Ever had those moments when you felt overly exhausted? Physically and mentally drained? Irritable? Lost your spark?
If yes, you might be experiencing a burn out.
This is quite common nowadays amidst the pandemic, especially if you continuously push yourself relentlessly beyond your limits and forget about your own needs and wants to make things work for you, the way you want them to.
In the process though, the importance of self-care (which I personally advocate for) is overlooked in exchange of one's pursuit of his/her goal coming from too much grit and at times, desperation.
Take it from me guys. I have experienced it before. And I spent two weeks in isolation (and in bed most of the time) because I just didn't want to move at all!
Yup, it was that bad.
And I perfectly remember what triggered it: I was working my ass off crazily, managing multiple big projects then for my ad agency all at the same time. I remember being so hot -headed that time and I used to snap at anyone who distracted me from what I was doing. Huge amounts were at stake with the deals I had then. I totally lost count of the number of meals missed, occasions skipped and hours of sleep lost.
My goal then: to earn a living.
And then before I knew it, I found myself spiralling down into a deep black hole which made me hate my work (and myself) in the process. Still I remembered asking myself:
Am I burned out or just being lazy?
I already knew the answer within but it took an early morning surprise to make me realize that I wasn't ok.
At 4:30am, I went down to get water from the fridge and suddenly I collapsed. Next thing I knew I was at the hospital and the doctors were telling me to rest for two weeks because I was experiencing over fatigue and total burn out.
My mind was racing back then, worried about my deadlines. But the next few days changed that.
The pain and the helplessness from being unable to move made me realize a very important lesson I carry to this day which invalidates my shallow concerns: the importance of self-care.
Work can wait. But my life can't.
Eye-opening two weeks indeed. But like I said, it needed to happen so as to prevent me from killing myself as I worked. Blame the workaholic in me or the part of me that wanted to be validated and rewarded then. Operative word is "then" because now, as I type this, I have long put that version of me to rest. Oh yes, and I am at peace.
Ok, so I might have scared you now in the process. Lucky for you though, I would like to share with you some tips on how you can actually prevent getting burned out at work (or in life in general):
Ok, it's not exactly healthy to work and just sit 8 hours straight in front of your laptop. Not only will it strain your eyes, hurt your mind and affect your posture, it's actually counter productive. So be sure to have pocket breaks in between. Add 15-minuter pauses scattered all through out the day (excluding lunch or dinner breaks ok, which should be longer in the first place) and just let yourself be. Stretch. Read a chapter of your book, walk around for a while. Anything that will allow you to break the state and recalibrate in the process.
2. Be mindful of your body and mental language
Ok, you have to pay attention to what your mind and body are telling you. Listen intently. Good thing is that they give out clear signs if they need to have a break from it all: scattered or blank thoughts, feeling tired, having extremely poor posture, among others. Allow yourself to do just that. Remember, if you insist in pushing forward, it wouldn't do you any good because they just won't cooperate anymore. Waste of effort so give yourself the time off you want and deserve.
3. Always come from a space of love
In each and everything that you do, add love. Find something you're grateful for in your current space. Show love and appreciation there after. Love makes any task easier (and at times, more bearable). As the saying goes, it'll never feel like work at all! But here's my caveat: don't forget to give yourself the kind of loving you willingly give to your work or passion project. Uhuh, you matter more.
4. Live healthily and intentionally
It's always important to nourish your mind and body accordingly. Create a regular routine that will allow you to exercise, eat healthily (don't forget to add fruits and veggies to your diet ok?) and get enough sleep. In between, find time to meditate and just disconnect with the outside world as you reconnect with your self within. By being intentional about your self-care you are able to cope better with the demands at work (and of life too).
5. Manage your self-talk
By this time, you know the value of personal affirmations. However, in this case, burn out isn't exactly something you want to own. So instead of saying "I am burned out and I want to just die" (ok, exaggeration intended for emphasis haha!), say "I FEEL tired and I JUST NEED to rest so I can be better next time'. By not using "I AM" you are separating the toxic situation from your entire being, allowing you to refocus on what can be done to resolve this external factor that you have control over on. Remember, you are NEVER your burned out version, so don't ever own it. Allow yourself to recalibrate in your own space, at your own pace as you practice genuine self-compassion so that you can become your own #bestmeever.
So there, I hope these help you how not to get burnt out at work and realize at the same time that there's life after work (or whatever is keeping you too busy to just live!).
And that life, will always be far better than you imagined, only if you allowed yourself to just be.