Have you ever wished that you could catch a cold just so that you could give yourself a reason to take a few days off from it all?
It’s okay to admit it. Most of us have been there.
Needing our bodies to revolt just so that we can give ourselves permission to take the space we need to slow down, replenish, set it all down, and just breathe. Add in the stress of a pandemic, homeschooling, isolating, uncertain economic realities and it’s a wonder that we are still standing.
But do we really have to keep getting physically sick, burned out, before we give ourselves what we need? Or get to the point where we are seething silent resentment at all that we have to hold and do for the people at work or those we love at home? And then blow up or blow out because the pressure is just too much?
This is no way to operate in our day-to-day lives, but the truth is, many of us do. But there is a different option besides getting sick or lashing out to indicate that something is out of whack with how we are working, operating, and relating.
Consider this: what if we could see the warning signals that we are headed toward burnout or overwhelm before the pressure became too much or our body made us sick so we would have to slow down?
Did you know that your physical body is the last place “dis-ease” and the effects of overwhelm and burnout show up?
By the time you and I feel exhausted or foggy or show other physical symptoms, we’ve already depleted ourselves. The disease has rooted itself into our physical bodies and our mental thoughts, and it takes much longer to recover and return to a state of harmony, balance, and clarity.
I am a big fan of the power of words—they are like gateways to liberation. So let’s take a look at the word disease, not just as a physical symptom or a diagnosis, but as a state of “un-ease” within us.
Dis- means “apart.” Disease is to be apart from ease, apart from harmony. When we are more aware of the dis-ease within us, we see the following as signs we are headed toward burnout:
>> Emotionally in the form of anxiety and worry.
>> Mentally as negative self-talk, future tripping, and the inability to slow our thoughts at night.
>> Energetically in our nervous systems as frustration or feeling flooded.
Aware, then we become empowered to make changes sooner before becoming completely depleted or physically sick.
Recall a time you hit your wall, got sick, or crumbled under the pressure. Weren’t there signs that may have been subtle, but upon reflection, you can see how your whole system or parts of your system were overtaxed?
We tend to associate burnout with our physical body or mental state because those are the areas we’ve been taught to focus on. But there are at least eight kinds of burnout, only one of which is physical burnout.
These other kinds of burnout often show up before the signs of exhaustion and disease appear in our body.
About 10 years ago, I became aware that I had a “burnout cycle” that I was causing. Every three months, after giving my work my all, I get sick physically or feel completely defeated, like I wasn’t making a difference. If I had been tuning into my emotional and energetic bodies, I would have noticed much faster that I was starting to feel like a machine versus a human being and that I was lashing out at the people I loved the most—signals I was sliding into burnout.
When we can articulate what kind of burnout we are experiencing versus just saying we are burned out, exhausted, or overwhelmed, we are more empowered to see the root and get what we need before we get sick.
Here are the eight different kinds of burnout I found in my research. Take a read-through and consider which one you may be experiencing now. Note if you are like me, you have likely experienced many, but that’s okay. It’s just not okay we keep accepting the burnout as the way we work and give.
The Eight Kinds of Burnout
- Mental burnout. My mind cannot process anymore; it’s fried.
- Emotional burnout. These heavy or anxious emotions are exhausting me.
- Compassion burnout. I cannot hold any more loving space for anyone else; I’m tapped.
- Relational burnout. I’ve been over-giving to others, my organization, or my community/family, and I am over it.
- Survival burnout. I’m exhausted from trying to make ends meet and stay afloat.
- Superwoman burnout. The weight of taking on so much is too much; I can’t hold it all anymore.
- Passion burnout. I love what I do, but I’ve given too much and pushed too hard.
- Physical burnout. My body is revolting; I have depleted my life force.
Now, here’s where our power is—in our self-honesty and self-awareness. We can’t change what we cannot see, but once we see it, we become empowered to make different choices.
Take a pause to increase your self-awareness of how these types of burnout show up for you. This will help you be more empowered to see and feel the signs or symptoms before you get to the point of physical burnout.
Then go into your life and experiment with making different choices using the harmonizing practice, which will help you identify which kind of burnout you may currently be experiencing and what you need to reverse the slide into burnout.
Self-Awareness: What Are Your Burnout Signals?
>> Which kinds of burnout have I experienced?
>> What are the signs or symptoms that I am experiencing these kinds of burnout? When these occur, use the harmonizing practice below to keep you from sliding into burnout.
Harmonizing Practice: Reverse Your Current Burnout Slide
>> Which of the eight kinds of burnout am I experiencing currently? Choose the one or two most present right now.
>> What do I need to receive to reverse the slide into physical burnout? Give this space or support to yourself.