With everything that has been going on, it is not hard to understand why you might be feeling burnt out. Being under differing levels of stress can have a huge impact and your brain and body can only cope with feeling overworked, overtired, or overwhelmed for an amount of time. This is something you might be experiencing due to the pressure you may have been under lately – it could even be as simple as you’ve just been trying to make the most of some much-appreciated freedoms again and it might be feeling like trying to fit everything in you’ve missed it is becoming too much.
In a situation where our balance is off – where you’ve potentially been experiencing stress, burning the candle at both ends or not being able to have an adequate amount of downtime for whatever reason, exhaustion can take over and lead to you feeling burnt out.
Burn out can be a feeling of both physical and mental tiredness and can lead to you feeling less motivated, easily agitated, anxious, depressed and finding it hard to function.
How do you notice the signs of burnout?
Key ways burnout can manifest:
- Muscle aches, pain, and tension
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability, frustration, a sense of depression and anxiety
- A sense of apathy
- Loss of interest in areas of your life such as work, friendships, and those around you
Whilst this list isn’t exhaustive, it is clear to see that looking at ways to address burn out and the feelings of overwhelm you might be experiencing is essential to overall wellbeing. Below, are number of steps you can take to identify the problem and hopefully improve how you feel.
Can you identify where this feeling comes from?
Trying to make changes is hard to do when you don’t know the source of the problem. It is helpful to really analyze and think about what it is that is causing you to feel burnt out. It might feel like there is one obvious factor, but there could be a number of things going on beneath the surface that are contributing more than you think. Try writing – whether journaling, or even in a note app about what is going on and what you think is causing you to feel stressed. Do you have a demanding workload? Are you experiencing a period without much work? Are you trying to cram too much in week to week and it’s just not fitting together? Are you having relationship problems? Money problems? Caring for someone? Health concerns of your own? This might be especially exacerbated if you find you have more than one factor going on at once – the stress that associates with one factor might be manageable on its own, but in combination can easily overwhelm.
What can you change now?
Once you have a better understanding of what is going on, you might find that there are immediate things you can do to help with this and lighten the load. You might also find you need to have a few conversations with people – can you explain to your boss that you’ve got too much on your plate for just one person? Can you cancel or reschedule a few commitments for times a bit further down the line? You may be surprised at the relief this gives you already. If you’re realizing that your schedule is way to jam packed or you’re just not giving yourself enough time to relax and recoup, take an honest look at if there are ways you can schedule some downtime. This is just as important as the activities you already create time for.
Are there other ways?
It isn’t always as easy as it might sound to address what is going on to cause burnout. However, it is important to remember that this is a temporary thing and it won’t be ongoing forever. If you’re finding that the things that need to change are perhaps resistive – it might be time to look at alternatives. For example, if your boss is reluctant to see that you’re overwhelmed by your workload, perhaps it’s time to see what your options are? This can really help you see that there can be hope in moving toward something that feels lighter and brighter.
This might feel tough, especially if you are a people pleaser, but setting limits on the time you can give to things can help you manage your feeling of burnout. Before accepting invitations or agreeing to do something with someone or to help, pause and think about what will be required of you. This purposeful pause is aimed to give you a moment to think about what this will involve and if you will really have the time and energy to put into it. Saying no does not make you selfish or mean – being selective is important to our general sense of wellbeing.
Inner critic and a kinder way
It’s all too easy in this achievement driven society we live in to think that everything we do needs to be the most amazing all the time. Have you ever heard yourself finishing off talking about something you’ve enjoyed doing with a yeah…but (and then insert part you could have done better)? This can have a really big impact on how we talk to ourselves. Especially when we feel burnt out – we feel like we should have the same energy levels and the same abilities to do things all the time. If a friend were in a similar situation and they asked you for help, the chances are you’d offer them kindness and empathy, so it’s about looking to do the same for yourself. You can’t always do everything, at your absolute best, especially when you’re run down and not refueled. So, noticing those inner critic thoughts when they come up and meeting yourself with more empathy is really important.
Meet your needs
Ideally, feeling burnt out would see you take a break and dedicate this to rest and relaxation but a lot of the time this is just not realistic. Workloads, bills, children, commitments, dependents and other such things are all very real scenarios that can make you feel like looking after yourself is impossible. So, trying to do the best you can with the tools you have is so much better than trying to wait for the ideal moment or time. This can include making sure you get enough sleep. Physical activity, eating nutritious meals and drinking enough fluids. Meditation, mindfulness practices and other relaxation techniques can also help to ground you back in the moment.