Editor’s note: Life can be overwhelming at times. This we know for sure. We’re sharing this post, originally published in May 2020, to help you recognize times when you’re exhausted and take steps to move on to the other side.
You have to text Rachel today, I told myself. Oh, I don’t know, it can take fifteen seconds to send a text; those are some fingerprints on my phone that are most likely already on my hand. But I can not. The simplest tasks can paralyze me.
There’s an email — well, dozens of emails — I need to respond to, an article I’m five weeks past the deadline, tasks I’ve dropped because I can’t send a simple message. I am by no means a lazy person; I’ve been trying to overdo it since I took my break to help my teachers. Why play when I can grade the spelling test, why sit still and clear my mind when I can listen to the latest episode of The Daily, why doze off watching a mindless movie when i have a bunch New Yorkers magazines piled up next to my bed? It’s worked and continuously strengthens my millennial teams and me that every moment has to push us forward, make us smarter/more fit/wealther or do make the world a better or cleaner place.
Before all this Incidentally I have had over ten years working morning jobs, afternoon jobs and evening jobs, many of which double as weekend jobs, above all a trusted friend and a kind person and vote, contributor, informed member of the society. Ten years of answering the question “How are you?” with “busy” or “tired”. I’ve spent most of this pandemic sleeping, and for the most part I’m relieved and grateful for the forced downtime so I can catch up with my decades-long sleep deprivation.
My mental state depends on me being able to effectively and successfully clear tasks off my to-do list, but some to-dos are never crossed out because of the burden. all, every time has paralyzed me.
Some days I can do big things, but not small things. Some days, the little things push me to think I can accomplish the big things, and then I fall apart. My mental state depends on me being able to effectively and successfully clear tasks off my to-do list, but some to-dos are never crossed out because of the burden. all, every time has paralyzed me. Many of us live, and have lived for many years, with no clear boundaries as to when we turn on and off the clock. And we were exhausted.
Burnout is an elixir for burnout and chronic stress that benefits no one. So here, for the sake of our health and well-being, let’s start by recognizing burnout and combating it early.
5 Signs You’re Exhausted
1. You are tired. Really, really tired.
Burning burnout takes burnout to the next level. Ambiguous thinking, lack of motivation and easily excitable. Are you having trouble concentrating? Do you feel frustrated, more than usual? Hard to drag yourself out of bed in the morning? Your body knows it all; you just have to listen to it.
2. Your relationships are suffering.
When faced with burnout, some people may exploit their discomfort by lashing out at those around them. (Usually, it’s the one who deserves the least who suffers for it.) Others may withdraw or adjust. Pay attention to how you handle your relationships while burnout.
3. Your work performance is slipping.
Feeling unsatisfied, stuck, annoyed, without ambition, about it — that’s burnout. Before you quit, though, evaluate what you can do or anyone you can talk to to make things better. There is a difference between temporary boredom and long-term burnout.
4. You are experiencing chronic health problems.
When ignored for a long time, chronic stress can be directly linked to serious health problems like heart disease, digestive problems, and depression. It was never worth it.
5. You are not taking care of yourself.
Drinking too much alcohol at night, drinking too much coffee in the morning, and not getting enough sleep is one way to deal with burnout, but a terrible way to deal with burnout. Track your vices and how you use them when feeling stressed. For me, it was excessive napping; that’s my favorite avoidance technique. For you, it could be chain smoking or becoming sedentary.
5 steps to recovery from burnout
1. Take time to relax.
One flip side of pandemic life is that we’re all reminding ourselves of relaxing hobbies we haven’t made time for, whether it’s yoga, reading, puzzles, going for a walk. or join virtual happy hours. It’s important to have a corner of your life that isn’t work related and make time for it for no other reason than it makes you happy.
2. Unplug the plug.
Turn off your phone and go for a walk. Spend an afternoon in the woods digging up the slopes. Move the phone to another room during dinner. While our small hand-held robots feel essential to modern life, turning them off sets boundaries and streamlines your thought processes, since you’re free from this text, email that or other offensive news announcements.
3. Get enough sleep.
Sleep is the lifeline of everything. It is essential for memory, productivity, and overall mental function. Recovering from burnout requires you to replenish the resources you have to deal with stress, and sleep is number one.
4. Pay attention to your body.
Everyone and everyone body respond differently to chronic stress. My TMJ flares up when I’m especially stressed and I’ll stay in bed all day if I’m allowed. Some may experience headaches or shoulder strain. Maybe you have digestive problems or anxiety. It’s important to tune in to the physical signals your body is sending you.
5. Understand when something is your problem and when it is their problem.
Think about it: Is your burnout driven by internal factors, like social pressure, or external, like the need for more and fewer resources at work? Understand what’s causing you stress and with whom you need to work it out, whether it’s your boss or you.
Megan is a writer, editor, etc-er who muses about life, design, and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker and more. The rules in her life include, but are not limited to: a zipper on incorporation, cash tips, and contributions to your IRA. Be a friend and subscribe to her Night Vision newsletter or follow her on Instagram.