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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.

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Vijaytha Murali

Doctor, United Kingdom

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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