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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 July 8, 2020

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

      1. Understand Yourself Better

      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

      3. Become Aware of What Matters

      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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      4. Boost Creativity

      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

      6. Process Life Experiences

      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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      7. Stress Relief

      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

      8. Provide Direction

      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

      9. Solve Problems

      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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      10. Find Relief From Fighting

      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

      11. Find Meaning in Life

      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

      14. Let the Past Go

      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

      15. Allow Freedom

      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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      16. Enhance Your Career

      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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