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  • Writer's pictureJulie Lawson

5 Things That Are Burning You Out

Feeling burned out? Find yourself dangerously close to resigning, or perhaps just quietly quitting? You're not alone. Depending on the study you read, upwards of 40% of American workers are burned out.

Burnout isn't uncommon following a difficult time, and we've had our doozies: a pandemic, tense political climate, and financial concerns, just to start. It's enough to stress anyone out and we're feeling it in good measure. But there are specific practices, behaviors, and circumstances that may be making it worse, and these things are in your control. Here are the top five plaguing my clients:

  1. You don't do well with change. Most people don't love change, but it's an inevitability of life. And the past two years have brought a lot of unwelcomed change. Your mind has to catch up to everything you've experienced, and that takes time and patience. Think about the tension you feel around a change you are experiencing: what feelings does it bring up? What sensations are in your body? What fears do you have about the change, and what are you afraid you will lose? Once you gain insight into these things, as yourself this important question: what will it take for me to accept this change? Start doing that. You don't have to like it, but accepting what is occurring will relieve much of the resistance you feel to the change.

  2. You lack healthy boundaries. Have trouble saying no? Me too! Most of us want to be helpful, to serve our families, colleagues, and communities. When faced with a request for your time that may push you over your limit, ask these questions: Am I the best (or only) person who can do this thing? Will it significantly damage an important relationship if I don't do this? Will I be ok with the loss of time or focus this will cost me? If the answer to these questions is "yes," do what is requested of you. Otherwise, politely decline.

  3. You get poor - or not enough - sleep. You've heard it - we need 6-8 hours of good sleep to operate optimally. I know, that's too much for our busy schedules...but our bodies aren't based on the 21st century. Our DNA knows what it needs, and for our bodies to have adequate rest. This goes for all of your health: if something is out of balance, you will not have the energy to keep up with your responsibilities. Take care of your body!

  4. You have untreated (or under-treated) anxiety or depression. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you may be more susceptible to burnout because you are already fighting an uphill battle for emotional and mental wellness. You are not alone: millions of adults struggle with mental health concerns and benefit from the transformative treatments available. If you are struggling, make an immediate appointment with a therapist and/or health care provider to explore your treatment options. Your mental wellness is imperative to staying focused and productive.

  5. You have trouble balancing work and life. This is the most-reported reason for burnout, and it's a difficult one. In today's busy and technology-driven world, people can access us anywhere. It's hard to turn things off. Focus on work/life integration instead. What can you do throughout the day to keep your peace? Will a 10-minute meditation help you get through the rest of the day? Will answering that email at 7 pm help you sleep better? Do what works for you! There is too much pressure on exact practices (i.e., clocking out at exactly 5 pm) rather than what works best for each individual to be optimally productive.

However you choose to address burnout, take some time to develop a plan. Many who have changed jobs in the past 24 months are not happy with the results, because the problem wasn't their work (or their home life). It was the overwhelming sense of burnout they were experiencing. Develop a plan that includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components so you feel completely balanced. Dedicate time to each of these areas on a daily or weekly basis. And most importantly, stick with what works for you.

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