When was the last time you called off? Yes, I’m talking about your job. While I don’t do so often, it’s always very liberating and well worth it when I do. It’s what helps me manage burnout from working long hours.
Even if you enjoy your job – like I do – you can still become a victim of burnout. What exactly is burnout?
What is burnout?
Unlike typical tiredness, burnout impacts your daily operations and makes it even more difficult to cope in stressful situations. It’s a stress-ticking time bomb.
Anyone can experience burnout and it doesn’t just have to be associated with your job. It could be burnout from work, or caring for others. Long story short, your brain is exhausted and you begin to feel less and less like yourself.
What does burnout feel like?
I’ve, unfortunately, experienced burnout several times. I like to think it has a lot to do with my “go-getter, over-ambitious, type-A” personality. Fortunately, I’ve begun to recognize the signs and can self-correct if possible. For me, burnout feels like:
- Having so much to do, I do nothing – which is the opposite of my normal personality
- Wanting to spend more time away from everyone
- Unproductive (tied to bullet #1)
- I can’t turn my brain off
- General overwhelming feelings
For me, burnout happens when I’m involved in too many projects at once for an extended period of time. On top of managing those items, more and more may also be expected of me.
How do I manage burnout?
I often assess what is causing this issue and reflect on whether it will continue long-term. I often ask myself if the situation is temporary. If it seems like something that doesn’t have an end date, I evaluate whether the stress is worth it.
For example, if your workload increased recently due to someone being absent on your team, you know that when they return you’ll likely have less work to do. On the other hand, if you have a very demanding manager who doesn’t value you but continues to work you to the bone, maybe that’s not the place you want to work.
When I’ve hit the point of no return and burnout is in full motion, I simply take a break. More recently, I’ve experienced this at work. I knew I needed to find vacation time ASAP and I couldn’t find a break anywhere on my calendar for several weeks. My solution was to simply take a day off the very next day. While I had endless meetings and projects on my calendar, I knew that if I went to work that day, I wouldn’t perform my best.
I also do not “call off” often, so when I do – I really need it. I understand this can be a luxury for many people and I’m blessed to be able to put my health first. I went back and forth on if I should actually take the day off, and ultimately, I’m proud of myself for it. The younger me would’ve never done so.
Alternatively, had I not taken the day off, I would’ve probably worked from home instead of the office and opted out of a few meetings until I could take multiple days off.
After dropping my daughter off at school and making sure my son got on the bus, I treated myself to breakfast, did a little home shopping at Walmart, and went home. I took a nap, a long bath, and even started a new book.
For me, it turns out I not only needed a break from work, but a peaceful and quiet home where I could relax. By the end of the day, I felt amazing. I am truly thankful I was able to take time for myself.
If you can’t take time off from the action causing your burnout, find small ways to make the work bearable until you can. If you’re caring for your children or someone whom you love and you’re experiencing burnout, ask for help. Maybe someone can give you a small break. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I understand it’s a luxury to take time off – especially if you aren’t able to be paid. On top of making small changes to your day that help take the load off, I also recommend meditation, stretching daily, and connecting with nature. When I’m stressed, it’s funny how a walk around the block can help clear my head. I also love these herbs for calming me down during stressful times.
Back to my earlier point on reflecting. Truly assess if what’s causing your burnout is worth it. If you find your job radically causing negative shifts in how you think and behave, you may need a new job. You want to come to work for a company every day that respects your mental and physical health. Put yourself and your well-being first.