That ‘burned out’ feeling is something that a lot of us have been through in our lives by the time we hit our adulthood, and it’s caused by so many different factors that trying to name them all is nearly impossible. But the result is about the same, we feel as though we have no control, no recourse, and no chance to do everything that we need to do and want to do. One feels as though they’ve stepped into a mire that continues to sink no matter how many lines are being tossed to pull us back out.
Some folks don’t get this feeling, since they either back off at the first sign of trouble and do something to stop it, or they have a safety net that’s continually located beneath them and won’t allow them to fall. But then there are those of us that are bound to fall no matter if we have the option of a safety net or not, and it’s because we’re so incredibly stubborn that we feel certain that we can power our way out of the muck that we find ourselves in to push forward and make the statement that we’re damned tough and we’re not going to bend, break, or give up in any way. That’s tough to do, but it’s possible.
The point in all this is that there are a number of ways to push through that burned-out feeling, and while a few of them might not be the best for everyone, there are ways that those of different temperaments will find are best for them. So get your feet moving and we’ll get out of that mire you’ve found yourself in, or we’ll at least give you the chance to avoid such pitfalls in the future.
How it starts
Well, that’s not always so easy to tell, is it? Taking on one job and one responsibility after another in life isn’t always something we pay attention to since like it or not, being an adult does come with a lot of responsibility unless you’re blessed or spoiled, there are often far too many of the latter and not enough of the former. But there are a few ways to recognize when you’re taking on too much in your life.
- Not paying attention: We all get busy, that much is obvious. But one has to pay attention to what they’re taking on and weigh each responsibility against the next. How much time will it take? How important is it? Can it be put off for at least a short amount of time? These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked when thinking about the time you spend on each responsibility and how important they are in your life. Don’t take on so much if you can’t handle it, or if you’ve already got a full load and need time to finish and then to recuperate.
- Lack of time management: Yes, I did mention something that has to do with this in the first point, but the importance of time management can’t be touched upon enough since the reality of it is that no matter how quick a person is at their job, they still need to be aware of how long a job is supposed to take and measure that against other factors that requrie their attention. In other words, don’t take on so many jobs that you can’t complete them in time.
- Setting unrealistic deadlines: I’ve done this, you’ve likely done this, and a lot of people have done this. They’ve said ‘sure, I can do that’ to people who need projects done and are depending on them to be done within a certain time frame. The only problem is that the person knows they can’t get this done in that amount of time either because they have other responsibilities to take care of and will have to make sacrifices somewhere. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t favor the individual doing the work.
It’s very easy to ignore these signs, but when the physical signs of burnout begin, it’s much harder to ignore.
The physical signs that you’re burning out aren’t pretty.
I don’t know about any of you readers, but I’ve experienced burnout more than once, and it’s usually been my own fault for not recognizing the signs that have become rather familiar at this point. Some of us willingly suffer this condition because we’re trying to help others and do the best we can to earn a reputation. But earning this at the cost of your health isn’t always worth it. Here are just a few ways that people might recognize the effects of burnout when it occurs.
- Lack of sleep: There are a lot of things that the body can’t go without, and sleep is one of the more important, since the stories of people staying up for days at a time in college, business, and elsewhere aren’t false, but they’re not something to be proud of either. The less you sleep, the less time your body has to repair anything that might need it, or to relax and allow your overworked muscles to recuperate. More than anything, the brain needs down time since if this doesn’t happen then thinking straight becomes harder and harder with each passing hour that you refuse to let your gray matter relax. At some point your brain will tell you to go to sleep, and you’ll listen without even thinking about it. Hopefully you’re near a bed when that happens.
- Mood swings: There are a lot of moments when mood swings can happen for various reasons, but without rest or sleep, or without relaxation of some sort, you’re bound to find that things that never used to bother you are going to irritate the hell out of you and possibly lead you to snap at people in ways that you’re not used to. Believe it or not, burnout can come with a serious case of alligator snaps since you’re bound to be mean, nasty, and ready to snap at anyone that so much as whistles the wrong tune.
- Emotional dissonance: Look at it this way, the further you go, the harder you push yourself, and the less sleep you get in between projects, the less you’re going to think that you’re accomplishing. I’ve been there, thinking that I’m not doing enough for my bosses, that I’m failing them somehow, and that I’d be lucky if they keep me on after I snap at them without meaning to. A good boss will recognize burnout when it happens, while others will take your outbursts personally and send you on down the road. But the fact is, this is your responsibility and your problem, since the truth is that, well, it is.
Recognizing the problem is the first step, dealing with it is, unfortunately, the hardest part since it requires more than just recognition, it requires diligence and discipline as well.
How to minimize/avoid burnout.
It’s not always possible to avoid burnout at work or in life in general since it’s bound to happen when we take on so many different responsibilities. But there are ways to at least help to minimize the effects, though it does take a concentrated effort on the part of the individual that’s been affected. Just remember that it’s your issue, no one else’s. But be grateful to those that are understanding and will work with you.
- Get plenty of rest: This isn’t alway as possible as we would like, but you’ll have to work at it in order to make this work since like it or not, you need it. Even if it’s just a regular 6-8 hours a night, if you can get it, take that time to rest and relax. And if you do have time between responsibilities, make sure you take that time to kick back and do something fun that can help you to calm down a bit.
- Seek help when possible: You don’t have to take on the world by yourself, especially when it comes to work. Even if you don’t have someone close at hand, work with others to maximize your output while doing what you can to minimize your stress. It’s a little tough at first to come upon a manner by which to make this happen, but it’s entirely possible.
- Take time to just sit and center yourself: I know, it sounds like some bargain basement advice on how to gather your chi and all that jazz. Nope, not even close. Just take a moment, lean against the wall, get up and walk around, just time to breathe is what you need. Gather yourself if you need to, breathe easier, take a walk around the office if you feel the need. But get away from your work for a matter of minutes, it can do wonders.
I’m not an expert when it comes to avoiding burnout, but I’ve been burned enough times that I know how to recognize it. My advice is this: don’t make a habit of it.
We want all of you Radassers out there to be safe and secure in your work and your life, and talking to you about burnout is a realistic way to do it. Take the time to breathe and get away from work every now and then y’all, work to live, don’t live to work.