A few years ago, I finished speaking at an HR Conference, and it was a great event. Two weeks after the meeting, I got an email from someone who was in attendance, “Sam, your speech was awesome. It got me all fired up, motivated, inspired, and ready to take positive action. However, I feel like I am back to how I was before the event. I think the fire went out.”
I responded by asking if he had ever gone camping.
“Yes, I have.”
“Well, part of the camping experience is the campfire. But let me ask you this, who is responsible for keeping that fire going so it doesn’t burn out?”
“I get it, I am.”
Let’s be real, the fire does burn out. We get burned out. I remember coming off a long road trip and I told my wife, “I think I hit my wall and the wall hit me at the same time.” Meaning, I was burned out.
In the professional world, you don’t hear a lot about rest, recharging, and rekindling your mental and physical health. Mostly because there is a lack of understanding of how to measure and monitor the burnout process. But, if you do not make wellness a priority, you will be forced to deal with the consequences of illness. Think about that for a second. When you burn out, you lose focus, you forget important things, you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. Stress has built a fortress in the back of your neck. Do you know that feeling?
Maybe you are a parent and after a long day at work, a new day starts when you get home and have to manage family or personal life. Long work hours, a heavy workload, and life’s responsibilities can sift out your fire. Your fire is your focus, mental and physical fuel, and good feelings. When you are in a state of burn out, even after sleeping through the night, have you ever noticed you wake up feeling more tired and more exhausted?
Have you ever had a long day and instead of going home and making a healthy dinner, you get into a burn out habit of grabbing something convenient and quick, which may not be healthy? And then you start skipping out on taking care of yourself. You missed going to the gym three nights in a row, so you negotiate with yourself and tell yourself you will work out all day on Saturday. But you don’t because you are exhausted.
Burnout doesn’t go away like heart burn. There are some steps you need to take to keep your good energy.
Okay, so let’s identify the symptoms of burnout.
Burnout has a way of creeping up on us. Burnout is a builder and without a way to release the constant flow of stress and demands, it will feel like you hit a wall, or the wall hit you —metaphorically.
1: Unable to perform job well
You are unable to manage your schedules, tasks, and workload due to a lot on your plate. You start feeling benumbed about your work in such an environment.You also start losing interest in your job.
2: Always feeling tired
You feel drained most of the time both physically and emotionally. You can feel headaches, muscle pains or twitches, stomach and bowel problems, disturbance in your sleep wake cycle, and a changed or reduced appetite.
3: Reduced performance
Due to lack of energy, you might feel exhausted at your job or home because your energy is drained completely. So, you are unable to perform everyday tasks.
You can’t take care of your responsibilities. You cannot focus, and your creativity or productivity is also reduced.
4: Emotional symptoms
You may feel a sense of self-doubt, start procrastinating, feel detached and isolated, start thinking with a negative perspective, and lose motivation or your fire.
5: Behavioral symptoms
Your fuse or patience with situations and others becomes shorter. You start taking your frustrations out on others. You begin to take short cuts with your work. You lose interest in others. You criticize and complain more. Maybe, your solution is to engage in a habit that isn’t healthy for you.
Be mindful if someone says, “You don’t seem like yourself.” That is a sign that stress may be taking over your personality and life.
So, how can you prevent burn out or reignite your fire if it burns out?
Here are a few suggestions to manage burn out:
Practice the pause
One of my mentors says, “Sam, you need to practice the pause.”
His advice is to pause, be mindful, be in the moment, and completely focus on rekindling your energy and positive spark.
I will point out this is way easier said than done. A few years ago, my family took a vacation, but it took me three or four days to finally get out of work mode, let things go, and actually practice the pause. When you choose to do what is healthy for you, you are becoming healthy for your family and those you serve through the work you do.
If you have colleagues who have a negative mindset or are always complaining, try to maintain a distance from them. They will make you like them. Surround yourself with like-minded and meaningful people that will keep you fresh and take you to the next level.
If you are not sleeping adequately, your mental and physical health will be disturbed drastically. You can get vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression thus giving rise to burnout.
So, get proper sleep if you want to avoid burnout.
Find someone to talk too
Having regular sessions with a therapist can be a good option to alleviate your burnout symptoms. Don’t hold it in, find someone you can discuss the web of stress in your life and seek solutions to unwind, relax, and recharge.
Have a trust buddy
If there is someone you trust and can be real with, this is a gift from above. It is so relieving to be able to discuss what is real with someone that won’t judge you or pelt you with opinions afterwards. This one is my favorite.
MOVE. Move to some music. It is scientifically proven that 20-30 minutes a day of walking, working out, or doing a healthy activity relieves stress. When you work out, you actually relax your body, mind and muscles, and relive your stress thus relieving burnout.
If you can take a vacation or get a way for a few days, go for it. If things are a little tight financially, plan a stay-at-home vacation. These are my favorites. They involve movies, snacks, and naps.
The bottom line is you must determine what works best for you. In doing this, you are taking care of yourself. Don’t ignore the signs of burnout, but rather do your best to be proactive and take steps that help you recharge. If you are in a leadership role, pay attention and listen. If you notice someone is feeling overwhelmed and heading in the direction of burnout, encourage them, offer empathy, and as I suggest to all great leaders, ask, “What can I do that would help you best?”
Planning an event for your team, group, or company? Add some inspiration and optimism by hiring Sam Glenn as a guest speaker. To inquire, email Sam Glenn’s booking office, Contact@SamGlenn.com
Photo Credit: Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash