What is Burnout?
Updated: Apr 1
Burnout, beyond exhaustion, is a depletion of your inner resources. A slow, sneaking halt.
It comes in waves. It arrives quietly and, without you realizing, it drains the life out of you until you have nothing left to give.
We’re not just talking about physical exhaustion from long working hours.
It is more than the occasional fatigue or having an 'off day'.
Burnout is having an off day, every day.
Cynicism sets in, along with constant lethargy, anxiety, and despair. Left unattended, burnout spirals into full-blown depression.
So what causes burnout?
Burnout happens when:
- The effort and heart you put into something are undervalued or unappreciated for long periods of time.
- There is a misalignment between the kind of work you do and your true calling.
- You are trying to fit an image, a position, or a relationship that is not aligned with your values and ultimately brings you no joy.
- You have stretched beyond your means (financially, emotionally and/or physically) to keep up the identity that you’ve built around yourself, which no longer fits who you are.
- When, by choice or by circumstance, you have let go of something meaningful to you: an old dream that you've shelved, a self you are hiding, a kind of life you believe is unattainable.
All of this creeps up in small increments:
A little nudge here, a tiny hunch there, a morning where you’re struggling to focus, an afternoon where you can't complete a sentence, an evening where you cancel a social engagement. Increasing moments of despair, forgetfulness, a sense of numbness. Getting caught in the circus of doing and achieving without proper rest, and pushing beyond your limits.
You dismiss it.
You fight it.
After all, you've been the one with outstretched arms, putting out fires, getting things done, being there when you’re needed, everyday; tending, lending a hand, lending your being…
But your heart isn’t in it anymore. The purpose of it all has long left you. Everything is routine; you seem to be moving on autopilot, with ungrounded feet and a soul hungry for change.
But you keep going, because that's what you do.
And then it happens.
The final straw.
The last push, when you can no longer push back. It may be a dire life event, divorce, illness of a loved one, a project that needs saving, places and people that demand your every inner resource. You rise to the challenge because, again, you always have and you often do. You summon all of your endurance and resilience to get through it. But it gets harder because, with each outstretch, you're emptied. Clarity begins to ebb away, cognitive functions slow down, and everything becomes too much to handle.
At this point, when it feels like it’s all coming crashing down, it’s so easy to see yourself as a failure, as inadequate, as unfit and unlovable. But it’s just not true! You are simply overtired, exhausted, pulled, stretched, emptied, spent, burnt out.
It began with good intentions, plugging into systems that seemed to have a successful track record, but they weren't the right fit for you and proved unable to fuel you for the life that you’re meant to live. Following in the footsteps of others, under the weight of a constant achievement-obsessed society, you’ve lost sight of your own success story.
But it doesn't have to stay this way.
Burnout is a wake-up call to review, adjust and tailor your life according to your true values; to replenish your heart, body, and soul, and move on with a renewed sense of purpose.
But, first things first:
If all of this sounds familiar, I ask of you this: before you embark on various therapies, before you quit your job, your relationships, your social activities, before making any drastic changes, please see a doctor.
Why? Because the internet is full of subjective opinions and personal experiences. Although what you read may resonate with your experience on many levels, there are certain medical conditions (Fibromyalgia, underactive thyroid, chronic fatigue syndrome, General Anxiety Disorder, Psychosomatic Disorder...) with symptoms that overlap with those of burnout. A medical check-up is always the place to start. So make that appointment!
If all medical conditions have been ruled out and these symptoms still persist, if something within you is calling out to be heard at a deep level, and if you do not have a proper support system to get you through this period, then connect with a trusted professional. Should you chose to contact me, I would love to hear from you, and I will do my utmost to prepare a trajectory for a Rest and Recovery plan that is uniquely tailored to you. I will listen to your yearnings, callings and values, and help you move through this phase so that you can rediscover your spark and emerge with a deeper understanding of your true self and a richer appreciation of life.
You have an essential place in this world, a change-making role in the lives of the people, places and causes on your heart. But first, you need to fill up your cup, your reservoir, and get to truly meet and know yourself so that you can follow through on all that is truly meaningful to you.
Burnout Recovery Life Coach
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