Spotting the start of Burnout
Burnout affects most people at least once in their life. Many of us go through cycles of intense excitement and then extreme burnout jumping from job to job or career to career. This happens the most often to workaholics who lack balance and enjoy their work, at least initially. However, in today’s society, all of us are susceptible to burnout. Below is a guide to some of the early signs that you might be headed towards burnout.
Maybe you just have a vague feeling of uneasiness or boredom. Maybe people in your personal life are making more comments about your mood in general. Maybe you’re just doing a lot of job searching or looking at a lot of vacation porn. Nothing crazy, just little cracks in the facade of “I love my job and my choices”. The first step is recognizing that there is nothing wrong with this.
We all go through dips in our satisfaction with our choices and our jobs. We all need vacations and escapism from our life. However, these thoughts and feelings become a warning sign when they are accompanied by repetition and with feeling stuck. Why are you just looking at where you can go instead of actively scheduling and going on vacation? Why aren’t you either talking with your supervisor about new challenges or actually submitting your resume? This lack of action is often, though not always, an indicator that burnout is starting to set in.
Below is a list of thoughts or actions that are the beginning of burnout:
- What is the point? We do the same thing over and over.
- I wish I could just leave everything behind and go do X. If only…
- I am so bored.
- I am so tired, I am going to skip…meeting my friends, working out, talking with my partner…I just want to watch TV.
You may not have those feelings every day. If you are, then burnout has truly set in and you should seek support. But if these thoughts are just starting to happen more and more, enough to notice, then it might be time to consider ways that your life is contributing to burnout.
Where are you out of balance?
A good place to start your introspection begins with your daily and weekly habits. Before you whole life starts to slip closer to burnout, take a moment to really reflect on what you do every day and every week. Karen Gould, an MFT in California, talks about the Six Facets of a Balanced Life, as a way to make a visual representation of the different parts of your life. However you chose to think of your life, take a look at what is starting to consume and unbalance your life.
The most common one is work but it is not the only one. In today’s society, it might be caregiving for aging parents, a demanding special needs child, a divorce, or an overwhelming home remodel. Whatever it is, this area is crowding out the other areas of your life and leaving a feeling of vague unhappiness and boredom behind.
At this stage, small changes can really make a difference and keep you from flaming out. The important part is to take your personal choices seriously. A great site, 15 Minutes 4 Me, has a great guide to taking a small piece of time just for yourself to really start to focus and become aware of your choices. Another great resource that can help with stress is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. I am particularly a fan of this class because it offers so many different tools that many people who say they are not “mindfulness” people can find at least one form of stress reduction that works for them.
Whether you start your journey by recommitting to working out or eating better or reconnecting to a friend, I urge you to begin the journey back to healthy habits that will allow you the space and energy to make purposeful and not reactive choices in your life and in your career. If you need a little help, I encourage you to reach out to the many mental health professionals who have the experience and training to help. I specialize in burn out and can be reached for a consultation at by phone and through the Appointment Request Form.