First, let me start off by saying this: Burn-out is VERY real. “Burn-out syndrome” is broadly defined as the “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” Certain levels of stress are inevitable, but being “spread too thin” or feeling “worn-out” by the responsibilities of one’s career while balancing a personal life can become absolutely crippling and anxiety inducing to some.
> burn (oneself) out
phrasal verb of: burn // adjective: burnt-out
1. Ruin one’s health or become completely exhausted through overwork.
2. Related: Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overloaded.
My burn-out episode hit me after several months of 14 hour work days, combined with a bad breakup, moving to a new city, dislocating my rib and a toxic work environment. I had been stressed out before, but burn-out took that fatigue to a new and unimaginable level. It wasn’t until I reached stage-10-burn-out before I understood much I had allowed my career, ambitions and fear of failing to override my personal needs. Recognizing that I had overlooked my basic well-being; it was important to re-evaluate my lifestyle, the choices that lead me astray and learn how to be better to myself. With these tips, not only have I learned to manage my stress better, but most importantly, I am a happier, more productive individual in both my professional and personal life.
3 Ways To Prevent Burn-Out:
1. Say “No” More Often.
This tip is very simple… Just say “NO!” – Respectfully of course. Obviously there are professional limitations to how and how often you say “no,” but if you are like me, you may work overtime to impress your boss, take care of other people’s needs over your own or rearrange your schedule to accommodate others.
Because of these tendencies, I naturally take on more than I can handle and become mentally and physically overwhelmed over time. I have discovered that I say “YES” too often and stress myself out by trying to accommodate other people’s needs. “Can you get this design to me by the end of the day?” -YES. “Do you have time to do this project for me too?” – YES. “Can you stay late?” – YES. “Can you hang out tonight” – YES. The hardest thing for me to do is to turn down a project, cancel plans or disappoint a someone special, so I spread my time too thin and as a result, become overwhelmed. Do yourself a favour and know your limits and understand that you are ALLOWED to say “no” sometimes.
Many of us reach for our phones the second we wake up and right before we close our eyes and go to bed. A University study discovered that the average person checks their device 85 times a day. This tip may seem obvious, but after you finish work – Disconnect. If you think about it… how often do you check your phone, or see an email push notification during dinner? When I used to work from home full-time, I would often get last-minute work requests late into the night or be woken up to emergency design changes. Being young and eager to please, I would (of course) get to those projects right away, sometimes working upwards of 14 hours a day. Every once in a while, a late night time-cruncher is understandable, but never allow yourself to get taken advantage of. Remind yourself that 8 hours a day is a full work day – those emails can wait until tomorrow.
3. Listen to what you know you need.
There is no negative thought, feeling or anxiety caused by an external source, only from what you allow into your life. As my Mom likes to remind me… “the only person responsible for how you feel is yourself.” With this being said, it is healthy remind yourself that burning out (and the low that comes from the experience) is on YOU. Ultimately, you did this to yourself and now it’s time to re-evaluate the choices that led you there. This sounds harsh, but the lifestyle you are living is not functional or you wouldn’t be feeling this way. For me, I had to consciously prioritize HAPPINESS and discover how to cultivate more positive and happy vibes into my life. I left my job, my relationship and living situation so that I could be my “best self” (thank you, Oprah).