So, sometimes we burnout.
We work and work and strive and strive and juggle multiple obligations and opportunities and we just stop being fully there because we’re so tired.
Before I go on, let’s define burnout. I’m going to go with this definition because it’s not a Medium or blogger guru, but from the National Institute of Health.
“The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions. Doctors and nurses, for example, who sacrifice themselves for others, would often end up being “burned out” – exhausted, listless, and unable to cope. Nowadays, the term is not only used for these helping professions, or for the dark side of self-sacrifice. It can affect anyone, from stressed-out career-driven people and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers.”
That NIH article also has some nice rundown of symptoms:
- “Exhaustion: People affected feel drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and don’t have enough energy. Physical symptoms include things like pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems.
- “Alienation from (work-related) activities: People who have burnout find their jobs increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work.
- “Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work, at home or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their tasks, find it hard to concentrate, are listless and lack creativity.”
It’s a lot like depression, right? But it’s not the same. Typically, people with burnout don’t’ feel hopeless, suicidal or have low self-esteem.
So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, how do you get some down time when you’re working so hard that you’re either burnt out or in great danger of getting there?
GETTING A GRIP AND GRATIFY YOURSELF
First you want to look at the patterns of us overachievers who tend to burn out. We often were the ‘good kids’ in school who learned that in order to get praise (and not get in trouble) you had to get all your assignments done and on time. We’re all about the goals and completing those goals.
Chilling out? Resting? That doesn’t feel goal-oriented.
We think that we can delay our gratification and keep delaying it and keep delaying it so that we can get all our goals done. Delayed gratification, we all learn in our beginner psychology classes, means we will have better success in our life. They test children about this. It’s a thing. But when we’re super focused on achieving, we burn out because that delayed gratification equates to us not realizing that we are breaking down physically and mentally.
BE CHILL AND LET GO OF THAT DAMN GUILT
And it’s not just that. We want to get a lot done and to do it well. If our work isn’t awesome, we feel like we aren’t awesome. Resting, we foolishly think, keeps us from getting all our awesome things done. It keeps us from writing, running three miles, finishing the project for work, making the perfect lunch for our kids.
It’s worse than that though. We feel guilty. If we rest, we feel guilty.
We should be working, doing, creating. We should be better than this. We don’t need naps.
TAKE A NAP, DAMN IT
Here’s a secret: Alexander the Great took naps. He still got to be called ‘great.’ Ben Franklin? Took naps.
So, the first step is to realize that.
People who have changed history actually rested. That means you can, too. If you don’t, your performance starts to get kind of crappy. You don’t want that, do you, super goal-oriented one? No, of course not.
Then you have to remember that everything doesn’t have to be a goal and everything doesn’t have to be your job and responsibility.
Make a to-do list, sure. But in that make a top priority list and focus on those.
And remember, it’s okay to not be amazing all the time, to not be reliable all the time, to not do everything for everyone all the time. It’s so hard especially when you’re struggling to survive, but you have to remember it’s okay to suck sometimes. We all do. And it’s okay to nap.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Take naps! Only get off the couch for food. No, not really. But do take a nap if you need one.
LINK WE REFERENCE
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!