Burnout is an over-used term but interestingly enough is under-used by the increasing number of people who are experiencing it. It’s most often associated with over-work, high-pressure environments and lack of work/life balance, but can happen due to any ongoing situation causing excessive or prolonged stress be it due to grief, (whether due to the loss of a loved one or multiple bereavements, losses or profound change across different life areas), issues related to health, relationship challenges/breakdowns, finances, legal matters, parenting or caring for elderly family members.
Burnout on the one hand can be totally debilitating resulting in physical, mental and/or emotional exhaustion. On the other hand, the personality traits that are most prone to burnout (A-types: always liking to be in control and on top of things; those in roles that require looking after people: healing/carer/teacher/community health professions, managers/team leaders; and caregivers: primary parent, or looking after a family member or loved one), are the very same personality traits likely to brush off exhaustion and keep pushing through.
According to Reach Out, some of the symptoms of burnout include:
- feeling exhausted and unable to perform basic tasks
- losing motivation in many aspects of your life, including your work, hobbies or relationships
- feeling unable to focus or concentrate on tasks
- feeling empty or lacking in emotion
- losing your passion and drive
- being easily irritated by small problems
- experiencing conflict in your relationships with co-workers, friends and family
- emotionally withdrawing from friends and family.
“Essentially, when you’ve reached the point of burnout, it can feel like you’ve had the life sucked out of you.”
For me, fan of analogies that I am, I found myself saying things like “My brain feels like a computer that can’t fit one more thing and is going to shut-down if one more thing is added to it.” I’ve been here before and didn’t think I’d get here again having changed my ways years ago to get my work/life balance right. But this time, my burnout wasn’t due to over-work or lack of self-care time – I was doing all the ‘right’ things. It was due to something completely out of my control: too many family deaths to count over the past year, along with various other associated matters. It was like having a tsunami wave wash over us again and again.
In order to navigate my way through, my emotional/mental inbox was shouting at me to clear some space pronto! As I gradually pressed delete on one commitment after another, clearing mental/emotional space where I could (sorry, Monthly Messages and Sanctuary Spaces were part of that process and had to go), I felt my mind, heart and soul start to feel soothed, and start to stretch out, having gained some much-needed space.
While there is no one size fits all remedy for Burnout, we can put a lot of overall helpful tips under the two big umbrellas of Balance and Boundaries. Balance doesn’t always look like what you have been told it looks like or what you think it should look like. Mainly, it’s about finding a way to allow more of what you really need, and/or letting go of things you can no longer do, or can’t do right now.
Balance requires Boundaries: learning how to say no, not yet or not today; knowing what your non-negotiables are when it comes to prioritising your physical, mental and emotional health; and communicating your feelings and needs to the right person or people.
From all of this comes Breakthroughs. I appreciate the scuba-dive journeys that we go through in life, because I know that out the other side there is always a rebirth: a new upgraded self, new wisdom, new insights. And doing what I do, always new passion for new ways to help and support others going through similar journeys.
Right now, I am in the creative soil phase, on the cusp of producing some new things, allowing ideas to germinate.
If this topic has resonated with you, know that you are not alone. As the world goes through a collective transformation, we will all be pushed to step up to our individual next level of personal transformation. And vice versa. As we transform, we transform the world.
(c) Dana Mrkich 2023