What is burnout?

We hear a lot about burnout these days. What does that mean really? Burnout has been described by the national library of medicine as “a state of physical or mental exhaustion caused by professional life.” But does burnout mean that you hate your job or are tired of it? Not always. Burnout can manifest itself in many ways that we might not always associate with being burnt out. 

Some of the ways that burnout shows up include; 

  • Constant self- doubt
  • Feeling alone or isolated or detached
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • Having a negative outlook that increases over time
  • Procrastination
  • Working a full productive day, but coming home at night with no energy left to give to your life

Burnout can be caused by working too much, or in an unsupportive, or overdemanding workplace. But it can also be caused by how we think about the world and process through our emotions. Some traits common in people who experience burnout include; perfectionist tendencies, type A personality traits, a need for control, pessimism and lack of sleep.

So what can you do about it?

Work on getting better sleep. Keeping cool temperature in the room you sleep in, avoiding excess caffeine, and using meditation or breathing exercises in the evening are all helpful tools for better sleep.  

Socialize with people you love and care about, or with people who can relate to your situation. 

Get a mentor, or a coach. It can be very worth investing in someone who can help you find perspective about the way you organize and evaluate the way you think about your approach to your life. 

Meditate or find mindfulness – Yes, I know this one comes up a lot, but quieting the mind does take practice, and it can be extremely effective even in small doses. Maybe you don’t think you have time? Try adding meditative music to your playlist to remind you to breathe while listening to music in the car, or at the desk. Try adding 1-10 minutes of mindfulness upon waking, or even a good five-minute lunchtime meditation. 

Exercise – 30 minutes daily (this can include slow movement). Exercise helps with sleep, gut health, Stress management and overall energy.

Give up alcohol – alcohol steals energy from tomorrow. Chances are if you are a type A personality, you may lean on this one to bring down the hyperactivity in your brain. When you have a highly active alpha wave thinking pattern (common in high achievers) alcohol knocks down your brain activity a little bit with each drink. Non-alcoholic beers and wines are a great option if you are a social drinker. I also love to order a good mocktail or a soda water and lime with a cherry when ordering drinks while out. 

Eat nourishing foods. Eat foods full of color, nutrients, and flavor. This is pretty self-explanatory, but easily skipped.

If any of these pain points resonate with you, know that simply acknowledging the symptoms is a great first step. Start with one small change at a time, and be kind to yourself.