Burnout Part 3: What can you control?

Earlier posts talked about what burnout from stress feels like and the effect it has on the body and mind.

Burnout often happens when you don’t think you can control the demands on your time and energy. But what can you control?

If you know you are committed to overwhelming tasks and demands that take up a lot of your time, try to reduce the chaos as much as possible. Do work earlier so that you don’t always feel like you are racing against the clock.  

Remember that it is normal to feel the chaos if you are in constantly changing situations either at work or in your personal life. Permit yourself to take things off your task list if you need to prioritize something else. 

Do things regularly that help put issues in perspective. Don’t wait until you feel like you are going to explode to stop for a rest. Plan and take an afternoon off. Insist on your routines and rituals of self-care such as exercise and social activities. Exercise builds up hormones you need for your brain to work better and cope better, which leads to less emotional stress as well as better physical health.

You are the best judge of your own situation. Even well-meaning people will not tell you to take a break because they don’t see your whole picture. If you do not intervene and reverse your own stress cycle, you become less capable of functioning in regular activities. This accelerates the cycle toward frustration and resentment in addition to creating stress-related physical health issues (weight gain, poor eating, aches and pains, etc.).   

When does burnout become something that needs medical intervention?
How can you help yourself before you need medical intervention

  • Are you almost literally dragging yourself out of bed everyday? Are there any days when you choose not to get out of bed? 
  • Do you find it difficult to make routine decisions on things such as food and clothing? 
  • Do you chronically feel sad? Do you feel tempted to just quit and walk away from everything?  
  • Has it occurred to you that your symptoms feel like depression sometimes?

If you have answered yes to any of those questions, this is a definite indication that your burnout is affecting you emotionally and you are approaching Stage 3. It can look like depression and this stage limits your ability to make routine decisions, never mind harder decisions that reverse the direction of the burnout cycle.  

Regardless of the stage you are currently in, counselling can help you take control of the emotional triggers. In Stages 3 and 4, medical intervention can redevelop a better energy balance so you can return to a higher health baseline. Without this reset, you might not be successful in restoring balance to your life. 

In the next post we will provide a guide to all the stages of burnout with concrete examples of how each stage looks and feels like.

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