Burnout doesn’t social distance.
Take a moment now to not just open your eyes but to truly observe. Look around you. It's everywhere. Concealed behind forced smiles or revealed via downward cast eyes. There may be signs of tears. These tears may be yours even. They may belong to a family member or even a stranger you pass in slow-moving traffic. If you are an empath, you may even feel a noticeable shift in energy. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. It’s horrid.
I’m talking about burnout, and it's out, and about having a whale of a time – no social distancing here, it’ll get right up in your personal space and try to infect you. I saw a snippet on TV the other day that was rather silly but hit home nonetheless. It was an ad where a present-day character was having a conversation with his future self. I can’t recall it word for word, but the just of it went something like this:
"In your future, there will be no hugging, and there will be compulsory hand sanitizer wherever you go. You won't be allowed to visit anyone outside your household – not your family, not your friends, not your work colleagues. Instead, you will converse with them via ZOOM. It's like Skype, except it actually works. And you will be doing no travel whatsoever. Oh, and you will wear a mask when you leave your home. This will carry on for close to a year, maybe longer. Lockdown and social distancing…I'm not even going to begin to explain that. And did I mention everyone in the world will be doing this?”
What really struck me is just how sci-fi this all sounded – what would I have thought if my future self had told me this? I don’t think I would have believed future-me for a second. And yet, it has been our extremely bizarre reality. Everyone’s reality – the whole wide world – how utterly bizarre when you step back from it for a moment and truly digest this phenomenon.
Isolation, working from home, lost income, bumping elbows. This stress, this oddness, this feeling of anxiety and uncertainty is the breeding ground for potential burnout. Pre-COVID, burnout was mainly assigned to work stress; however, it's become more complex than that. While burnout develops due to stress, it is generally more long-term than ‘stress’ as we know it.
Burnout is having a pandemic field day – it can infiltrate all these new challenges and stresses our lives have (unwillingly) had to take on. So if you are feeling burnt out, please know that you are not alone. While we were (or are – depending on where you hail) isolating, burnout has become quite the socialite at this worldwide life event.
BUT. It is what it is. It doesn’t mean we have to give into it. So, let’s take it on. Get over here, burnout – we want to look you in the eye and take YOU down!
First – figure out where you are, so you know where you need to be.
Recognise the signs of burnout. In yourself and in others.
Unexplained, sustained fatigue
Reduced creative ability
Anger management issues
Ineffectiveness with work
Loss of joy with things that usually feel good
And so much more. It is very personal and covers a wide range …
Some suggestions on how to manage and even prevent burnout.
2. Recognise your potential breaking point and be fiercely protective of your boundaries to prevent that tipping point – this includes managing your hours when working from home. Shut down when it’s ‘home’ time, and then ignore your desk and phone. No is a full sentence. What or who do you need to let go, surrender or say NO to?
Some of my current inspirational authors and podcasters:
What are yours?
And … as simple and hard as it sounds, laugh! If you don’t have it in you to laugh, then force a gentle smile. You’ll be amazed at just how effective this simple practice is. Smile right now – come on…I know you wanna.