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Warning: You Have Entered the Burnout Zone

Warning: You Have Entered the Burnout Zone

    Living and working in a state of burnout has become the norm in our society. Sadly it’s so common that we fail to recognize the signs. We barely even notice anything is wrong. Stress and exhaustion are now a way of life. Yet, we are making a serious mistake than can have severe consequences.

    What does it mean to be “burned out?”

    Burnout is a state of overwhelming exhaustion; mental, emotional and physical. It can be caused by work pressures, lifestyle factors, even certain personality traits. It’s more than everyday stress. Burnout is characterized by overpowering, unrelenting stress over a long period. The mind and body are so beaten down that simple daily functioning seems like an overwhelming burden.

    Being burned out has a tremendous impact on both your physical health and mental well-being. As the extreme stress continues, the result is often life altering illness, depression, and a pervasive sense of extreme failure. Essentially, there is nothing left to give and the body starts shutting down.

    Beware the warning signs of burnout

    The first step is being aware of the warning signs that signal burnout. We frequently dismiss or rationalize them away. We are just dedicated to our jobs, honoring our commitments, or being a good parent, child, or friend. Those are merely our justifications so that we can go on doing what we’ve been doing.
    We need to pay attention to the signs.

    Mental signs:

    • A pervasive sense of failure and self-doubt

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    • Feeling helpless, incompetent and defeated

    • Loss of motivation and interest in your job, hobbies or family

    • A very negative, irritable and impatient attitude

    • Lack of a sense of satisfaction and any feelings of accomplishment

    • Feeling detachment and distant from the rest of the world

    • Experiencing a vicious cycle of overwhelm while the world is crashing around you

    • Frequent distraction and an inability to focus or be engaged in a conversation.

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    • A feeling of pushing yourself harder with no results

    • A pattern of memory loss, forgetting where you put things or what you are doing

    Physical signs:

    • Extreme exhaustion and lack of energy, feeling completely drained

    • Loss of appetite, interest in intimacy or insomnia

    • An increase in sickness or a general feeling of unexplained illness

    • Frequent headaches, back and neck pain, muscle and joint aches

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    Behavioral signs:

    • Calling in sick for work, being late, even quitting or getting fired from your job

    • Increase in conflicts both in the workplace and at home

    • A general lack of self-care, skipping meals, poor eating habits, sometimes even a change in personal hygiene

    • Self-imposed isolation and diminished quality of relationships

    • Extreme procrastination and lack of responsibility

    • Abusing alcohol, drugs, or food as a way to cope with life

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    What can you do?

    • When you see the warning signs; pay attention. Realize that is necessary to make some changes, possibly drastic ones, depending on the causes and severity of burnout. If you don’t take steps to recover, the damage will only continue to get worse and it will be harder to avoid burnout.

    • Allow more time for rest and relaxation. This may be anything from an extended vacation to a commitment to at least one day of rest each week, to negotiating less work hours.

    • Adopt a more balanced lifestyle. Spend more time with people you love. Allow more time to have fun, express your creative side, and engage in activities you enjoy.

    • Protect your boundaries. Say no to demands on your time by others, decrease outside commitments, and regularly disconnect from technology; phone computer, etc. The world will survive without you.

    • Make it a priority to get more sleep, eat a healthier diet, and engage in regular exercise.

    • Time alone is a must. Whether it’s journaling, meditation, reading, taking a walk or simply sitting quietly for a short period of time each day, you need to slow the mind and calm the body.

    Conclusion

    Learning how to manage stress is critical when you’re on the path to burnout. It is much easier to avoid burnout, than to recover from it.

    (Photo credit: Low-key portrait of desperate office manager via Shutterstock)

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      Royale Scuderi

      A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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