So what exactly is burnout?
As human beings, we are all energy. We give energy to all that we do, from breathing to eating, fitness to working and sleeping to everyday activities which we do so naturally, we don't even think about doing them, but they all need energy. Now, if we put too much energy, consistently over a long period of time, into an activity, say work, and we go over and above what is expected of us day in day out, without having the confidence to ask for support, help or check-ins from others, we can literally burn that energy out like a fire which has extinguished. It may take months, it may take years but burnout can arrive if it is not checked and stopped in its wake. In a way, burnout is a life saver, because without it we could literally collapse if we don't stop. As my first life coach told me when I was first burnt out, “if you don't stop, then your body will stop you” and mine did just that.
Now, let me clarify, not everyone who is working long hours is going to “burn out”, but particular personality types (like mine for instance) who have striven, amongst other things in the past for perfection, for acknowledgement from others and who liked to give 150% to everything they have done are, in my understanding, more likely than others to burn out. Since my serious illness with M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome), from which after 8 years I have thankfully now fully recovered, I have been lucky enough to understand these behaviours about myself and to understand how to use the characteristics I mention above for more positive effect rather than negative. How amazing would it have been though if I had had this understanding before I became ill? If I had asked for help and had understood how close to burning out I truly was, would it have prevented me from becoming as ill as I did? Yes, I believe it would, because knowledge is one thing, but understanding is something else. I knew about burnout and executive/workplace stress years before I became ill, but never in a million years did I expect to be as susceptible as I was to them. Asking for help a year before would have guided me through the process of rejuvenation to a place where both my physical and mental energy were restored and my health was repaired significantly enough to continue doing the job I loved to the best of my ability without the despair I had been feeling (but hadn't allowed myself either to realise nor acknowledge).
FREE checklist - the 7 signs you may be heading for burnout:
- Disillusionment about your job - you are finding your job less enjoyable than you once did and you are struggling to find the importance in your work now. These can be signs that you are burning out ❐
- Negative emotions - you find yourself feeling in a low mood more regularly compared to previously where you used to be more positive. You are crying more often or losing your temper either with loved ones, at work or both. These are signs that your emotional energy levels are being compromised and you could be burning out ❐
- You find that you are making mistakes at work or not completing your work as efficiently or effectively as you once did. Work is taking its toll on you, either emotionally or physically these days. These could be signs that your energy levels are depleting and that you are finding it hard to get the energy back to give all you once did in your job ❐
- You are having trouble sleeping or relaxing at home and you are waking in the early hours of the morning worrying or thinking about work and what you may or may not have done. Your weekends are often filled with thoughts about work and your family and friends are starting to notice you are not present with them as much now. Again, these are signs that you are unable to give the energy to what had been important to you and your focus is being swayed towards anxieties or problems in the workplace rather than enjoying your free time with those closest to you ❐
- You are feeling more fatigued than you used to and this fatigue is lasting longer and longer where you are experiencing slumps at work where you once had a constant drive and energy for your job. These could be signs that you are burning out and that you need help to re-energise both mentally and and physically ❐
- You are finding yourself becoming emotionally distant from others. You feel very distant from the life you once knew and you feel you are losing a part of yourself where you don't feel you belong to where you once did. Not only is emotional distance a difficult place to be from a personal perspective because connection with others is a vital human need, it is also significantly debilitating from a work perspective because it doesn't allow for support or assistance from others to prevent the road to burnout. They don't know you are struggling because you are closing the doors to them ❐
- Your workload is getting to you. What once you enjoyed and did without too much effort, now feels effortful. This is affecting your health, your diet and you are finding yourself turning to stimulants such as alcohol, poor diet and self-medication to “cope”. The further down this road you go, the harder it can be to ask for help because self-esteem and self-confidence start to drop because you aren't coping, and you then start to feel “embarrassed” to ask for help ❐
If this checklist resonates at all with you, I can help! Get in touch for a FREE 30 minute call with me today firstname.lastname@example.org
Prevention is better than cure. Great coaching takes only weeks or months. Recovery, on the other hand, once burnt out, can take years.
The benefits of asking for help from me are:
- your emotional stress will ease, allowing you to live a happier, freer, more contented life
- your confidence, self-esteem and self-belief will build, both in the workplace and outside enabling you to make positive changes where necessary
- you will get a greater understanding of who you are now and where you want to be meaning you will feel more in control.