Being Aware of Burnout = Life-Changing

Burnout costs people all over the world a ton of happiness, joy and fulfillment for many reasons. I’m no stranger to it (to the extreme, in fact), so I wanted to address this topic, this “elephant in the room,” so to speak. Today’s society is racing at a faster pace than ever before due to 24/7 news, social media and technology.

The reality is that burnout impacts every area of our lives – there’s no way to escape it, and you definitely don’t want to try and “push through it,” as tempting as it might be to do so (especially if you LOVE what you do, like I do). That’s a recipe for total exhaustion, the kind of feeling that can lead to fierce anxiety, depression and even a suicide attempt (as it did for me in 2011 before I was rushed to the emergency room by my wife).

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

I learned first-hand that burnout isn’t always obvious – it can slowly but surely creep up behind you, resulting in a sudden emotional mood swing of some sort, or a sudden, impulsive decision that you might regret very deeply. Some warning signs of burnout include ongoing, chronic fatigue, insomnia, anger and depression becoming the norm, forgetfulness, a lack of focus and concentration, a loss of appetite, feelings of cynicism, detaching from everything (“not caring”), feeling a lack of success in life, and so on. You get the picture.

The good news is that there are many ways to work through (and prevent) burnout from happening. I remind myself of these very regularly for the sake of my long-term success both personally and professionally.

Keys To Preventing and Dealing With Burnout

While we’re all different, here are some great ways to keep things in check when it comes to burning yourself out:

  • Learn to say no to taking on too much – if you’re emotionally empty, you can’t help anyone else. Take care of yourself first!
  • If you’re a creative like me, take some time to relax between projects. Ironically, we’re more creative when we’re not under major stress (calmer, inspired brainwaves are best, like when we’re in the shower or daydreaming), so as much as you’re excited for new creative ventures, remember to take breaks. You’ll bring your best to each new project and do it justice!
  • Be in control over your phone and other tech devices. This one is huge for several reasons. When we become conditioned to instant gratification by looking at social media or other online info, we keep our nervous systems “primed,” which can lead to poor quality of sleep, insomnia, debates through online disagreements and so much more. I’ve done this – it simply isn’t worth it. Tomorrow, the internet will (likely) still be there. Give yourself a break and resist temptation.
  • Go on a self-imposed vacation (or a “staycation” at home by disconnecting completely for a few days or a week)! Both of these options work well for me, though I confess that it’s much nicer to jump on a plane and go to a different place entirely, somewhere beyond the four walls of my house.

Finally – take a few deep breaths and remember the big picture of your life! Remember what means most to you, reminding yourself that if you’re emotionally exhausted, your personal relationships will suffer, your job will suffer, your creativity will suffer, and you guessed it – your physical health will also pay a price.

Be gentle on yourself – give yourself permission to take a break for the sake of your overall success, fulfillment and joy. Life’s too short to be miserable. You have control over it!

Yours in purpose and gratitude,

Jeff