“I don’t know what is wrong with me. I have no energy and no drive to continue to take care of my daily tasks. No matter how much I sleep, I never feel rested and renewed. I know my wife wants me to be more engaged and my kids think I am old and lame, but I just can’t seem to get my old happy and energetic self back.” Joe looked at the floor as tears came running down his cheeks. “I feel so ashamed that I am letting everybody down.”
As we continued to talk about his challenges, Joe shared with me that although he had been dealing with chronic stress and overwhelm for years, he was always able to push through exhaustion, migraines and even frequent colds. Yet, for some reason it seemed, that now he had nothing left to give. I told him that since medical tests didn’t show any signs of a serious illness, he most likely dealt with the early stages of burnout. Joe looked at me with a mixture of fear and confusion as he asked me, “What does burnout mean? And are there any pills to fix it?”
Millions of people struggle with burnout, which is why World Health Organization recently deemed it as a classifiable workplace phenomenon. The term burnout was coined in the 1970s and used to describe the consequences of severe stress in doctors, nurses and other helping professionals. Yet over the years it became clear that burnout can affect anybody from the stressed-out employee to the overextended homemaker. While there is still no clear definition on what burnout really is, there are several signs that can tell you whether you heading toward it:
- Every day is a struggle
- You feel helpless and disillusioned
- You are mentally and physically exhausted all the time
- You have no motivation, because nothing you do seems to make a difference
- You find most of your tasks dull or overwhelming
- You feel underappreciated and alone
- Taking care of your job or your family seems like a waste of energy
- You tend to isolate from your family and friends
- Your outlook on life becomes increasingly cynical and negative
- You take your anger and frustration out on others
- You use food, alcohol or drugs to cope
Most of us are dealing from time to time with low energy, lack of drive or some of the other symptoms above. Yet, when these feelings become more or less your default setting, you are probably dealing with burnout.
Not only share anxiety and depression some of the burnout symptomology, some experts suggest that these emotional challenges are at the root of developing burnout down the road. However, no matter what causes burnout, it isn’t a flaw or weakness, but just your mind-body system sending you a strong message that it is time for a course-correction. One of the reasons why burnout is becoming such a major issue in our overly busy societies is that we don’t pay attention to its early warning signs, because we are too externally focused and not connected enough to mind and body. The good news is that there are many ways and tools to effectively prevent and treat burnout.
Join me on Empowerment Radio this Thursday, August 1st at 9AM PT / 12PM ET and find out whether you are potentially driving yourself towards burnout – and what you can do to course correct.
If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll speak to it on my show. Or, watch it on Facebook Live and comment there.