Do you feel stressed? Is your energy draining instead of filling? Burnout is sneaky. It is insidious, pervasive. Keenly paying attention with curiosity to your stress and energy level is your most valuable skill to steer clear of burnout. Note which activities, people, and circumstances deplete you and which ones recharge your energy.
Pay attention to the signs of trouble in your life like a driver or pilot attends to the warning lights on a car or plane. You must take action when your own warning lights signal a problem.
Noticing your particular ‘warning signs’ of acute and chronic stress allow effective, nimble course correction. It is always easier to prevent burnout than it is to recover from it.
Clear warning signs include:
- Sleep that is irregular or not restful- too much, too little, insomnia, and convincing yourself ‘I don’t need much sleep’
- Emotional disturbances: Irritability, anger, ‘short fuse’ anxiety, depression, panic attacks, poor attitude, and resignation
- Low energy, fatigue, can’t get going, pain, seizing muscles & joints
- Little enjoyment or enthusiasm at home, work, or both
- Overdoing it, hyper-focused, or in overdrive
- Health problems like high blood pressure, hormone imbalances, low libido, substance abuse, and eating disturbances
The first step is to pay attention and recognize the truth of what is happening. If you are not sleeping, you are not replenishing and recharging your brain and body. Consuming, ingesting or injecting substances to ‘keep you going’ or ‘relax’ you is another place to look. Our culture rewards over-achievers. What if your central goal was achieving a balance between taking care of business and taking care of yourself and your loved ones?
A very simple way to take stock is record daily in your calendar either a happy face, a so-so face, or a sad face. ??☹️ Do this for a week- what does this assessment say about your life? What would it take to make 6 out of 7 days a happy face? Try it for a month. If more than half your days are neutral or sad, make corrections now while you have the energy and ability.
Steering clear of burnout is much like navigating a ship with a compass. A few degrees difference ends you in a completely different destination than ‘staying the course’. Making small, incremental changes can keep you moving through life with health, energy, and enthusiasm. Checking in on progress ensures you steer clear of burnout.
3 Tips to steer clear of burnout
- Routines allow you to easily “do” without deciding or thinking, freeing up energy
- Move with personal practices like Qigong, yoga, and exercise to circulate energy
- Breaks for mind and body, fresh air, resting and sleeping recharge you
Routine: People assume routines are restrictive, but in practice the opposite is true; routines are liberating. Habits and routine mean we no longer need to apply any decision making to what we’re doing, so your energy goes into the important decisions you need to make.
The same is true for time management, scheduling, and planning. It is common to underestimate how long things take, even when you’ve done it several time. Always plan more time than you need and be sure you create regular blank space in your calendar. It’s a contingency or a well-deserved break.
Move: Circulating energy ensures you have a healthy body and mind. Qigong is a complete energy fitness program that played a central role in my recovery from burnout. Perhaps it is right for you.
No matter what you chose, moving your body, clearing your mind and releasing stress are essential to maintain your well-being.
Breaks: The energy of activity must be balanced with the energy of rest, recovery and renewal to live an optimal life. Taking time to address your mindset is vital to avoid burnout. When you can objectively observe where you really are and take the necessary steps to balance activity and rest, you will master life so burn out is never an issue. Having a coach to help you see what you can’t and give you the tools, skills and steps can be extremely helpful, with profound life-lasting results.
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Consider talking with a friend, family member or colleague who knows you well and can give you some support, feedback and guidance. As you take stock, see what small step is easy and strategic. Do that first, get it under your belt, then take the next step. Notice your energy improve. When caught early, the renewed energy with continued diligence to correct problem areas, creates momentum to lift you back into a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
What do I do if I am burnt out?
What if you take stock, and most days are not good? If you’re burned out or on the verge, you are usually the last one to know. Frustration, hopelessness, cynicism and despair are the status quo. Unlike your car that stops running when the gas tank is empty, our bodies and minds can still carry on when significantly depleted, sinking us deeper and deeper into burnout.
Professionals are available and trained to help people just like you suffering from burnout. A holistic, integrative approach works best. Seeking medical, financial, legal, or business advice in addition to coaching, counseling or therapy are often the most efficient ways to right the ship. As a professional coach, I help people take stock of where they are, where they want to go, and help them get there.
Taking out the Trash:
The continual process of evaluation and ridding yourself of what no longer serves you creates space for the energy of creativity, enjoyment and a purposeful life well-lived.
If you need help or you’re on the brink of burning out, please get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the path to healing and thriving that is right for you. To learn more about complementary services that restore energy click here