Don’t burnout. Catching Fire might be a good thing if you are a teenage girl who is the face of the revolution against the capital. It’s not a great thing if you are trying to find balance in your business and for your life.
Burnout is real. It can cause mental, physical, and financial problems. Burnout can burn bridges, burn down foundations, and just burn. It doesn’t end well for you and often doesn’t end well for anyone around you.
If you are going to keep going and reach your desired success, you will have to find your way to avoid burnout.
What are the causes of burnout?
Burnout happens when fuel ignites – it’s no more complicated than that. The complications arise when you try to determine what is or is not fuel.
Fuel will be different for different people and different fuels will be combustible at different times and seasons in our lives. Dead limbs are more combustible during a drought. There are seasons and situations in your life when burnout can happen faster and more explosive than at other times.
You have to know what ignites your burnout moments.
You signed on to do a job, but at the very bottom of the job description were the words “and anything else the job requires.” The problem is that slowly but surely the “anything else” has become bigger. It requires more of you to do the job. The more it requires of you the less you have leftover at the end of the day. If work has creeped out into your burnout zone, it’s time to have a talk with your manager or supervisor. Don’t wait until you flame up.
Whether you are working as an entrepreneur or part of a company, these trying times have meant working alone (or at least working from home which isn’t always alone – but that’s a horse of a different color and we did a whole webinar about working from home. Check it out). We are designed to be in relationships – yes, even the introverts. We are better when we are engaged with others. If you remain alone and disengaged from others, you can become worn out. Being worn out is a hop, skip, and jump away from burnout.
Repetition without results.
They say the sure sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results from those same actions. Another, closely related situation, is doing the same thing over and over without getting the results you need or want. You are doing what you think needs to be done (or what you’ve signed on to do), but nothing is working out the way you expected. If you continue the repetition without results then you are subject to experiencing burnout.
You have to work, but when you are working too much without the opportunity to relax, focus on home and health, and detach from the needs of the job, you begin to exhaust your energy reserves. A lack of energy will actually fuel burnout syndrome.
The more negatives you have around you the harder it becomes being positive. Positive energy fights off burnout. A toxic work environment where people are openly hostile or a co-worker that constantly complains about EVERYTHING is equally capable of sucking the positive vibes from the workspace, leaving burnout to fill in the void.
There are as many causes of burnout as there are people – because we are all unique and on unique journeys. Although these are some of the most often causes, learn to watch out for the symptoms as well to protect against a burnout outbreak.
Do you smell smoke?
It may be the end of your rope burning up, and that’s not a good thing. Don’t wait for the smell of smoke to wake you up to burnout.
When you begin to feel exhausted, feel less capable of working (or less interested in working), and you are starting to hate . . . well, just about everything then you are probably suffering from burnout.
Burnout occurs when you are overworked, overstretched, or overwhelmed – sometimes a combination of all three.
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While burnout is not a medical term, there are several “symptoms” that are often associated with burnout.
- Too tired – chronic fatigue is when you have a lack of energy or feel constantly tired. You are drained – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
- Can’t sleep – insomnia is when you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep several nights a week (which leads to being too tired).
- Foggy head – when you can’t focus or stumble around forgetfulness.
- Can’t eat – because you don’t feel hungry or you’re too busy to slow down so you don’t think about eating.
- Worry – anxiety about what you haven’t done, what you are currently doing, and what you have to still get done will lead to tension, worry, and edginess.
- Short fuse – anger from the tension, irritability, lack of sleep, and/or lack of food can lead to outbursts and arguments.’
- Whining and complaining – or just being a negative Nellie. Pessimism shows up as negative talk (about you, about others, about situations) which will lead to negative actions.
- Nothing gets done – a lack of productivity or a fall in performance standards results in incomplete projects or a growing to-do list.
When these symptoms begin to show up, take immediate action. Burnout doesn’t go away on its own. You have to actively treat the symptoms to find your cure.
Cooling Down to Avoid Burning Out
If you feel things heating up, look for ways to cool them down. You have to make the choices to keep a demanding job or endeavor not to undermine your health and wellbeing.
1. Phone a Friend
Don’t try to go it alone. When the going gets too tough, call for help. If the job load gets too much, reach out to a supervisor (and try to do it before the deadlines to be fair to all involved). If you are in a solo venture, reach out to a mentor or other support advocate.
2. Take a Break
You need to rest and refresh. Take a break on the weekends (and don’t do any work at all). Take a prolonged break in the form of a vacation (and unplug while you are away). Take regular breaks to give your mind and body time to recharge.
3. Bust a Move
Do a little dance. Take a little walk. Get your yoga on. Do something to stretch your body and relax your mind. We live in a stationary world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get up and move it (you, not necessarily the world).
4. Find Your Zone
Create a space where you can be calm for a moment. If you are working from home, a walk in the park could be the answer. A day at the spa could be what the doctor ordered. Just a nice glass of wine by the fire may be your in zone. Find something that gives you a little calming time and then make time to take it.
5. Pull the Emergency Cord
If the going has gotten to be too much, plan an escape route. If you aren’t enjoying your journey, it could be time for you to change rides. Begin putting out feelers for a new job, a different field of work, or maybe even to launch your own business. Just make sure you are creating a solid plan for shifting and not just jumping from one burnout frying pay to another.
Burnout may not be a medically diagnosed issue at the moment, but that doesn’t make it any less real. People suffer from burnout when they are doing too much with too little for too little. The scales are all out of whack, and something is going to blow.
Instead of being a victim of burnout (or from burnout), know the signs and have a way to cool things off before they get out of hand.
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