How to manage burnout when you’re used to giving everything

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I work with very driven women every day.

And I love working with them, because I’m also very driven.

But the downside of being so driven is it’s easy to find yourself burned out. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout, as well as how to combat it.  

When you love what you do and who you work with it’s easy to compromise your boundaries. And it becomes more and more tempting to skip lunches, to sacrifice off time, to begin working more and more with less and less down time.

Increasing our risk of burnout.

Burnout occurs on a spectrum, which means you don’t need to experience all of these symptoms in order for it to need attention. The symptoms of burnout that I typically warn my clients about include:

  • Fatigue

  • Not being able to get enough rest

  • Feeling stagnant or stuck

  • Decreased social connections

  • Constant exhaustion

  • Short temper

  • Difficulty maintaining healthy habits

  • Headaches, lingering  colds, increase of health complications

  • Lack of focus

  • Feeling of not being effective

  • Cynicism and other negative thoughts/feelings

  • Cognitive issues

  • Self care completely dissipates

  • Increase in mental health symptoms

I really want to reiterate that if you find yourself experiencing ANY of the symptoms I listed above, then PLEASE consider checking the solutions I am listing below. If you are currently experiencing more than half of the symptoms above, then please get in touch with me.

You don’t need to suffer alone.

When looking at solutions to heal burn out, it’s super important to make sure they are simple and realistic. When I’m experiencing burn out, meditating for an hour a day just isn’t going to happen. So...if while reading any of these, the suggestions feel like too much, break it down and keep it simple. Do what works for YOU. Remember when we are healing burn out, it’s crucial that we keep it simple, easy, helpful and practical.

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One of the best suggestions I have ever received is to set a time for two minutes. So implement any or all of these suggestions for JUST two minutes.

Set the timer and let the healing begin, then when the timer goes off return to work as normal.

This has to be a no brainer for you!

Healing should be easy, natural, and simple. My recommendations include:

  1. Set Limits: Limits are a healthy way of establishing boundaries.

    Contrary to popular belief settling limits is a healthy and self supporting activity to engage in. Some of the limits I typically recommend to clients are to take a FULL LUNCH, schedule down time, and schedule two minute breaks to just breathe. During times of burn out it’s super important to set yourself up for success.

  2. Intentional Relaxation: Relaxation is typically the opposite of being burned out.

    It’s important to dedicate to the habit of engaging in relaxation.  

    Take an extra long shower or bath, spend three minutes outside in the sunlight, spend two minutes looking at the stars. Set the timer on your cell phone for 30 seconds and just focus on your breathing.

  3. Disconnect from gadgets: It’s crucial to disconnect from being “on call” or “on demand” from everyone in the world.

    It’s also important to find a few moments each day to disconnect from cell phones, laptops, nooks, kindles, desktops, televisions, etc. It’s important in the beginning of this activity to prepare for the panic that may set in.

    It can feel super unsafe to  not be accessible 24/7.

    However, it’s important for you to keep in mind that while highly uncomfortable, you are completely safe. Start for very small periods of time and then build up from there.

  4. Get back to basics: I mean this one very literally.

    When we look at the basics we consider things like sleep, hydrations, movement, nutrition, etc. I’m a huge proponent for regular check in’s on these issues.

    How much water are you drinking? How much sleep are you getting? Are you waking up feeling refreshed? Are you feeding your body food that nourishes it? What kind of movement are you giving your body? When’s the last time you stretched your body?

Burn out is a natural and normal culprit that occurs when you are driven and passionate about what you do and who you work with.

Let’s forgo the self deprecating and beating ourselves up for finding ourselves relating to the criteria outlined in this blog. Treat yourself with some compassion and empathy and implement one of the skills above.

If you are struggling with burnout (or even just need to identify if you truly are burned out) I’m here to help.

Jenn Bovee, Founder of the Illinois Mental Wellness Center and women's guide to a life untethered, helps unlock power women who are trapped by the chains of shame and trauma.