Burnout is real, and it doesn’t just come from over-working at your job. Stress and uncertainty can keep you in high alert for long enough that it gets really hard for you to come down. Luckily there are things you can do before you burnout to prevent it from happening in the first place.
One of those things is taking a clear-eyed look at why burnout is so prevalent in the first place, and whose fault that might be. My podcast episode on ‘Before You Burnout’ walks you through that.
Listen to the Podcast Here:
What Is ‘Burnout?’
Luckily there are many things you can do to keep yourself from crossing over in to the red part of your personal tachometer. But before we jump into solutions, I want to talk about what burnout is and where it comes from.
We tend to think of burnout as something that happens when you work too hard. And if you just went to yoga class or learned to meditate, you would be better equipped to perform. But burnout is not a personal failing. It’s a completely understandable response to many of the realities of life.
Even before Covid-19, in May of 2019, the World Health Organization had classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon. Meaning, burnout isn’t just your problem to solve. Our workplaces have got to do some serious reflecting on why everyone is feeling so darned burned out in the first place. It’s like putting kids in a room full of Nerf guns and then getting mad when someone shoots someone else in the eye.
Of course, the collective work environment reflects our values as a society. The American dream of ‘work your tail off and you’ll get all you ever wanted’ is starting to show it’s cracks. Add in the fact that wages have been stagnant or decades. Reports from the PEW Research Center show that the average wage in 2018 had the same purchasing power that it did 40 years ago. And you can start to see that most of us are stuck in cycle of needing to continually work hard.
I share this not to depress you, but to normalize the burnout you may be feeling.
Burned Out from Covid Stress?
This was all true before Covid struck and now we are weighing what feel like life or death decisions multiple times a day. Is it OK to hug grandma? If I forget my mask, or wear my mask, will a stranger harass me? Will opening schools unleash a tidal waves of new deaths? And what’s been keeping me up at night lately? Will public school survive the epidemic? It’s a rabbit hole, and it’s on top of your work duties. And if you have kids, your parenting duties, which have intensified because the kids are dealing with a lot of big emotions around the pandemic.
So to really and truly treat burnout, we need work to change. We need the pandemic to be at least mostly controlled. And we need to move past this period where all our stresses–about our finances, our health, our families–aren’t getting lit up every day by news of the virus and the many many things it is having an effect on us such as, the economy and schools.
The hard truth is: these things aren’t going away any time soon. And they aren’t going away without all us finding meaningful ways to chip and help them change. We’ve got to do what we can to protect ourselves from burnout. Even though it’s not our fault, it is our responsibility to ourselves and the people we have influence over. Whether that’s your family or your employees–to re-think some things so that we unconsciously get stuck on the hamster wheel 24/7, 365 days a year.
Thank You For Caring
If you are feeling like you might be burned out, or getting close to it, know this: It means you care. And that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing. From my heart to yours, thank you for caring. Because we need people as many people who give a darn about things outside of themselves as we can get!
Caring can feel like a thankless job. And it stinks that caring makes you more prone to burnout, but it is true. But caring is a super power. And with great power comes great responsibility, am I right?
For our purposes here, that responsibility is to think about how you can support yourself and the folks in your circle from the thought patterns that either invite burnout, or make it more likely. Ultimately, the things we have the most control over are our thoughts and our actions, so that’s where I’m starting. And hey, once you’re feeling restored from burnout, you’ll be able to think more clearly and have more energy the work that needs to be done to make burnout way less common.
Before You Burnout
Some of the things we’ll be talking about this week are how to truly let go of some of the expectations that make you feel like you’re never done, the magical power of leisure, how to reframe your view of hard times, and how to balance that very important ability to reframe by knowing how to beware the brightside. I’m very excited for this week’s episodes, and next week I’ve got interviews with a couple of amazing health care providers who can help you understand the physiological aspect of burnout and what your body truly needs to pull out of it.