QUIZ: Are your Burnt Out?
This article is important to read for 3 reasons
You could be experiencing a burn out (even if you don’t know it yet)
You could experience one in the future and knowing the signs is going to make it a whole lot easier to deal with it when it happens
You could really help someone who is burning out
‘Burn out’ Definition
I feel the need to define this because I literally didn’t know what burning out was until I burnt out and my friend had to send me the Google definition!
Different sources will define ‘burn out’ differently but from my personal experiences it is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress - but is not stress. It is when you feel stuck in an unenjoyable situation for a long or intense period of time, where you cannot wait for it to be over yet everyday you spin cycles thinking about it over and over again with little resolution. There is simply too much of a gap between what you want and what you have.
For me, I went through a long period of being unhappy with my job but it wasn’t just the job itself, it was also me feeling like the life I was living was empty and didn’t have much meaning. Overtime, this became a big issue for me and led to my burn out.
“Being burnt out left me feeling drained and negative, with nothing left to give - emotionally, physically, mentally.”
It zaps your energy across all aspects of your life - home, work and social. It is not long before your physical wellbeing is affected. “I’ve experienced severe burnout in my life and am currently managing the impacts of chronic exhaustion and pain.” - Courtney Foon. In my case, I became full of body aches and pain but others may experience other illnesses like colds, digestive issues and skin changes etc. I agree with Courtney where she knows “from experience that if burnout is not recognised, it can manifest into many other forms that affect our energy, wellbeing, inner health and outer health”. Because of the negative effects of burning out, it is important to recognise it and deal with it right away.
How the Mirosuna community describe burning out
“Burnout is when you are crying at work or about work everyday…nothing is wrong but you are so emotionally drained and you’re still being pulled from all sides. I stopped drinking because it is a depressant and I needed clarity. Also since leaving the industry that caused my burnout, I have learnt to say no and included non-negotiables.” - Vanessa from Sydney
“Burn out is when you get frustrated a lot and feeling like you’ve had enough!” - Erin from Melbourne
Quiz - Am I burning out?
Do you feel exhausted?
Even if you have a lot of energy throughout your day, exhaustion may be an undertone that you feel in your life. Take a second and answer this question to yourself, truthfully.
Do you wake up every day thinking about all the work you have to tick off as opposed to all the things you’re looking forward to doing today?
Do you feel more sensitive lately?
Little things and people set you off or upset you more than they usually would. You may find yourself crying/teary more often.
Do you feel sad - This is a very deep question. Do you feel sad about your situation and your life right now?
When someone asks you ‘How are you?’, does your heart sink and you reply ‘good’ but deep down, you know you don’t feel it.
Do you feel like you have nothing else to give - physically, emotionally, mentally?
Do you feel like your spirit is broken?
Do you wish for things to be different right now?
Do you walk around thinking why do I have a black cloud over me?
Whilst you might feel grateful and happy in your life overall, feeling burnt out is a temporary chapter in your life that creates a cloud of negative emotion over the top. When I ask people ‘are your burnt out?’, a lot of them immediately deny it and say “No, I’m so grateful and happy with everything I have.” Let me repeat, feeling burnt out has nothing to do with how happy or grateful you are.
Are there some key things in your life that are causing you to be unhappy?
If you answered yes to a lot of the questions above, it may be a sign that you are burnt out. Through your answers, I hope you have been able to assess the level to which you are burning out. No matter how little or serious it is, you can start creating space for change and improve your situation.
Why practise mindfulness during a burn out?
I used to find it easier to practise mindfulness when I am happy and energetic because I have the motivation to try something new and push myself for growth. When in fact, I learnt that it is even more important to practise mindfulness when my times are rough. In my lowest moments, I needed to dig deeper than I ever have. I had to dig up all the courage, patience, motivation and grit inside of me to keep on going. I had to learn to do things differently and function even in the greatest discomfort. Everyday I needed to deploy all techniques possible to bring me back to my center and find ways to keep carrying on. Having a structured mindfulness practice helped me bounce back so much faster.
The reward of surviving a burn out
Having gone through it, there is nothing easy about it. It is tormenting, emotional and a painful experience but if you create space for change to strengthen and deepen your mindfulness practice in these challenging times, you will grow and change. The biggest leaps and bounds I have ever made as a person were when I was burnt out and really down. I look back and I am grateful for every lull that I’ve ever had in my life because I am a better person for it. I hope Mirosuna can support you throughout all your ups and downs in your life and support you on your journey.
10 Practical ways to deal with burn out
Map it out - First step is to gain clarity.
I firstly identify the source of it then I look for ways to deal with it. This requires time for self reflection and awareness. There could be a few things burning you out but some more than others.
Take the below as an example for ‘Andy’. Andy has been unhappy at work for a long time with a job that is not meaningful and way too demanding. Over time, this stress builds up and leads to exhaustion. This then causes him to lose interest in his life at home. The little time that he has at home, he is not present and everyone notices that he is unhappy. This fuels an unhealthy relationship with his wife and kids.
This is illustrated in the below where the big root cause is work but then it effects family and hence why the circles overlap. As a result of Andy’s unhappiness, he realises how he has no one to talk to and that no one understands him nor knows what is happening. This lack of support causes a great sense of loneliness and now has Andy questioning his support network. This is a side effect of his burn out and hence it is a circle on its own.
2. Double down on your support network - Figure out if you actually have people in your life that are truly supporting you and the person you are today. I say that because we grow and change throughout our life, our needs change and if we haven’t met new people then sometimes you might not have the right network to support you.
3. Make extra effort to sleep early - rest well because when you’re burning out, your sleep quality can be affected so you want to maximise your rest time
4. Practise positive actions of the mind, body and speech - This was crucial to my recovery. See my guide on how to do this and in particular the practise of gratitude, patience, self-nourishment. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
5. Reassess your goals - I realised for me, the outcome/goal I was seeking vs my reality were so far apart that it wasn’t even realistic. I re-evaluated my goals to map out what ones were realistic and achievable and within my control. I temporarily wrote off those that did not match this criteria.
6. Everyday, do something that sparks joy - Marie Kondo it! Start cleaning out your life, get rid of the activities that don’t bring you joy and everyday, make a conscious effort to do something that makes you happy. You will never get through this if you zombie your way through day after day with nothing to lift you up.
7. Break the cycle - Instead of staying in this cycle for 7 days in a row, allocate times to break the mould and do something completely different whether it is at night times or on the weekend. You are breaking the habit and creating a new environment for your brain to experience excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity and creativity. I break up my week with Squash with friends on Wednesdays. Despite how crazy my week has been and how bad I am at Squash, I spend an hour hitting it hard and laughing with good friends.
8. Acknowledge your vulnerabilities - Especially if you are a strong person who has their S**T together, it is hard to admit your vulnerabilities. This was like me too, only in the last few years did I start to realise what my vulnerabilities were and feel fine about them. Everyone has them, you can’t get rid of them by sweeping them aside so step up, be bold and own them! It’s OK not to be OK.
9. Stop taking on more - Things are really overwhelming when you’re burning out so stop taking on more. If something comes up or something needs your attention or commitment, ask yourself can it wait? Can you let this opportunity pass and
10. Balance - “Diet. Rest. Yoga. Nature. Working out priorities in your business, what is and isn’t achievable. Minimum outlay for maximum impact. Scheduling time for your own self care and journaling.” says Kitty from Melbourne.
I hope you were able to gain some more insight on what a burn out is and how you can help yourself and others experiencing this. We all experience so many ups and downs in life and the trick is not to sweep the bad ones under the rug but instead we want to face them head on, with strength, wisdom, boldness and positivity. This is the Mirosuna Way.