Have you ever had a bad case of burnout? No, not that burning sensation you get with unprotected sex. I mean the burn out where you feel emotionally drained. You don’t know why you are doing what you are doing. Maybe your boss is a person who just keeps piling on the projects and you have the feeling of being buried alive.
You used to love your work. You took on projects like a knight in an authoritarian tale. Now, on Sundays you get this tight feeling in your gut, you might even feel like you might be coming down with something. Your anxiety levels are through the roof! What happened? Where did your gusto go? Well, it was burned up and you are burned out.
This week we are talking about burnout, that feeling of complete exhaustion and so drained you don’t want to really do anything. Can you avoid it? If so How? If you are burned out you can you get going again?
What is Burnout?
Now like everything else, I do like to just get a good understanding as to what we are talking about. That way we are all on the same page.
Now there is a book called Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement by Herbert Freudenberger and he defines burnout as
- a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability.
Burnout is the loss of connection with you and others. You are emotionally fried and the bond you have with what you are doing has frayed to the point of almost breaking. That emotional reason is the glue. Your why to a task or purpose is needing to be routinely checked to make sure that the why is still true.
Signs you are facing burnout
If you feel dread every time you head to work or even if you think of work that is a sign that you are in burnout. When you arrive at work and you find yourself getting motivated to do the task at hand is a struggle that is another sign that could be in burnout.
When you lack all motivation to do even the tasks you love. Maybe it is going out and shooting a bow or working with your hands to build something out of wood. Even if it brings you solace and joy, yet you really don’t have the drive to do even a simple tinkering. Is a sure sign that you are burned out.
Being faced with a sense of you just can’t anymore. This is a sign you are burned out. That feeling of dread with work, or anything that you are really having to fight against. It appears there is so much resistance. That is a sign you are burning out. That resistance is actually a sign you are doing something not quite right. Yet we being bullheaded will keep pushing till we have burned out.
You can recover from burnout and we will talk about this later in the article. You are able to recover and find fresh energy to do the stuff you love
Maybe every day is a bad day. You dread waking up cause you are going to just have yet another sucky day at work. You can’t do anything right. You get downright nauseous when thinking of work is a sure-fire sign that you are facing burnout.
After a stressful day, do you ever notice that your mood really starts to swing, especially when you think of work? Out of the ordinary mood swings can be a sign of starting to burn out. Especially if you are having a good day and someone mentions something to do with work and boom! Pissy mood? Yeah, buddy, you are in the middle of burnout.
What are some activities that cause Burnout?
Burnout happens for many different reasons. Maybe you are taking on too much. Being a people pleaser can often contribute to this. While someone above you may also be contributing to you taking on way more than you can actually handle.
Unruly To-do List
Maybe your ToDo list has gotten out of control. You have things needing to be done and you have the time to do those tasks. Yet you just don’t and the list grows and grows.
Often we use the lowly to-do list as a helper to show us what we need to get done and to lay out our paths. Yet if we don’t pay attention to that list we will let the to-do list become a master of our world. To allow this list to be the controller of what we do can often cause this tool to be a very cruel and relentless master.
So if you find yourself under the burden of a To-Do List then it is time to start examining what you are putting on that list. Ask yourself why that item needs to be on the list and how it will help with your goals.
Not finding the right support
No matter if you are working for someone or you are a solopreneur, we have to have some support from other people to know that what we are doing is good and just. No man is an island so we have to find people who are going to support our cause.
You can find people who will help you in men’s groups like the Conclave of Men or other types of similar masterminds. These groups help you by giving you the needed encouragement and push needed for those times you feel really alone.
Not in your Right Zone
The author of The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks talks about there being 4 zones that we operate in.
- The Zone of Incompetence
- The Zone of competence
- The Zone of Excellence
- The Zone of Genius
The zone of Excellence is the zone we often find ourselves in. This zone is comfortable and we do very well when we are in this zone. The problem with the zone is that it isn’t the best zone for us. We often find ourselves burning out when we are operating in the zone of excellence.
We excel and our creativity blooms when we are in our zone of genius. We rocket towards success when operating in this zone. The reason so many of us don’t run in the zone of genius is that we have to overcome so many limiting beliefs as to what we deserve.
Gotta get it done yesterday! Hurry! Why is that project not finished yet? We need the report now! We are often under some type of pressure. We have to get things done. That pressure could be from work or from family. We are often pulled from many sides as a dad trying to raise a family.
Yet we need to find some type of respite. No matter how short it can be. Without that moment of decompression, we can burn out. Look at your progress like the downward pressure on a block of metal. The more pressure that is pushed down on it as it is dragged across a surface the more heat will be generated. The more heat that more damage is done. So carve out some time from your day to do something that doesn’t work. Maybe a hobby or walking or maybe a camping trip. Your time is just that yours. You have to take it for yourself.
Taking on Way too Much
Much like the to-do list we often find it hard to say no. We take on more and more till we find ourselves buried in stuff that needs to be done. That huge pile of stuff can be overwhelming and will often cause you not know where to start. The key is to choose something and much like an elephant, eat it one bite at a time.
The Dangers of burnout
If you don’t address burnout and you keep pressing on thinking that you can bare it. You can find yourself in a dangerous situation. From depression to substance abuse you will find ways to deaden the feeling of all the pressure you are adding to your life.
Yet the worst that can happen is actually death. Many men die because of Burnout. Not only heart attacks. The effects of stress can be also attributed to diabetes and other health ailments.
Also, if the depression is deep enough men have been known to commit suicide. Yes, Burnout can lead to suicidal thoughts. Look at Japan and their push to do as much as they can. In 2016 the suicide rate was 15.6 men per 100,000. Men not seeing that their hard work wasn’t paying off and they didn’t see there being any types of pay off anytime soon so they just ended their life.
How to stop being burned out
There are ways to ease the pressure of burnout. Even if you are in the depths of burnout you can stop it and find a way to recharge your battery. Find that purpose and get back in the fray with renewed vigor.
Take a Break
The simplest way to get out of burnout is to just take a break. It may be an hour, it may be a month. Depending on what you are doing that is causing your burnout. If you are trying to get your own business up and running, then it may be a needed weekend. You honestly won’t lose that much momentum if you stop for a day or two. Give yourself a breather.
Changing up your schedule is another way you can take a break. IF you are working from sunup to sundown then add a siesta period in there. Mix it up. Your mind needs just as much of a break as your body does.
Maybe an extended break
Maybe you need to take something like a sabbatical from that project. There are lots of health benefits from taking a sabbatical but you don’t need to just stop doing everything. But maybe you just take a sabbatical from working weekends.
There is a solution to the problem. You want to look at the problem at hand and see how you can find a solution to that problem.
Realign the task in your zone of genius
As mentioned above you could possibly be working in your zone of excellence. This is a huge cause of burnout and doesn’t help anybody. So you may need to start by finding your zone of genius.
This goes with the take a break but getting outdoors in any way is great for you. Not only do you get your vitamin D but you also get exercise. Depending on the exercise you may also start clearing out those pores by breaking a sweat.
You don’t have to just spend a little time outside but try pending an extended amount of time outdoors. You can do this by hiking or even camping. You will find even more restorative effects of the outdoors if you spend more than three days outdoors. This is called the 3-day effect and changes your mental processes but causes you to slow down.
Simply say no
You actually have the power to say no. Yes even to your boss. So many times we are afraid of the ramifications of telling our boss no I can’t do that. Yeah, it may make the person you tell no a bit mad but the purpose isn’t to please them but for our own benefit.
Saying no helps if you have a set of priorities lined out. If it interferes with your priorities then you can confidently say no thank you.
Find a Hobby
A hobby is a wonderful way to shift gears. Instead of being swamped by the crushing todo ist you can slow down and focus on a passion that really lights your fire. Yeah, it can cost some money but if it allows you to feed your soul then you are able to focus on the other more pressing stuff.
Talk to someone
This will help you to find the needed support for those really difficult times. Be it your best friend, wife, or coach. You can find someone who will listen. If you’re in a men’s group you can even find someone who was in the same situations you were and can give your hints on how to get past that hang up.
Many times with too much on our hands we believe we are the only ones who can handle the problem. That simply isn’t true. Your ego may be getting in the way. So try to offload some of that huge to-do list and give it to someone else. Especially if they are working in their zone of genius. It can also show your boss that you do know how to delegate and could lead to a promotion.
Sometimes you just need to 86 something. It isn’t going to hurt you to dump something that 1) you have no interest in and 2) isn’t forwarding your goals. If it isn’t helping you then dump it. You really won’t miss it
So as you can see most of the burnout comes from you not having time to yourself your goals and priorities could be out of whack that really is causing more resistance than it needs to. SO find something that is not in your wheelhouse and either give it to someone else or drop it entirely. Get outside and walk. This clears your mind and opens you up for more possibilities.
So step back and breathe. You will live longer and be happier.