“Burnout happens when you avoid being human for too long.” ~ Anonymous
You’re sleepy, tired, and hungry.
Yet you work more.
You want to rest and take a break,
Yet you go on doing more.
You start to forget things, and a weird irritation begins to set in.
But you work even more.
You are restless throughout the day,
Trying to keep fearful scenarios at bay.
Even then, you keep working more.
Your insides begin to wail and scream,
Asking for a little rest.
And you have no choice
But to fall on the ground
Because how else will you ever get yourself to stop?
This is what exhaustion and burnout look like for all of us. We keep pushing ourselves to do more and more, until we crash. Until we don’t have an option but to simply take a time-out.
We are aware of what a physical burnout looks like. But most of us are not even aware of the possibility of being emotionally burnt out.
We all have our own capacity to handle a certain amount of load—physical, mental, and emotional. While keeping track of our physical limitations is easier because it does have a tangible aspect to it, recognizing emotional and mental burnout is a different story altogether.
Years can go by without us realizing that we are mentally and emotionally exhausted from:
>> Thinking too much
>> Managing everything
>> Trying to keep others happy
>> Fulfilling others’ needs and neglecting our own
>> Chasing misaligned goals and ideals
>> Staying disconnected from our core values
>> Surviving on emotional bread crumbs
And then comes a day when we can’t keep anything together no matter how hard we try.
Things within us simply begin to fall apart, and we become spectators of our internal world.
“Burnout is a bone-tired, soul-tired, heart-tired, kind of exhaustion.” ~ J. Pennebaker
And how else would it be? When we are constantly giving up and giving away parts of ourselves, either slowly or all at once, to everything outside of us, we are left empty.
And often, it takes a long time for us to realize that we are running on empty, or rather, thinking that we are running on empty whereas the reality is that we are emptying out what is anyway left of us.
Here’s what typical mental and emotional exhaustion and burnout involve:
1. Feeling tired and drained out
2. Every day seems like a mountain that we have to climb
3. Constant negativity and pessimism about self, others, and other areas of life
4. Thinking that our contribution doesn’t matter
5. Excessive mood swings
6. Difficulty sleeping
7. Difficulty slowing down
8. Falling sick often
9. Constant mental chatter that tells us that “I can’t do it” and telling ourselves that “I have to, I must, I need to…”
10. A sense of apathy
Most of the literature tells us to make lifestyle changes to deal with burnout. Yes, we need to sleep, hydrate, and eat well to nourish our bodies. We need to take breaks and rest it out so that our physical body can recover.
But what do we do for our tired soul?
When we give too much of our emotional self, switching up our routine is not going to fill it up.
Then we need to switch on the light of self-reflection and introspection to understand how we have come to empty ourselves so much.
We need to reevaluate our life choices and decisions to understand:
What makes us give so much of ourselves to our relationships irrespective of whether they deserve it or not?
What makes it difficult for us to move away and give to ourselves?
What’s the cost that we are paying by doing too much at work or in relationships?
It’s important to look at our own supporting and draining factors and tip the scales toward the supporting ones.
Once this deep sense of emotional burnout sets in, it takes a long time to come out of it and find our way back to the kind of life and relationships that once filled our empty tanks.
And we can’t come out of it if we keep turning outward.
“You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you.” ~ Zig Ziglar
We delude ourselves into believing that our existence has meaning when we have something to show for it.
But when our soul is tired and exhausted from all this doing and proving, what good are these achievements?
Your tired soul only needs one person: you.
“You can’t look outside of yourself. You must look within yourself, and address all of the things that are going on within you, and clear out the things that are not useful. Whether it’s fear or anger or shame or guilt or whatever it is—clean that stuff up.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant