Published in Irish Tech News on 13.11.18:
You would think that after my first or even my second burnout that I would have learned to recognise the signs. It wasn’t until I had had my third, that I understood I needed to change.
Never one to do things by halves, this lead me to become an avid student of the human condition. I am now qualified in NLP, Mindfulness, Hypnotherapy, EFT, Reiki and DiSC.
So, what is burnout? It is a condition that follows a period of significant stress. You suddenly lose all faith in whatever you were striving towards. Nothing feels worth the time or effort, not to mention the sacrifices you have made.
So how do you know that you are on the verge of burnout?
You are busy busy busy!
Being busy is a right of passage these days. It has become an excuse for self neglect. You become so wrapped up in rushing around and getting things done that you pay little attention to how you are actually feeling.
Give yourself some time each day to pause and focus on your breathing. Even if it is as little as 10 minutes. There will be areas in your body that will be affected by stress. Identify them. Make a conscious effort to relieve them of tension. Breathe.
Your friends and family are telling you to stop. What do they know?! They are not in your shoes. They don’t understand.
In fact, maybe you should stop and listen to them. How many times have I ignored the warning signs? Argued with a loved one who’s tried to help? Now when this behaviour pattern emerges, I take time out to “be me again”. To go out and have fun! When I do, I become more productive.
This job is more important to you than anything else
A work colleague once told me, “One day, when you are sitting on your porch looking back on your life, all the time and effort you are putting into your work right now will hold little significance. Your work does not define you”. He was right. Making a deadline, achieving a promotion can seem like the most important thing in the world. But are they really, when you look at the bigger picture?
You have no time for you but stopping feels like insanity
Once, I was running a large project, which meant that for a number of months I was working a full 8-hour day and then coming home to look after my family. After everyone else was in bed I would log back on again and work into the early hours.The project ended and I felt depleted, worthless and at a dead-end. This was completely normal after what I had put myself through. If you are feeling like this right now, don’t deny yourself those feelings. Let yourself feel them. Then, let them go and ask for help.
You do not know who you are or what you enjoy any longer.
Most burnouts start with a realisation that you no longer recognise yourself. You can’t imagine being happy again. You may want to quit your job and do something different.
It’s time to realise that running away from a problem does not solve it. Instead start small. Don’t take any drastic steps. Look for enjoyment in little everyday things, like kicking autumn leaves about on the pavement or savouring a hot cup of cocoa. These small actions will help rebuild your self-worth. Once you have done that, then you can start making the bigger decisions. Reconnect with your authentic self and life becomes so much easier.