If you’re feeling overwhelmed or overworked, but don’t know how to end the cycle of stress, you may be burned out.
Dictionary.com defines burnout as, “Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” It’s important to get ahead of burnout and recognize the symptoms before it really takes a toll on your physical and mental health. It is much harder to recover from burnout, than to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Some signs that you may be experiencing the onset of burnout include:
- Lack of productivity
- Trouble sleeping
- Compromised immune system (you’re getting sick more often)
- Decreased appetite
- Increased irritability or anxiety
- Feelings of isolation, negativity, detachment
- Loss of enjoyment
- Poor performance at work
High-achievers should especially be on high alert for signs of burnout; they are most at risk. Type-As and over-achievers are driven and passionate about what they do and they genuinely think they can do it all – but no one can do it all. At a certain point – hopefully before you get to the point of total burnout – you need to take a break.
Take this quiz to find out where you are on the burnout scale – and get some ideas for what you can do about it to help you find more balance and ease in your life. Choose the letter that most closely aligns with you, and we’ll add them up at the end.
*Editor’s Note: This quiz is not intended to be a scientific or medical prescription; it is just meant to point you in the right direction.
1. How long have you been feeling overworked and stressed?
A. All week
B. For at least a month
C. Since the beginning of this project, illness, or stressful event
D. I honestly can’t remember; stress feels like it’s become a part of me.
2. How motivated are you at work or with your responsibilities?
A. Usually very driven, but lately it’s been tough to motivate.
B. Not very motivated. I need to hit the reset button.
C. It’s difficult to focus with so much external stress and a spinning mind.
D. I don’t have time to think about motivation because I have so much to do.
3. When’s the last time you went home from work and truly relaxed?
A. Within the last month.
B. At least three months ago.
C. I don’t know, but I need to start doing that.
D. I’m not sure I know how to relax
4. What’s your biggest complaint?
A. Work is nuts. I can’t get everything done that needs to get done.
B. I’m tired, irritated, and overwhelmed a lot of the time. I need to hit the reset button in work and life.
C. I have having issues with my health as a result of the stress (can be physical, mental or emotional health).
D. I’m too busy with too many priorities. Even though I’m busy, I’m not sure I’m even being productive. When will I get time for myself? I’m overwhelmed constantly.
5. What would you rather feel instead of burned out?
A. Calm and collected
B. Relaxed and worry-free
C. Healthy, pain-free, and well-rested
D. Happy, productive, and balanced
It sounds like you’ve had a rough time lately and are noticing signs of burnout. Perhaps a big project at work or personal issue has you drowning in to-dos and responsibilities.
Take a day off. Not just a day off from your regular job to work on personal to-dos… but take a real day off work – in the middle of the week – and plan the day around what makes you feel light, relaxed, and happy. Put your needs first for once – for a whole day – and see how that feels. Here are some activities to consider infusing into your day off:
- Take a yoga class
- Spend some time outdoors
- Get some exercise
- Eat lunch at your favorite lunch spot
- Schedule time with an old friend
- Do something creative
You are stressed to the max and have been for quite a while. It’s time to take a serious break. Vacations aren’t just an indulgent kind of activity – they are actually good for your health. Plan a wellness retreat or a family vacation centered around relaxation before the end of the year. You’ll have something to look forward to – and a chance to unwind in the upcoming months. Here are some ideas:
- Go on a yoga or meditation retreat!
- Hit the Road: Grab your significant other or some friends and plan a weekend getaway. Camp, hike, wine taste, hit the spa, do yoga, chill in a hammock … try to fill your weekend with relaxation.
It sounds like you are coping with a heavy external stress – perhaps an injury, an illness, a sick loved one, and/or anxiety – along with life’s normal daily stressors. Your mind won’t stop and neither will your to-dos. Besides seeking medical support and/or a therapist to help you through your challenges, you might consider trying a meditation class. Learning to meditate in a group setting may be just what the doctor ordered if you are experiencing health challenges induced by burnout.
Try the mindfulness-based stress reduction program. It’s an eight-week program where you learn to meditate with others. Learn more about my experience in my MBSR class, and google “MBSR near me” to find a class near you. There are also online MBSR class options.
You. Are. Burned. Out. It seems that stress and burnout may just be the norm at this point for you. Your schedule is always packed, you’re always stressed, and your typical answer to the “how are you?” question is “too busy.”
If this sounds like you, it’s time to take a serious look at your life and strategize on how to find more balance and ease. Here are some ideas:
- Re-design and balance your calendar following the steps in this article
- Find more time by adding the word “No” to your vocabulary
- Take a look at how to create healthy boundaries in your life.
- Consider getting a coach to help you manage your stress and find more balance in your life. Schedule a free consultation to find out if exploring a relationship with an executive coach may serve you.
- Try out any or all of the recommendations for “Mostly A’s,” “Mostly B’s,” and “Mostly C’s,” as well. Taking some time off, planning a vacation, and learning how to cope with chronic stress will help you reset and find more balance in your life.
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As an ICF Certified Executive Coach, Melissa partners with leaders to develop their executive presence, strategic and systems thinking, resilience, communication skills, and influence in order to reach their goals. Melissa is passionate about supporting leaders and teams on their growth journeys toward greater impact, more collaborative teams, and stronger results.