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Telltale Signs You’ve Been Suffering from Burnout for a Long Time

Telltale Signs You’ve Been Suffering from Burnout for a Long Time

“Burnout” is a physical, mental and emotional state of diminished energy, quality, and general appreciation of life. It is unequivocally universal, can predispose to anxiety and depression, and affects many on one level or another in our fast paced, highly demanding and arguably mentally overstimulated society.

Though we live in an era of readily available inspiration and abundance, many of us find that time escapes our control and that our physical, mental and emotional demands are at an all time high. This can trap us into a pattern of constant internal struggle, where we are driven by the sole motive of “keeping up” to prevent what we personally percieve to be avoidable and difficult consequences.

Burnout is conceptualized as a general feeling of exhaustion and inability to cope due to prolonged stress. It tends to manifest with a multitude of symptoms which include:

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  • A general lack of energy
  • A lack of interest in work related activities
  • Feelings of demotivation
  • Reduced performance as a result of the above

The symptoms of burnout can occur independently, but also in the context of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

Understanding the concept of burnout in itself, is a powerful start to heal its effects. Stress being the core issue, approaching the symptoms with self-criticism can exacerbate and prolong them further – recovering from burnout requires self-compassion, self-devotion and most importantly, self-reflection.

A combination of lifestyle measures, mindset changes and self-education can help you work through burnout and evolve through it and help you re-emerg with improved energy levels, motivation and a sense of control. Below is a list of considerations to make and tips to follow when dealing with burnout.

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First, you need to change your mindset.

Reflect and take a closer look of your life.

“The ability to honestly and quietly reflect on one’s life is one of the most powerful tools for personal growth.” (Richard Carlson)

Tracing back to the origins of your burnout may require a re-analysis of your passions, purpose and priorities – though this may seem disconcerting at first, understanding it as an opportunity for evolvement will help you reconceptualize your life.

Tune in to what your body is telling you.

“Listen to your body. Accept that some days it’s just not your day, and that’s fine.” (Juinn Ruei)

The physical manifestations of burnout are your biggests clues to tune in. Listening to your body is an important skill, and one that if often dismissed in today’s world. When your body reveals a lack of energy, understand that it is a message to wind down, rest and recover. When you are feeling lighter and more productive, that is your body signalling vitality.

Keep things simple, don’t complicate them.

“Complexity is your enemy. Anybody can make things complicated. It’s hard to keep things simple”. (Richard Branson)

The understanding that complex thinking is not required at all times can significantly help conserve valuable energy. Though major projects and problems may require abstract thinking, day to day life approached in a simple way can help ease stress levels and potentiate energy for the things that matter to you most. Practicing discernment in this area therefore, may prove very beneficial in your progress through burnout.

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Take action to work through your burnout.

Schedule down time to reset yourself.

Scheduling down time is the pivotal key to resurfacing from an episode of burnout. Easier said than done with many obligations to fulfil, you will find that timetabling alone time allows you to reset your mind to productive levels. Discover what you enjoy, and allow that to help you.

Save time for some inspiration.

Often during an episode of burnout, we lose perspective of why our job matters to us. We feel overwhelmed, and question our priorities. By allowing yourself to evolve and grow through inspirational resources such as TED talks and wide reading, you give yourself a chance to reconnect to your priorities once again.

Reconsider your eating habits.

Burnout being a state of diminished energy can be re-vitalized with healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Being mindful of eating and discovering the balance that is right for you can be both fun and healing at the same time.

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Disconnect from technology for a while.

Overuse of technology keeps us in a permanent state of being “switched on”. Giving yourself rest from constant messaging, checking of e-mails and surfing the internet without a clear purpose will allow you to clear your mind and rebalance your energy levels.

Engage in activities that you love and enjoy doing.

Moving in a way you love will help restore the mind body connection that is seemingly lost during episodes of burnout. By allowing your body to help you by engaging in activity you are passionate about, you redirect your mental stress and make space for a sense of refreshment.

More by this author

Vijaytha Murali

Doctor, United Kingdom

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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