eat a lot of processed foods, see if you can switch one meal to more wholesome foods and monitor how the change makes you feel. Little things help.
Living in a prolonged state of burn out and mental exhaustion is not the norm. Don’t settle for this state of mind. With some proactive strategies and addressing the symptoms, you can begin to feel like yourself again. You deserve to feel your best, not just going through the motions. Live, don’t just exist.
Main Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash