The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with you, except for a little high blood pressure and fatigue. But you know there’s something seriously off. You’re not yourself. You drag yourself out of bed. As you walk around the house, you mutter “I’m just so tired,” but you can’t figure out why. Could it be you’re suffering from burnout?
Are you uncharacteristically short-tempered? Has your positive attitude been replaced with critical comments? Do you exercise less? Drink more? Have you lost touch with friends? What should take minutes now takes hours. Sounds more and more like burnout!
No, it’s not all in your head. Less than a week ago, the World Health Organization posted their 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, listing burnout as an occupational phenomenon. They state that:
“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.”
Burnout syndrome contributes to heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and premature aging. This is not something you want to ignore and hope goes away!
Some professions, (e.g. medical, legal, teaching, social work, entrepreneurship), are more prone to causing burnout, because they demand all you have to give and then more! You could be fulfilling responsibilities that are clearly out of the bounds of your job description, without being compensated for them. You may be working in an unsupportive or toxic environment. Perhaps you’re asked to compromise personal values and beliefs. On top of that, you may have unrealistic expectations of yourself.
Did you notice WHO said burnout results from “stress that has not been successfully managed”? That should give you hope, because you can learn to manage stress and start recovering from burnout, with a few adjustments to your life. Right now, you may feel like you can’t do one more thing! But, please, take steps to get your life back in balance.
How do you start the process of recovering from burnout? It all begins with a practice of mindfulness to check in with yourself throughout the day. Here are some other suggestions:
- Learn stress management skills. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, reconnecting with nature, and utilizing the power of gratitude are all helpful.
- Tune into body sensations. Focus on your body’s response to movement. For example, stretching releases tightness and tension.
- Talk to someone. Find a good listener who isn’t going to try to “fix” you or judge you.
- Rekindle friendships. Phone someone and schedule a lunch date, or better yet, go for a walk with your friend and get some exercise, too.
- Limit contact with negative people. Your may have to work with them, but you don’t have to eat lunch or hang out after work with them.
- Learn to speak Positivity.
- Reframe the way you view work. Focus on how you help others.
- Set boundaries that support your values. Learn to say “no!” and rediscover your happy place.
- Develop curiosity about emotional distress. Think of it as a learning tool.
- Take time off and get away. Ovid wisely said ~ “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
- Stop the tech addiction. The world isn’t going to end because you completely disconnect from your devices at the end of each day!
- Feed your creative side and find a hobby.
- Get restorative sleep.
- Make exercise a priority. Aim to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes/day. Mix it up with activities you like.
- Eat healthfully. Just cut out one harmful item and add one healthful item at a time. It makes a difference.
- Avoid narcotics, nicotine and alcohol. Stimulants and depressants alter your brain chemistry. The temporary euphoria isn’t worth the negative effects.
- Find a better job. It took courage, but I have never regretted shifting my practice to coaching women!
- Work smarter. Hone your time management and organizational skills.
Jonathan Lockwood Huie reminds us, “Say NO to the demands of the world. Say YES to the longings of your own heart.” Are you ready to make that shift? Does recovering from burnout feel too overwhelming — you don’t know where to start? I’d love to help you create a plan that gets you to where you want to be. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).