I’m exhausted. My need to do anything but read a book and lay in bed all day is what I dream about. I can’t focus. My brain is a mess of anxious thoughts and the things that once used to fire me up no longer excite me. Any doctor looking in from the outside would label me depressed, give me a handful of pills and wish me luck. The thing is though, I’m not depressed. How do I know this? Because for the past two years I’ve gone three hundred miles an hour without looking back, afraid if I did, I would lose momentum. I broke off an eight-year relationship, moved twice, once to a new city, moved in with my now boyfriend, started a new job and then another. I convinced myself it was for the best. I was building a life that I should be proud of. Keyword: should. But a creeping sense of un-fulfillment and bone-deep weariness made me second guess everything.
It got the point where counting down the hours until 5 pm became my only objective. I didn’t understand. Isn’t this what your life is supposed to look like? A 9-5 with a decent salary, health insurance, a caring boyfriend, an apartment in the heart of the city, and a lovable dog that treated your socks like chew toys. Why wasn’t I happy?
It came as a whisper and built into a scream – You’re not living your life. You’re living someone else’s. My need for validation from the outside world veered me onto a dead-end path, leaving me with nothing but a profound case of burnout. Typically this is the part of the story where I tell you I quit my job and went on a soul quest around Europe. I fell in love and am now happier than ever. Uh yeah, not quite. I’m still very much in the middle of my recovery, taking each day as it comes. What’s important to remember during this period is to be gentle with yourself. If you can’t complete your to-do list, it’s okay. It will always be there tomorrow.
Signs of Burnout
Bone deep exhaustion. No matter how much sleep you get, you can’t seem to get enough. Every available surface looks comfortable enough to take a nap on.
Lack of concentration. Imagine ADD but on steroids. You can’t complete a project or assignment without doing a million things in between. Work begins to pile up.
Anxiety. You’re on edge and feel an external sense of dread as if you’re about to get hit by a bus at any moment.
Loss of enjoyment for the activities and hobbies you once loved. Cooking and or hanging with your friends seem more like a chore than something you actually want to do.
Anger or Irritability. Calling the people you once viewed as lovely human beings idiots inside your head whenever they open their mouths.
Don’t freak out if any of the signs above resonated with you. You might be in the early stages of burnout and simply weren’t aware. That’s normal. In our society, it’s rare to slow down enough to recognize when our bodies are crying out for help. The good news is that the sooner you recognize you’re in the throes of burn out, the sooner you can begin to heal. Download my guide, How To Recover From Burnout in Five Easy Steps, below and get started on the path to becoming you again.