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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 March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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