Burnout, it often seems like the modern world is determined to make this a characteristic of our daily lives. Recently I’ve been giving myself a little bit of imposter syndrome. I work and teach people about mental health while at the same time letting mine dive off the side of a cliff. Sometimes we forget about self-care.
I realised that I had let myself go when I went out mountain biking. Things I would never have given a second thought to before were suddenly out the window. I realised that I was facing a mountain, the wrong way, so to speak. I was swamped, overwhelmed, and I was emotionally a wreck. It was all too much, and even simple things were a nightmare.
I needed to find a way to reset.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion.
Burnout does not just happen overnight; it builds up over time. It is a multiplier effect. Stress has to grow and pass through chronic stress to become burnout. With stress, we feel like we have too much to do; with burnout, we feel we have nothing left. Burnout is our body trying to protect itself after being hyperactive or stuck in a fight or flight system for a long time.
Burnout has symptoms similar to those of stress and anxiety. Your sleep will be disrupted, and insomnia will appear; you’ll feel fatigued, and as such, you will change your appetite and caffeine use. You’ll be ill more often, and your body will spend a lot of time feeling tense. You’ll be way more irritable and feel very apathetic and numb. Sarcasm will come to the fore, and with it, a lot of self-criticism and an almost debilitating self-doubt. You’ll procrastinate and isolate yourself. Numbing may be through the use of substances or by diet; you will no longer enjoy life.
At this point, I’d like to point out that I am just someone typing words online, and if you need help, you should seek professional help. No one will judge you for asking for help. Use what I’ve written here to make yourself realise that you are not alone, and in a minute, we’ll talk about some solutions you can try as you await an appointment.
Speak to your doctor or counsellor. If you can’t speak to them, talk to a friend or work colleague whom you trust.
What did I do?
I talked to people around me and let them know what I was going through. The most dismissive person of myself, at this point, was me; which is a good sign of being burntout. I then knew I had to try calming activities; I went back to reading. I took time to go and ride my tracklocross bike, as it is a style of cycling that is not connected with work. It can be a bit of a nightmare when your hobbies are also your work.
I started to make sure I prioritised time for myself to go through mindfulness practices. A small meditation in the morning and then used the various activities I have talked about on this blog before sessions, and slowly I started to turn the tide.
I also spent less time answering emails, invoicing, and dealing with work. It now has an allotted time, and I work to that. The problem for me is it easy to allow a business you own to overtake everything.
Overcoming burnout and the associated evils of stress and anxiety is not easy. A simple blog on the internet will not give you all the answers. I can show what I did and be honest and say I’ve made mistakes to let you know that life is not all plain sailing even after you prioritise your mental health.
Let us try and defeat burnout, feel free if you want to private message about your feelings.