BURNOUT: HOW TO SPOT IT, HOW TO RECOVER FROM IT AND WHAT WE’VE LEARNED FROM IT.
BURNOUT: HOW TO SPOT IT, HOW TO RECOVER FROM IT, AND WHAT WE’VE LEARNED FROM IT.
When you’re passionate about what you do and have a fire within you to succeed, more often than not, you’ll stop at nothing to get to where you want to be and achieve what you want to achieve. However, sometimes, with this pure grit and determination comes some not-so-great side effects, with one of them being burnout.
This happened to us at the beginning of this year. We’d barely had any time off when the opportunity came around for us to finally hold our first event. Which, of course, was fantastic and we knew we had to take it. However, it meant organising and hosting an event within 3 weeks, and when you put that on-top of everything else that was going on for us outside of GIW, we ultimately burned ourselves out.
We loved every second of planning, organising and hosting the event, and we couldn’t have been happier or prouder afterwards, but gosh did it take its toll. And it’s been one of the main reasons for our extended hiatus from running this site. We wanted to, we really did, but we no longer had the energy and had to accept that neither of us could do it all, and that we probably needed to give ourselves a break. We had to put our full-time jobs first, which unfortunately meant that Girls in Work had to take a little bit of a back seat for a while, just while we recharged.
It took us a little longer than we hoped, but as we mentioned in our previous post, we are back and feeling more focused and motivated than ever, and hopefully, the break will have done us a world of good and, if there’s anything we’ve learned from it ourselves, it’s that listening to your mind and your body is so important, and so is making sure you’re giving it what it needs. If your mind is telling you that it needs to slow down for a little while, let it!
So, what is burnout?
According to Very Well Mind:
Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterised by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability.
Or more simply, it’s when you start to feel exhausted and can’t seem to do the task at hand as well as you did it before. However, it’s important to remember that burnout doesn’t just have to apply to your job, but if you have too much going on in any part of your life for an extended period of time, then it’s inevitable that you’ll experience burnout at some point.
How do you know if you’re experiencing it yourself?
Well, you’ll probably stop putting in much effort to whatever it is that you’re doing. Whether that’s your job, your side hustle or your social life, it won’t excite you as much as it used to. If you’re struggling to muster up even the smallest amount of enthusiasm for something that you used to spend every minute thinking about, then this is a pretty big red flag that you probably need to put yourself first for a little while and look after your wellbeing.
If it is your job that is burning you out, you may notice that your performance is suffering. Burnout often hits high performers the most due to the amount of pressure they place on themselves, and so if you’re someone who’s attention to detail is normally impeccable, and who hits every deadline, but you find yourself suddenly making lots of mistakes and missing those deadlines, then there’s a possibility that this could be burnout, too.
This is also useful to know if you’re a manager. If you notice this happening to a member of your team, it may be helpful to have a conversation with them about what you can do to help, if they need to reduce their hours for a little while or simply take a few days off to recharge. Be kind, show them that you understand and have their best interests at heart.
Another obvious sign of burnout is that you feel exhausted. If you feel tired all of the time and getting out of bed is more of a struggle than normal, then this could be another red flag.
Burnout can also present itself physically as well as emotionally and mentally. You may find yourself having chest pains or feeling dizzy. It could be that you experience insomnia or constant headaches. You may find yourself feeling forgetful, losing your appetite or just feeling under the weather, but it’s important to remember that burnout can affect you in this way, too. Of course, these symptoms could be something else altogether, but paired with any of the above, it could be another sign from your body that something needs to change.
How do you recover from burnout?
Make sure you’re eating well and giving your body as much nutrients as possible. Keep yourself hydrated and, as cliche as it sounds, make sure that you’re doing a good amount of exercise. Keeping your body healthy is one of the first steps to keeping your mind healthy!
Rest. Give yourself plenty of time to rest. This may sound a little counterintuitive to exercise, but let your body (and mind) rest enough, too. Burnout comes from physical and mental exhaustion and so you need to let your body get out of its energy deficit.
Also, try and get a good night's sleep every night, and establish a really good evening routine that works for you - this will be particularly helpful if you’ve been experiencing some insomnia.
Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to what anyone else is doing. Comparison can be bad at the best of times, but even worse when you’re in need of a little TLC. remind yourself that in order to get back to being your best, you’ll need some time out every once in a while.
Similarly, don’t beat yourself up or make yourself feel guilty for slowing down! Your body has probably been trying to tell you to slow down for a while, so listen to it and again, accept that you need this in order to get back to being your best self. Do what you can, listen to your body and you’ll reap the long term gains.