You’ve probably heard the wistful joke about trying to remember the last time as an adult that you didn’t feel at least a little bit tired. Your days and evenings are packed with your job duties, household chores, kid wrangling and the other responsibilities of life. When does it cross the line from overload to burnout?
We all need a little stress in our lives. That’s the fuel that revs our engines and keeps us at peak performance. But our “fight or flight” hormones can’t judge for context. They kick in whether the stimulus is real or imagined. Directors of horror films make their living depending on this response.
Your mind and body are not meant to operate under stress 24/7. This is where a little TLC comes in. Taking time to relax and unwind gives your system a chance to rein in those stress hormones. Moving at full speed without a chance to refuel is what pushes you into burnout territory.
Stress keeps you moving but burnout slams on the brakes, leaving you literally and figuratively drained. You find yourself unable to summon the motivation to do even simple tasks. Activities you enjoy suddenly hold no appeal. Physical symptoms include headaches, upset stomach, lack of energy and difficulty sleeping.
Burnout is a chronic condition that can lead to serious consequences such as depression and substance abuse. If you feel yourself starting to spin out of control, regain charge with these positive steps:
- Take care of yourself physically. Junk food may be quick and easy, but aren’t you worth the extra effort? Get some moderate exercise like walking or bike riding. Of course, plenty of sleep is important.
- Meditation is an effective way to clear the extra “chatter” from your head and focus on what’s important. Once you’ve learned the technique you can take mini-breaks just about anywhere.
- Research has uncovered gender differences in reaction to stress. While men prefer an active approach, women respond to “tend and befriend”. Spending time with friends and family and other nurturing activities can help you restore balance.
Don’t let burnout rob you of the joys of everyday living. Remember, you’re in control. Keep the scales of work and play at a healthy balance.