It’s natural for energy levels to fluctuate from day to day, but full-fledged burnout can undermine your happiness and effectiveness.
As a reminder, burnout is when we are exhausted physically, emotionally, or mentally AND we lack motivation, experience a drop in performance, and have a negative attitude. (That feels icky just reading it!)
But what causes burnout? Does it simply come from working too much? The answer may surprise you. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of burnout and some strategies for dealing with them.
Researchers at a Spanish university recently discovered at least three distinct types of burnout – overload, boredom, and worn out.
This is what most of us probably think of when we hear “burnout”. Overload is when we push ourselves to exhaustion, over-committing to others while overlooking our own needs.
Suggestions for overcoming overload:
Commit to self-care. Allow for your needs in your schedule. This may be as simple as not taking on extra errands or allowing yourself at least 15 minutes between meetings. Set boundaries and learn to say “no” graciously.
Set reasonable goals. Be realistic about your capacity and schedule. Calculate what it will take to complete a project before you commit. Anticipate what additional resources you may require and ask for them before you need them.
Focus on solutions. Propose constructive alternatives when faced with a challenging situation. No matter how right you are, chronic complaining can darken your mood and drive others away.
You read that right – boredom. How can boredom cause burnout? An extended period of being under-challenged and not utilizing your gifts (i.e., skills and talents) can cause burnout in the opposite way that overload causes burnout. People experiencing this type of burnout are also vulnerable to cynicism and will try to avoid difficult issues.
Suggestions for overcoming burnout resulting from boredom:
Take on a challenge. Volunteer for a demanding assignment. Pick something that will give you a chance to acquire new knowledge and learn additional skills. This could be at work or in your personal life.
Help others. Whether performing a small act of kindness to brighten someone’s day or mentoring someone more junior in your field to spur their career growth, you can find stimulation and purpose in serving others.
Do you have lots of ideas and worthy goals, but not the support and resources to act on them? Does your motivation sink when you encounter barriers and stress? Not to be confused with overload, “worn out” is more about feeling helpless when you run into challenges.
Suggestions for overcoming worn out burnout include:
Plan ahead. Take the long view when you’re starting a project. Picture the typical obstacles that you’ll likely meet along the way and be prepared to address them. Figure out who you can contact for expert advice or where you can locate additional resources.
Breathe. When you feel the stress of helplessness coming on, pause and take a deep breath. Find relaxation methods that work for you. Listen to music, repeat a mantra, or, for you work-from-homers, pet your dog.
Remember why you do what you do. Give yourself periodic reminders of why your work is important to you. For some people, it’s the work itself and for others it’s the ability to support their family or desired lifestyle. Whatever it is for you, recalling your “why” is a great way to ease burnout from being worn out.
While the causes of burnout are different, they all have the potential to leave you feeling drained and hopeless if they’re allowed to build up over time. Use the suggestions provided to help you ease your burnout in-the-moment and in the short-term. A longer-term solution involves finding deeper fulfillment by aligning your work and personal life with your personal values and desires.
Call to action
Identify which of the three types of burnout is impacting you and start practicing the suggested techniques for easing it.
Come back next week for more tips on recovering from burnout and learning to feel OK again.
Would you like 1:1 help with your burnout and developing your long-term solution for overcoming it? Schedule your 20-minute Complimentary Consultation and we can discuss what that might look like and how I may be able to help.