By a raise of hands, who is über busy these days? (if you actually raised your hand while reading this…then you for sure need this blog.)
Most of us have a compulsion. Our society has created a need to be busy to show our worth. Beliefs course through us like:
- If you aren’t busy, then you’re lazy.
- If you aren’t busy, then you must be struggling to make it.
- If you aren’t busy, then you are not working hard enough to get ahead.
- If you aren’t busy, then you aren’t valuable.
- If you aren’t busy, then you aren’t trying hard enough to please everyone around you.
Where in the world do these beliefs come from? And, more importantly, how are they stifling your soul?
From the outside, we look at others who have a nice balance to their lives and wonder what their secret sauce is. How did they get there. They seem happy.
Burn out is the real deal. I see it again and again with my clients (and I have totally been there myself). Don’t ignore the warning signs that your body gives you. That’s right, those headaches or heart palpitations or stomach issues are probably not just a fluke. They’re likely happening more regularly than you think they are. When I was at my peak of burn out I was having heart palpitations and chronic sore throats. My mind went to the worst case scenario. I went to my MD and he did EKG tests and a blood panel. All came back normal. I was perplexed because my symptoms were very real. I then went to see a naturopathic doctor and he told me I was stressed. I was in disbelief. I didn’t feel stressed. In fact, I felt I should be doing even more! After making a few major tweaks in my lifestyle, BAM…my symptoms were gone completely.
When you push yourself to the max and then beyond, your internal signals to slow down become louder and louder. Like blowing up a balloon, it gets bigger and bigger. Until it pops.
That pop can look different for everyone. For some, it means depression. Others get even more severe physical problems internally or externally. Not to mention the whole spectrum in between.
Burn out affects every area of your life.
How many of these burn out symptoms apply to you?
- You are exhausted to the extreme by the time the day is over (and sometimes before as you slog through to try to make it to the end).
- Your temper with others is on a super short fuse and you lash out knowing that it’s irrational behavior but you aren’t able to stop it.
- You feel like you can’t make anyone happy. Even though you are trying so hard.
- You can’t even remember what it feels like to be happy.
- Your to do list is so long that you can’t possibly get it all done as one person.
- Yet you keep adding more to it willingly.
- You have over 250 active emails waiting to be read in your inbox. You know who you are.
- You have regrets. Deep regrets that you can’t spend more time with your family. Your spouse. Your significant other. Your kids. Your friends. Your dog. Yourself.
- Your body is desperately trying to tell you to slow down, constantly getting sick or injured.
- Need I go on?
Beating burn out isn’t complicated. But it isn’t easy either. You get addicted to being busy, to being needed and wanted. It’s a form of affirmation that you thrive on to feel successful and secure. Yet, actually being that busy rots you from the inside out and messes with your emotions making you feel anything but successful or secure.
So, how can you go about beating burn out to find peace when life gets crazy?
- Admit it. Tell your boss. Tell your husband. Tell a friend. Admit that you’ve hit your max. This is NOT a sign of weakness but rather of strength to truly ask for what you want and need and state what you are experiencing.
- Start to set some boundaries. Realistically, how much can you actually take on? This is hard because our minds think we can keep taking on more, but your body is also talking. Pay attention and be honest.
- Learn breathing techniques to calm your system. There are so many ways to start a self care practice. Breathing and meditation are my personal favorites. Try alternate nostril breathing, a series of deepening your breathe or meditation. Rod Stryker’s Meditations for Life is a great one to start with. If you need something to make you laugh (and you don’t mind adult language in the least), then Honest Meditation is a hilarious modern twist on meditation for skeptics.
- Figure out your priorities. What is actually most important to you in your life? Your job? Your family? Personal time? Set your priorities in the right order and begin to take action on creating that heirarchy in your schedule slowly over time.
- Build in breaks throughout your day to stop and get away. My husband had to teach me this one. I used to work straight through the day and night, only stopping to climb or do yoga a few nights a week. He had to help me break away from my computer and set realistic hours for my work time. I was amazed when my work became not only more impactful but also deeper because I had more energy to give it by stepping away and letting my brain reset.
- Ask for help. Again, this is NOT a weakness! Asking for help can be the greatest thing you ever do for yourself. No one outside of you knows your limits unless you communicate them. We’re all living in our little bubbles and sometimes we have to stop and admit when we need help to support us or to get things done. Where do you need help?
- Learn to respond, not to react. When we hit burn out, we often react quickly. This means messing up at work, being short with our kids, snapping at our significant others, being rude to people at the store and just generally showing off our not so great side. Using the technique of your choosing, you can learn to put in a stop gap between when you are triggered and when you respond. I use breathing for this. You may have another way that you like. But doing this helps to ground you and allow you to take it as just a moment – not a dramatic nightmare.
- Be okay with enough. For those of us that are perfectionists or need control (raises own hand), this one is the hardest. When you truly prioritize yourself and what you want, you make it okay to walk away from other things because what you have in enough. There is more time to create the success you want. Thriving in burnout isn’t getting you there any faster. Be okay with what enough is for now.
- Reward yourself. When you take action and follow through on living for you, reward yourself. Too often we plow through our lists (and our lives!) without really stopping to acknowledge all that we have done. Part of beating burn out is rewarding yourself, too.
- Learn from it. My first bout with burn out brought lessons. I learned from them, but didn’t implement them when I felt my second bout coming on. Cue the lessons all over again. Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistake. Learn your lesson. Learn what your body needs. Then put measures in place to ensure you do right by yourself moving forward – without apologies.
Sometimes burnout means making hard life transitions. Taking scary steps. Doing things you aren’t sure you are capable of doing. For me, that meant changing jobs and having a really hard conversation with someone in my life that I really loved. Then, in my second experience with burn out, it meant slowing way down, increasing my rates, hiring more team members and becoming more visible. Scary stuff. Stuff I didn’t know if I could handle 5 years ago. This year is bringing an even bigger slow down personally before burn out can hit. Life can be hard – but you don’t have to let it stay that way.
Do you know you’re facing burn out and truly feel that something big needs to change in your career or your life? I would be more than honored to support you through that transition toward regaining control over your priorities, asking for the support you need and realigning where you want to be spending your time.