Are You Burned Out?
ever feel like you're going on auto-pilot, rushing through
the days without any sense of enjoyment? You become used to
getting up in the morning and going through the motions simply
because you have to, because you've been doing it for so many
years that it's a habit, because it's what everyone expects
you to do, because it's what you expect of yourself. You don't
enjoy what you're doing anymore, but there's no choice; you've
got to keep on this way. You've got bills to pay and family
to take care of. Got to stay on this treadmill-right?
be suffering from burnout. It's time to take stock. Why are
you burned out? What effects does burnout have on your life?
How can you make life meaningful and enjoyable again?
is a syndrome caused by stress. It affects people differently.
Some feel physical effects, others have emotional reactions
and others may experience both. In general, people suffering
burnout will notice some of the following symptoms:
effects: exhaustion, inability to sleep, stomach problems,
effects: sadness, depression, negativity, easy anger, edginess,
tendency to blame others, lack of satisfaction or sense
of accomplishment, detachment from co-workers.
progresses, symptoms get worse. Serious depression can develop.
Stomach problems can become more severe. Nerves feel more
on edge. You feel exhausted.
go on like this forever, but making changes takes some effort.
You don't have to go from working in overdrive to shutting
down completely. Finding out why you're burned out and what
you can do about it requires a lot of looking inward, and
sometimes it requires the help of professionals.
the main causes of burnout is loss of pleasure and satisfaction
and loss of control in your day-today work. This can happen
in a work setting outside or inside the home. Long hours and
pressure to perform well can sap all the joy out of what you're
doing with your time for most of the day.
personality types are more prone to burnout as well. Some
people are extremely busy, but their active life only seems
to energize them. Perfectionists and people who can't bear
the thought of letting others down are more at risk of burnout.
A Flashpoint for Change
feels bad, but it can be a great wake-up call. It's the alarm
bell telling you to wake up and create a life you love. How
do you do that? Here are some suggestions for getting started:
to say no
This applies whether you're a stay-at-home parent, a high-powered
executive or somewhere in between. At the office, learn
to delegate some work so that you don't have to work late
all the time. If you're not in a position to delegate, talk
to your supervisor about your workload. If things don't
improve, consider looking for work someplace else, where
there's an emphasis on work/life balance.
a stay-at-home parent, you too should be able to delegate.
If your children are old enough, make sure they share some
of the chores. If your spouse seems clueless about everything
that needs to be done, it's your job to give him or her
a clear picture of how you spend your day and what needs
to be done.
Ask yourself what you expect from your work. Are you
getting it? Has it kept its meaning? If not, it's time to
re-evaluate. You need to identify what it is that will make
your work meaningful, and then find a way to bring that
meaning back into your daily life.
Look at the reasons you're working so hard, and decide if
it's really worth it. Is a bigger house going to make you
happier? A new car? The next promotion? Financial stability
is important, there's no question about it, but you need
to weigh your need for more money against your need to live
your life in a balanced way.
at your finances.
Are you in over your head? Can't keep on top of the bills?
Does your need for money control too much of your life?
It's time to get control of your finances.
to "check out"
Find time for some quiet. This can be one of the hardest
things to do, but it's as important as anything else. Set
aside time on a regular basis for yourself. Take a walk,
sit quietly and breathe deeply, swim laps, practice your
faith-whatever helps you get to that quiet place in your
the small moments
Enjoying life is about enjoying the moment. When you've
learned to find quiet time, you see that the small moments
hold a lot of meaning. Conversations with your spouse, dinner
with a friend, spending time with your child, enjoying nature-all
of these things take on more meaning when you have the time
to appreciate them.
an eye on yourself
Don't ever stop listening to that voice inside that tells
you when you're doing too much. That voice knows when you
should say no. It knows when you're too tired. It knows
when you need a break. Stay in tune with that voice.
you can make big lifestyle changes on your own. But you might
also want to consider getting help from outside sources. Reading
books and checking out Web sites may be enough for you. On
the other hand, investigating possibilities with a licensed
social worker or someone such as a career coach may be helpful
lifestyle information from books, go to the personal growth
section of libraries or bookstores.
financial advice, check out some of the following sources:
contentment, you have to create a lifestyle that reflects
your values. It takes reflection, honesty and integrity.
American Psychological Association; L Fortgang. Living Your Best Life. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. New York, New York, 10014, 2001; The Society for Professional Well-Being.