What is Burnout?
Keeping a healthy work-life balance is difficult enough, but, adding a pandemic to the mix only adds to the stress. Tending to our responsibilities remotely as well as trying to maintain a social life and alone time is something we all have had to adjust to. Here are some of the signs of burnout, and how to resolve it.
What is Burnout?
First of all, what is burnout? Burnout is the physical, emotional, or mental state of exhaustion due to the prolonged stress of constantly having to meet demands. The result of burnout is losing motivation and passion for what you love to do.
Everyone’s symptoms of burnout are different, and they can manifest themselves physically, emotionally, and behaviorally.
- Headaches or migraines
- Muscle tension
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling overwhelmed and anxious
- Sense of failure or not being good enough
- Not being able to finish tasks
- Maladaptive coping mechanisms
My Personal Burnout Experience
Seeing as I am a full time student, working part-time, and have an internship all during a pandemic, I am no stranger to the feeling of being burnt out. My personal symptoms of burnout would be tiredness and fatigue, loss of motivation, increased feelings of depression, crippling anxiety and feeling overwhelmed at the thought of completing a simple task. The first time I experienced burnout was in high school. I was in orchestra, taking AP classes, and was in 3 clubs. I was constantly on the go, pulling all-nighters, and not allowing myself the proper rest. The burnout came sophomore year, a time when I was feeling particularly unmotivated. I would procrastinate the smallest tasks, started dreading classes and club meetings, felt anxious more times than not, and felt as though I wasn’t good enough. Because I didn’t know how to cope with these feelings, I allowed it to spiral into a depression instead of addressing and validating my feelings.
Burnout During the Pandemic
Having to live through a pandemic has been hard on all of us. The transition from in-person to remote learning, businesses closing, and loved ones possibly being affected by the virus has taken its toll. We basically had a year of constant bad news, of course we are bound to start carrying around the weight of the events happening around us.
Students all around the world had to make the transition from in-person to remote learning. Many of my friends described remote learning as essentially teaching yourself, which could be frustrating and confusing. It also took a lot of self-discipline to get schoolwork on time. Especially considering that during quarantine, our usual stress-relief outlets like sports, clubs, and hanging out with friends were not possible. During a time of increased lack of motivation, it was hard for many students to stay on top of school work.
Whether you were on unemployment, an essential worker, or on furlough, navigating the workforce during the pandemic has also added to the persistent stress of the past year. Businesses have been struggling to stay afloat, and finding a job has been made that much more difficult. It is easy to lose motivation when it comes to finding a job, staying up-to-date with bills, and providing for yourself and your family.
On top of just trying to stay afloat, there has been a lot of fear dwelling on us concerning our health. Now more than ever we are conscious of staying sanitary and safe for our own health and the health of our loved ones.
These are all valid and common factors that can add to feeling mentally and emotionally drained. If you are currently feeling burnt out, I have some tips that I use that have helped me through this troubling time.
How To Overcome Burnout
Keep in mind, feeling burnt out does not mean you don’t love what you do. It simply means that your mind and body need a break.
When you find yourself feeling burnt out and exhausted:
- Take a well-deserved break from the things that are causing you stress
- Indulge in stress-free hobbies
- Try journaling
- Reach out to friends and family
How To Prevent Burnout
Overcoming an episode of burnout is important, but it is crucial to learn how to prevent burning out in the future. It is easy to get trapped in a cycle of overworking yourself, recovering, and doing it all over again. Here are some tips that can be implemented into your life to prevent burning out.
Treat Yourself Like A Friend
You would never tell your friend or loved-one that they aren’t working hard enough and that they don’t deserve rest. So, why would you say that to yourself? Treat yourself with kindness and compassion and allow yourself to take breaks. Deadlines are important, but not more important than your mental health.
Acknowledge Your Successes
It’s easy to finish a task and go right on to the next one. However, take time to reflect. Acknowledge your accomplishments and reward yourself from time to time when you complete a task.
Regular Self Check-Ins
Stress and anxiety can manifest itself physically. Pay attention to your body. If you are feeling particularly high-strung or overly tired, you may be on your way to a burn out. Catch the signs early and give yourself a break when needed.
A major contribution to feeling stressed and overwhelmed is not having a clear idea of what needs to be done or how to do it. Getting a planner or using digital apps to help you keep track of what needs to be done takes the guesswork out of completing your tasks.
Take the time everyday, even if it’s only for an hour, to allow yourself to relax and recuperate. Taking care of yourself is not a privilege that is only reserved to vacations every couple of months. Your body has a right to rest every day.
- Continue journaling, whether you’re feeling good or bad, to check in with yourself
- Meditation and yoga
- Organize your space
- Take a leisurely walk
- Take a nice bubble bath
These daily habits and acts of self care may seem small, but implementing them into your daily life can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. You would be surprised at how much journaling, taking a walk, or exercising brightens my mood and clears my head. I make sure to be intentional about my thoughts, not allowing stress to infiltrate these precious moments. It allows my mind and body a break from the commitments and responsibilities I need to tend to.
Never feel ashamed about feeling burnt out or unmotivated, especially during this time. These feelings are much more common than you think they are. We all need to cut ourselves a little slack when it comes to navigating a pandemic while also trying to navigate our lives in general. You, your feelings, and your experiences are valid. Hopefully these tips help you overcome a current bout of burnout and prevent future ones from happening.