What is burnout and are you vulnerable to it? Burnout is a state of prolonged chronic stress that leads to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Overwhelming fatigue and loss of motivation, feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as feelings of ineffectiveness are also symptoms of burnout. When experiencing burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level. Remember that burnout doesn’t just happen one day out of the blue. It happens slowly and although one thinks one can handle everything in life, one gets to a point where we can no longer cope. Our bodies and minds do, however, give us warning signs, and if you know what to look out for, you can recognize it before it is too late.
Signs Of Burnout
- Chronic fatigue and exhaustion. In the early stages of burnout, you may have a lack of energy and feel tired most days. In the later stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day. You will feel overwhelmed and as if you cannot pick your head up from your pillow.
- Increased illness and lowered immune system. As your body is depleted and exhausted, your immune system becomes weakened, making you more vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems. Start taking a good multivitamin that can help boost your immune system.
- Feeling anxious. In the pre-burnout phase, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and irritability. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become quite serious that you begin to have panic attacks. This will interfere in your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal and professional life.
- Feelings of depression. You may feel mildly sad, occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. You may not even know why you are feeling down. As the burnout grows, you may feel trapped, severely depressed, and think the world would be better off without you. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Loss of enjoyment in daily activities. At first, a loss of enjoyment may seem very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave, or feeling like driving to the shops is a burden. Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends. At work, you may try to avoid projects and figure out ways to escape work all together.
- Isolation. Isolation may seem like mild resistance to socializing (i.e., not wanting to visit friends, finding reasons why you need to be alone). The need to isolate yourself becomes more and more evident as you experience burnout. You may become angry when someone speaks to you, or you may come into work early or leave late to avoid interactions.
- Lack of accomplishment and productivity. Chronic stress prevents you from being as productive as you once were, which often results in incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list. At times, it seems that as hard as you try, you can’t seem to meet deadlines or effectively manage your work and time.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you need to be aware that you are on a dangerous path. Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late. Burnout is not like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. My next article will be about practical steps you can take to overcome burnout.
Master Life Coach, Counsellor and NLP Practitioner at Continuous Growth Life Coaching
Who are you? Are you comfortable with who you are and what you have become? Often we think to ourselves “I most certainly have not finished my journey with myself, so surely I cannot be happy with who I am at the moment?” Is this statement true? Or, are you pretending to be someone who you are not or someone who you want to be like?
These are only some of the different questions that run through our minds daily. “Am I ok?” or “Is who I am ok or acceptable?” These are questions that I ask myself. Perhaps I am not thin enough, or not beautiful enough (in someone else’s eyes)? Perhaps I am unacceptable to society because I do not stick to societal “norms” like keeping up with current fashion, or keeping up with the current trends. For that reason, it is very easy to believe you are not acceptable. But then again I ask “who defines who you are?” Does God define who we are? Do we as individuals define who we are, or does a social norm define who we are?
I like to think that I define who I am and that the things people say are just opinions and not facts. Who are people to tell me who I am? First of all, I know who I am! I am the only one who knows what I like and what I do not like, who I love or dislike, what I want to achieve in life and what my motives are for doing the things I enjoy.
In conclusion, no one knows you like you know yourself. No one has the right to tell you who you are! So let’s get one thing clear: I am acceptable because I know I am worthy and I add value to this world. This world may not value me or accept me, but I know I am of value and I know that I am acceptable. Therefore, I can define who I am. Have you discovered and defined who you are?
Does there ever come a time where you think to yourself: “if this thing disappears or if I lose that person, how will I ever continue to live happily?” When you ask yourself the above questions, what is it or who is it that you cannot live without? Perhaps it is a family member, a close friend, a pet or something materialistic that means a lot to you and brings you comfort and joy.
I thought of writing about this topic because I came to realise that I cannot live without a support system. We all have those days where it looks or feels like the end of the world. If it had not been for our support ssytem, our days would have been way worse without them! On days like these, it is my husband or the people I love that help me get through the day.
I am someone who loves people! As a result, people energize me! In contrast, there are those occasional days where I feel like I need to be alone. Consequently if I come into contact with anyone that day, heaven help them! Often we unintentionally take our friends and family for granted because subconsciously we think they will be around forever. Obviously this is not the case. The term I like to use here is conscious living. Conscious living is a very interesting term which has many aspects to it. I will discuss it more in depth next time. For now conscious living is about taking the time to live in the moment and become aware of every little thing around us. We need to live intentionally and love intentionally where by everything we do and love, we do it with purpose.
Do the people you love and those that mean the world to you, know how you feel? I read this specific quote a few times and it really resonated with me: Why is it that we give flowers, gifts, cards, compliments and kind words to our loved ones when they are dead? Why is it that we do not take the time to tell the people in our life, who matter most to us, that we cherish them and that we love them? Could it be that we fear intimacy or vulnerability of ourselves in such situations? Perhaps it is the busyness of life that keeps us from telling people and showing people our appreciation and love?
I urge you to phone that person that you have been thinking about the past week and let them know that they have been on your mind. Call up that family member that you have not spoken to for the past few months and tell them how much they mean to you. Make relations right with him/her. Whatever you need to do, whomever you need to call, I know that you know what needs to be done. Live life in abundance, fearlessly, consciously and intentionally. Also spread love and kindness wherever you go. Limitless living!
Have you ever met perfect Lily? Lily has always been the perfect person, never failing at anything and everyone just loves her! You think to yourself “If only I was more like Lily! If only I could do just as well as Lily does at Maths, or I wish I could be more sporty or more musical. Lily is just perfect! She looks amazing, she can eat anything she wants and doesn’t even put on weight! She has had a wonderful upbringing, she has so many friends and even the guys love her!” I am certain that all of us have had similar thoughts like the ones above.
Well to tell you the truth, Lily is not doing as well as you think. All of the pressure of being that skinny girl, the sporty one, the musical one and the one everybody loves, is getting to her. She is no longer coping in life. Anxiety and exhaustion are a constant factor in her life, the fear of failure plagues her, her desperate need for approval and acceptance is all she can think about; and to keep up with the perceptions people have of her, she abuses her body to look thin and perfect.
The thoughts that go through her head daily are “I need to be better, I need to be thinner, I need to be more acceptable, I need to be who everybody thinks I am! The worst of all is that people think I am happy and perfect, when in fact I am suffering from anorexia and the need for love. I would not wish this on anybody! In fact, I think suicide is the only answer.”
It seems now that Lily is not so perfect anymore. Why are you comparing yourself to Lily? “Lily” can be anyone or anything that you think is better than you are. What do they have that you don’t have? What price have they paid to get it and would you pay the same price? You are incomparable because there is no one else in the world like you! How can you begin to compare yourself to someone else who has a totally difference genetic structure, a different perception of the world, different strengths, different weaknesses and difference beliefs? You complete a piece of the puzzle in this world and only you can fill that space! Believe in yourself!
Luckily Lily identified that she needed help and she contacted someone who could help her. The right skills, coping mechanisms and techniques were given to her that she needed in order to cope with the anxiety and fear of failure. Lily has moved from an unhealthy situation into a space of self-love and acceptance. Perhaps you know “a Lily” or you wish to be like “Lily”. Remember that you are victorious and an overcomer.
Contact Us now to book a coaching session, so you can be your own Lily.