We’ve all heard about it and we all dread it. It’s like the blue screen of death but for humans and despite common misconceptions, has actually been around and studied for quite some time. Here I was thinking it was a relatively new phenomenon and that me burning out at 28 was almost unheard of! Boy was I wrong. Regardless of how long it’s been around; it doesn’t seem like we are any closer to finding the route cause or a solid fix. The guy who coined the term Dr. Herbert Freudenberger and some of his contemporaries came to the conclusion that burnout is caused by 6 elements:
“Workload, Control, Reward, Community, Fairness and Values, with burnout resulting when one or more of these elements do fit a worker’s needs.”
Thank you researchers and Dr. Freudenberger for all your hard work, but I respectfully disagree. All these reasons or causes seem to wrongly attribute burnout, solely to work as well as oversimplifying it.
I am living proof you can just be burned out on life. And that is very different from depression.
My burnout started at the tender age of 28 and peaked at 29. I was working 80-hour weeks at my job, volunteering and fostering dogs, and working on the weekends. My life had reached max capacity, and I was on overload to the point of system failure.
I didn’t recognize it at the time and therefore my methods of dealing with being pushed to my breaking point were less than healthy.
No, I went the opposite direction towards straight towards nuclear meltdown, because I couldn’t see what was happening and therefore couldn’t address it in a productive manner.
So, in order to know if you’re burning out or already burned out, take a step back and try to get a different perspective. Like a bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on. Are you sick of the day-to-day grind? And the various pieces just not working together? Do you have more days where you want to “hulk smash” than not? If you said yes to any of these then you are probably on the burnout highway, headed straight for implosion.
But fear not, I have some tips for you:
Treat Yo’ Self- I have no idea who coined that but it couldn’t be more true. Give yourself a break, get a mani/pedi, have a night out with the boys. Do something you love that you don’t let yourself do often enough.
Hit the gym- It doesn’t really matter what gym you hit, hell it could even just be going for a run but get that blood pumping. As Elle Woods says, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands (or in this case lead to a total mental breakdown)”.
Put on some music– and dance like no one is watching. In the spirit of Tom Cruise in Risky Business, just let it all hang out.
Cuddle with your pet– your SO, a pillow, whatever. Hugging releases more endorphins!
Push back! If you are getting overloaded with work or school or anything, know your limits and learn to say no! And if “no” just isn’t in your vocabulary, at least learn to ask for help.
Turn off your damn electronics. Recently, France passed a law that said employees didn’t have to respond to their jobs during off-hours. We may not have that law here but make that a law for yourself. Unless World War 3 will start solely because you didn’t answer an email, then make sure you have a cut-off point and make sure your job is aware of it. I was “on” 24/7/365 and to say that led to a raging dumpster fire is putting it mildly.
Don’t overload yourself– but if you can, add in activities that relax you or give you “me time”. If you have an hour a week to spare on a dance class and it doesn’t stress you out, then do it! Same for any activity. If it makes you happy, doesn’t occupy too much of your time, or makes you more stressed than you already might be, then consider throwing it in.
Get rid of any and all extraneous crap (activities, etc.) that gives you a headache, heart palpitations, or nervous ticks. YOU DON’T NEED THEM!
But more importantly that throwing in a few of these tips, know yourself. Get in tune with how you operate and what you need to do and feel your best. You won’t know what burnout looks or feels like if you don’t know what a happy and healthy you looks or feels like.