Burnout is something that can come on fast or happen so slowly you don’t see it coming. I have to be honest, I love what I do deeply, but that doesn’t mean that once in a great while, I don’t feel like putting down the scissors and walking out of the building and curling up in the back seat of my car.
When it’s worse for me is usually before or after a vacation, turning my vacation into recovery instead of rejuvenation. And because I stack my clients up like pancakes when I get back, any fresh creative juices taste like sour grapes by the end of the first day back. What is burnout anyway, and how can you recognize it when it’s happening?
Here are some of top signs:
Everyone and everything around you is getting on your last nerve.I love my clients. I love our time together, so when I’m feeling cranky, I first acknowledge it to myself, I take some deep breaths, I maybe even go for a quick walk (no matter how busy I think I am), and instead of speeding up when I return, I take things at a more manageable pace and try to connect with my clients, because it’s that human connection that drives me in what I do.
You are drained of all energy. Your job should be fun! It should give you energy, not leave you feeling drained. My calendar and my schedule are one of the most important tools in my arsenal. I know that in order to give my best, I can’t pack it too full, something I have done in the past because I’m a pleaser. But I’m doing no one any favors when I’m burnt out.
There is no work/life balance. How often do you get to have a meal with the people you care about most? Do you know what’s happening in their lives? Or have you been too busy thinking about work? Or maybe between work and family, you haven’t taken any time for yourself.
Work is all you think about. What has worked for you in the past to take your mind off of something? What things are you missing in the rest of your life because you’re always working on work? Do you bring work to dinner with friends or at your child’s soccer game? What is the worst that could happen if you left your phone in the glove box of your car so that you wouldn’t be distracted by texts, emails, or updates? How can you learn to leave work at work?
No one wants to be around you because you’re cranky. Have the people you care about stopped engaging with you? Have you said something you wish you hadn’t or snapped at someone that didn’t deserve it? Maybe it’s time to set boundaries at work, so that you can reconnect with the life you want and the people you love. No one ever says on their deathbed that they wished they’d have worked more.
You find yourself needing a drink or a weed gummy more than you used to, in order to wind down. Look, I love a good cocktail when I get home, but if one turns into three or four on a regular basis, it’s not going to help anyone or anything you’re experiencing. And there is nothing worse than trying to survive the next day with traces of a hangover, especially if it’s another workday. When I lived in New York, I used to joke that the city winds up every morning on copious amounts of coffee, and needs even more copious amounts of alcohol to wind down at the end of the day. It’s not the electricity that keeps things running. The problem with that on a personal level is that it’s not sustainable.
Now that I’m older and I live in a slower city, it’s all about spending time with my husband Steven and the dogs, doing my pilates, having a good book or listening to a podcast, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. If that sounds boring, so be it.
I’m writing this on a Saturday, still obsessing over some dumb thing at work this past week, though less than I was yesterday, but awareness is the first step. After this, I’m going to sit on our back patio, watch the rain, and just be.