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How to Recognize Burnout and Breakdown Before It's Too Late

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You started out loving what you do, and you have a big dream!

The thought of achieving it excites and frights you in equal measure.

You work hard and often long getting all the pieces put together. It's exciting, and it'll be worth it.

A few extra hours here and there.

A Saturday morning and a Sunday evening.

And before you know it, there seem to be more bad days than good.

In time, every day is a bad day.

If this is true for you, you might be on the edge of burnout - can you tick off more than 3 of these?

  • You've stopped caring about your work
  • Having a home or social life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You're exhausted all the time.
  • You feel empty and apathetic
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.
  • You can't see an end to feeling this way
  • In all seriousness, if you're nodding along, please pay attention.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life--including your home and social life. Burnout can cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Burnout can lead to serious depression and suicidal thoughts - It is important to deal with the signs of burnout right away.

There are subtle differences between being stressed and being burned out. While you're usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don't always notice burnout when it happens

A little stress gets things done, is motivating, can be useful - burnout is beyond stressed.

Stress is characterised by overengagement whereas burnout is characterised by disengagement.

When you are stressed your emotions are overreactive and you may cry or shout easily. When you are experiencing burnout your emotions are blunted and feeling anything is tricky as you have numbed yourself - either by spacing out or retreating in.

Stress produces urgency and hyperactivity, burnout produces helplessness and hopelessness.

I'm going to signpost three areas that you may notice or observe symptoms; physical, emotional and behavioral... (taken from HelpGuide)

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout:

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot
  • Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout:

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioural signs and symptoms of burnout:

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
  • Taking out your frustrations on others
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

So, what do you do if you are displaying symptoms of burnout?

I'm going to share my top tips - take note before you breakdown! Also be aware that burnout can creep in if you let these slide for too long. Be kind to yourself, and remember these are vitally important to your business and your wellbeing!

1. Start the day with a relaxing ritual.
Rather than jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend at least fifteen minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you. Set your intention for the day, make sure you are in charge not your email or someone else's agenda; you are the boss of you!

2. Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits.
When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life's hassles and demands.

3. Set boundaries.
Don't overextend yourself. Learn how to say "no" to requests on your time and resources. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying "no" allows you to say "yes" to the things that you truly want to do.

4. Take a daily break from technology.
Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

5. Nourish your creative and playful side.
Creativity and play are a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favourite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work and make you feel good. Sing. Paint. Dance. Cuddle. Forage. Explore. Make a den!

For more tips like this, make sure to sign up for my Monday Pep Talk

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