If you’ve been following the headlines, chances are you’ve come across the latest news concerning the concept of burnout. The World Health Organization has recently classified burnout as an official medical diagnosis.
What is burnout? Most of us are familiar with the term. These days we know exactly what someone means when they say they’ve reached the brink of burnout. It’s more than just being exhausted or stretched too thin. Burnout is the feeling of complete and total overwhelming exhaustion due to prolonged stress. Basically, it’s the feeling of your battery life never hitting green. You’re always on red. Functioning at 10% is now normal and you can’t even remember what it feels like to operate at 100%.
Burnout has taken over many people’s lives. It’s now become completely normal to hear a friend, a colleague, or a loved one confess that they’re struggling with burnout. In fact, a recent study by Gallup showed that in a poll of 7500 workers, 23% of the workers reported feeling burnt out all the time and a shocking 44% felt burnt out sometimes.
Not sure if you’re struggling with burnout? Here are some of the tell-tale symptoms:
- Lack of concentration and/or focus
- Increased cynicism, disillusionment or apathy towards your job
- Emotional and/or physical distress or pain (stomach aches, headaches, back pain, etc)
- Numbness (and using food or controlled substances to feel)
- Exhaustion and extreme fatigue paired with the inability to be productive
Here’s the facts on how burnout is affecting us:
- 52% of U.S. office workers report that they’re stressed out at work.
- 28% of employees report missing three to six days of work per year due to stress.
- 71% of adults ages 18-30 have heard the term “burnout” and what it means.
The bottom line? You’re worn out. You can’t seem to recharge back to even 80% of your battery life. You have nothing left to give. You’re dragging. You feel dead inside. You’re burnt out.
Why Is the Fire Going Out?
How did we get here? 10, 20 years ago, terms like “burnout” weren’t a thing. Now, it’s become more typical for people to express feelings of resentment, numbness and depression in their lives. Burnout has become an epidemic and it’s spreading like wildfire.
Technology has made our lives so much easier…but in other ways it’s made us captives. These days we’re more connected to each other than ever. We can reach out, contact and connect to anyone we want to, anywhere in the world. We can text people, DM them, FaceTime, email– everyone is at our disposal on demand! We don’t realize how glancing down at our phones, scrolling, or responding to a notification or an alarm can sap our energy- but it can!
People have greater expectations of others than ever before. Everyone wants more. They want to go faster, have more and do more. The bar is constantly raised higher.
Everything else may be speeding up and increasing but one thing will always remain the same: TIME!
Time isn’t expanding for anyone. I have the same 24 hours a day as I did when I was 28 and 18. And so you do.
How Do We Reignite the Flame?
So, how do we find our spark again? How do we re-commit to our passions and get fired up about our day-to-day lives again?
Here’s four simple things that have helped me and others get fired up:
1. Shift your environment.
The people and situations we surround ourselves with play an important part of our energy levels. We all have those people in our lives who have amazing energy! The minute we’re near them we feel uplifted and energized. There are also people and circumstances that completely suck the life out of us.
Choose your environment wisely! If you want more energy to flow into your life, remove the people and things that run you dry.
If you have a spouse, friend, mentor, colleague or a loved one that gives you energy, uplifts you and helps you level up– do me a favor and thank them today!
2. Manage your waterfall.
Here’s my definition of the ‘waterfall’:
WATERFALL: The never-ending, bottomless to-do lists in our lives.
The waterfall is the constant to-do lists that never seem to have an ending. I have about 50 separate lists of things to do in my life and I feel like I’ll never reach the bottom of those lists because they just keep getting longer and longer.
I have a lot of lists. I have task lists, project management lists and to-do lists. I’m never going to remember everything that has to get done on those lists, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to either. Instead, manage your lists like this:
Create TWO lists:
- On the first list put THREE of your most important tasks that need to get done that day.
- Put everything else on the second list!
What you’ve done is created two lists that are manageable and realistic; these are the guardrails of your waterfall. This is what will prevent you from drowning.
You’ve blocked out the times when you’re accessible and you’ve prioritized the most important things that need to get done. This is a list that you can reasonably handle in a day.
3. Get in alignment with your natural talents and gifts
Pay close attention because this might be the most important factor on this list!
Last year I did a Ted Talk about finding your “meant to”- loosely defined as your calling in life, the thing you were put here on this planet to do. In less than a year it’s nearing the ½ million views mark. When you think about it, that’s pretty incredible! That means that there are nearly 500,000 people who can resonate with the feeling of doing what they’re supposed to do, as opposed to what their meant to do.
One of the biggest causes of burnout? Not living a life of alignment! When you’re living out of alignment, you’re going through the motions. You’re unfulfilled. You’re totally depleted of the kind of energy that motivates you and you’re not operating at your highest frequency. Doesn’t this sound a lot like burnout?
For those of you out there who feel like you’re always on the go, you’re constantly working, moving about, on the move– but not making the progress you think you should be making– I’m talking to you! This is especially common for people who feel like they’re running at top speed on the treadmill, putting in a good amount of miles of what they’re supposed to do, rather than what they’re meant to do.
It may not be entirely your fault! Burnout often comes from chasing a life that doesn’t align with your organic gifts and talents. In my experience, when you work within your unique talents you’ll find that you’ll recharge effortlessly from within. The more you tap into your talents and use them, the more you’ll find that you’re re-charging just from living passionately! Doing the work that you were placed here to do doesn’t require additional refueling. When you’re out of alignment, your body knows. If you feel physically and mentally drained you might be out of sync. Focus on what you’re meant to be doing.
4. Know yourself.
When you get right down to it, you need to learn what you need to recharge. Everyone recharges in their own way. A big part of coping with burnout is self-discovery and spending time learning what works for you.
Do you need a day? A week? A month, or even a year? Take the time you need to get juiced up- and do it!
Here’s some tips to help you recharge:
- Start your day out strong with an intentional music playlist. It’s a great way to ground yourself, set your mood and pace for the day ahead.
- Spend some time in nature! Take a hike, explore a beautiful beach or use your lunch break to get some sunshine.
- Add something to your calendar that you’ll look forward to! By always having something coming up soon that you are excited about, you can’t stay stuck in the monotony of all the things you have to do, and will always make time for the stuff you get to do!
What’s one thing you do to combat burnout? Let me know in the Comments.