Monday, September 17, 2012

Rising Like A Phoenix From Burnout

Burnout affects you in every area of life: food doesn't taste as good, people are not as much fun, memories are reduced to 'the time when I was happy' and 'the times when I was hurt.' Burnout is depression, disappointment, anger and sadness run together until you have no passion left. You're just here, and where you want to be is there, and no road seems to connect the two. The 'stuckness' and frustration that comes with burnout can be deadly when you decide it will never end. People have taken their own lives because they couldn't face another day of getting nowhere. As soon as you realize you are in a burnout situation, take steps to address it. Get professional help if you need it. These tips can also help.

  • Stabilize. First, take immediate steps to stop the freefall into emotions like anxiety, apathy, and depression with nourishing and fun activities. Get a massage. Take a nap. Take a day off and spend time with friends and family. Eat good food and get a little exercise, preferably outside in the sun. Even if you don't 'feel like' doing something social or nourishing, do it anyway. Getting out of the cage of disappointment and apathy is like opening a window in a stuffy room--at first it seems less cozy, but then that fresh air kicks in and you feel invigorated.
  • Prioritize. Burnout robs you of your energy and will to complete. . .anything. Accept the fact that you may be even less productive for a few weeks or months as you refill your creative well. Make room to recover by ruthlessly cutting as many things as possible from your calendar. Make rebuilding your emotional bank account, maintaining your health, and strengthening your social and family life your top priority.
  • Get real. Honestly face the things that are not working--make a list. Do something positive to correct them. Even if the action ends up being less than ideal, movement begets movement. Movement with honest assessment eventually equals progress. Once you are on your way, you can correct your course. The important thing is taking that first step to get out of the hole.
  • Tackle and maintain.  Once you have a good idea of how you got on the burnout train, roll up your sleeves and do-but in manageable hunks. Overwork may have contributed to your burnout. Deliberately underschedule yourself. Really question each commitment you have. Is it really critical for you to make dinner each night? What if you make extra two nights a week for instant leftovers, or got healthy take-out? Can you delegate any of your work to someone who enjoys the task more or is better at it? Hire help for anything you can, or barter with a friend--which has the added benefit of social interaction. Remember, it's more important to get where you are going than to get there fast. 
Burnout can affect anyone who stops finding fulfillment in their day-to-day life. Revisiting your goals, and following these tips can help you climb out of the burnout hole!

Photo by teresa green

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