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Have you ever gotten to a point of complete exhaustion and stress, but blame it on a million different things…
Work is just crazy right now, but when it slows down I’ll be good.
I think I’m just tired, but after this weekend I’m sure I’ll feel energized.
It’s just PMS, nothing to worry about
…without ever considering if you’ve reached burnout?
I’ve been there, friend!
About two years ago, I had reached total and complete burnout.
Like, sleeping all the time, but still feeling exhausted, working super hard, but still feeling uninspired, and trying to be at my best, but still feeling irritable, burnout.
If that wasn’t enough, my Dutch test revealed that I had signs of severe adrenal fatigue.
So yeah, your girl was tapped out
But the good news is, through my own journey of reaching burnout, I have learned a lot about how to recognize burnout in myself, and how I can be proactive to avoid reaching that point again in the future.
So if you’re a hard worker, if you’ve experienced big life changes recently, or are navigating grief and hardship, I want to offer you a message of encouragement in this episode of the SHE podcast and share what I wish I would have known before hitting that point of total burnout.
How to Recognize Burnout
Before I reached burnout in my own life, I had always thought burnout was a result of just working too hard (so basically, as an enneagram 3, it seemed inevitable).
But I’ve learned from personal experience that burnout doesn’t only come from overworking ourselves, but also from experiencing grief or going through significant change.
When my dietician told me about my adrenal fatigue, I realized as I looked back over the past several years that I’d gone through a lot – marriage, multiple cross-country moves, shifting careers, traveling and working late nights, experiencing grief and physical trauma – so yeah, I guess it’s possible that I may be slightly stressed?
Having sleep patterns that are all over the place, working 12 hour days, experiencing loss or illness, moving, starting a new job – all of these can lead to burnout.
And maybe you haven’t gone through all of these things, but even just experiencing one or a couple of these factors combined can be enough to gradually wear you down.
It’s important to be aware of recent events in your life and how they may be causing you stress, but it’s equally important to be aware of your emotions to recognize when you’re reaching burnout.
I always thought when someone was burned out, they felt frazzled and overwhelmed.
But for me, burnout felt like being meh – disengaged, irritable, and just not myself
So if you start to become emotionally exhausted, withdrawn, or even cynical in your relationships, you may not just be tired and it may not just be PMS, you could be totally burned out.
How to Avoid Burnout
But how do you prevent that from happening?
First, think about what overwhelms and stresses you out, and then unapologetically set boundaries over what you can control.
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid everything that stresses you out, but limiting what you can is an empowering step towards your own wellness.
Maybe this means not looking at blue light the last hour before you sleep, or not looking at your email past 6 pm, or taking one night a week to go out or eat leftovers instead of cooking. Do what will actually be helpful for you.
Setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad boss, employee, or friend.
Setting boundaries doesn’t make you lazy, they make you wise and they keep you healthy.
So place limits on how much you make yourself available – your email is not a 24/7 Waffle House).
Limit what projects and commitments you raise your hands for. You’re allowed to say “no”. (Even if it’s a good opportunity!
And don’t just say “yes” because you don’t want to let someone down. Say “yes” because future you will thank you for doing it now.
If an opportunity could contribute towards future burnout for you, then say “no”.
It’s okay to be selective and picky about how you fill your time and the margin in your life. Be particular and be discerning.
Take care of yourself by prioritizing your sleep and a night-time routine that will actually relax you (News flash: watching another episode of that show is not winding you down).
Get fresh air daily and take time for yourself.
Set aside at least one day a week where you don’t look at social media
Have hobbies for crying out loud!
As someone who is tempted to stay plugged in and only take time for what feels “productive”, I’ve seen firsthand that you will show up as a better wife, friend, and employee when you set boundaries in your life that reflect your priorities and values.
And I still struggle with a lot of these things (we all know hobbies are hard for me – but we’re getting there!). But gradually I’ve given myself the permission to say “no”, the freedom to ask for help, and the approval to grow slow
You don’t have to be a superwoman and accomplish everything all at once.
You don’t need to do and be everything to everyone.
Friend, I hope you feel a bit lighter, a bit more hopeful, and a bit freer to structure your life in a way that leaves you well, rather than leaves you totally deprived.
For those feeling weary today, please know that you’re not alone in your burnout. There’s nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do, and you can and will get through this.
Give yourself permission to learn as you go, and to adjust your life as you learn.
And if you want to dive deeper and hear even more, listen to the full episode to learn:
- Why burnout is more than just “working too hard”
- What you can do to proactively prevent burnout
- How to unapologetically set boundaries in your life
- Practical tips to support your wellness
Then let us know in the comments: what is one piece of advice you have for others to prevent burnout?
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