I am the type of person who wants to be great at what they want to do. I know I’m not a unicorn or special snowflake as I believe most people want to be great at what they do.
But what happens when that strive for greatness backfires? We get burnt out.
Burn out looks differently for everyone and the road to burn out is no different.
For some, it is our people pleasing getting in our way. We just can’t say no. No matter how hard we try or how badly we want to, it is just so ingrained to keep saying yes. This is especially bad for women – we are taught from such a young age that we are here to serve and that being liked is the be all and end all. Pretty much a message that we should say yes all the time. So our plate gets too full, too heavy.
For others, it is our need to overachieve, to be the best at what we do. But not only that, it is making sure other people know we are the best, our competitive nature. So we spread ourselves too thin doing great work but also spending the time to make sure those important people know just how hard we are working and how successful we are. We get so focused on success that our well-being is ignored.
And then there is those of us who don’t have those same internal struggles but who are working in a toxic environment. Either the whole company culture, our managers or our teams are just a poisonous environment. We are always walking on egg shells, adrenaline pumping, constantly in a state of “flight or fight”. We just can’t handle it anymore.
Three different paths, same destination. Burn Out.
How do I know if I’m Burnt Out?
Burn out is a state of chronic stress. It can manifest itself differently depending on the person and the situation, meaning that burn out can impact you physically or emotionally. It is a slow process, slowly building up until you just can no longer function properly anymore.
This is good news, as there are signs that can help you indicate whether or not you are on your way to a full-fledge burnout breakdown.
Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Burn Out
1. Lack of energy
Are you feeling tired or drained? Is it getting worse? Maybe it started out as just so exhausted at the end of the day and now you are depleted the whole day through? How is your sleep – is it fitful or are you experiencing some insomnia?
Are you experiencing more pain than usual – is your blood pressure higher, having heart palpitations or episodes of difficulty breathing? To get TMI on you, are you having any gastro issues – like increased constipation or episodes of diarrhea? Maybe you are getting sick ALL. THE. TIME. A new occurrence as you didn’t use to get every single cold, flu or stomach bug but now you are. For all of these, please go see your Doctor!!
3. Change in Appetite
This is different for everyone, depending on how they handle stress. Have you lost your appetite or has your appetite kicked into high gear? You either can’t even think about food or all you can think about is food!
4. Loss of Focus
Your attention span has vanished. No matter what you do you just can’t focus anymore and work begins to pile up.
5. Anxiety and Depression
This starts off mild. Maybe you feel on edge or little sad. Maybe the Sunday Blues start on Saturday and are a little bit more intense. Then it just gets worse from there. You start to experience panic when you wake up in the morning, or trapped with no way out. Sometimes depression doesn’t show up as sadness, it shows up as anger (especially in men), so if you went through a period of irritability that has grown into flat out anger at the world and quick to getting in arguments then this is a sign of burn out and depression. Again if sounds like you please seek out your Doctor!
6. Rock Bottom Self Esteem
We blame ourselves. It is our own fault we are feeling this way – if only we were better at saying no, or if only we were truly successful and live up to our own crazy aspirations or if only we can mold to our toxic’s bosses unrealistic expectations. So maybe you feel worthless, like you have no value to bring to the world.
What Burnout Can Look Like
We are really good at lying to ourselves. Plus the above 6 signs usually come on very slowly giving us the time to adapt to this “new norm”. So it can be hard to recognize those physical and emotional symptoms of burn out. But there are other signs and there are certain things we are doing in our lives that can indicate we are on our way to burning out.
1. You have put yourself on a deserted island
I’ve shared with you in the past a time when I hated my job so much that I isolated myself completely in the workplace. I avoided talking to people as much as possible. After a while, I didn’t want to see friends. I felt ashamed that I was still stuck at my job that I hated. This isolation led to detachment. Now this came real easy to me as it is a natural coping and defense mechanism of my INFJ personality type. So not only was I isolating myself but I was building walls around me. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
2. You feel like there is no point.
Are you turning into a cynic? You feel like even trying to change is worthless, what’s the point after all? You just can’t count on anything anymore. So why even bother. No one cares. The world is out to get you. There is no hope.
3. You Suck at Your Job
Well maybe not completely suck. But you are spread so thin that your performance isn’t measuring up. You are making mistakes, your creativity has taken a long vacation, your To Do list is just never ending and you can’t seem to get it under control.
Does any of this sound like you?
Then first, do you need to talk to your Doctor? If so, set up an appointment ASAP.
Next? Do Something. Anything. Pick one thing you can do this week to change your situation. If you need help; find a support system, set a call me with to chat or talk to someone.
Accept that it is time to change and make that your number one priority going forward.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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