What is A Burnout ?
Just because you decided to be your own boss and you are doing something you love, doesn't mean Mr. Burn Out won't hit you in the face one day or another !
I should know... I'm a BurnOut expert! =) I've got years and years of burning out and recovering lol.
The reason is I naturally don't really have limits when it comes to working hours and setting goals. It takes me very long to feel tiredness and by the time I think "hey I think I'm exhausted now ", I realize I haven't put a foot out of the house or done much for myself. And it's too late. It's bad, I KNOW! =)
But what is a Burn Out?
Well, simply put, occupational burn out is psychological stress. When burnt (burned?) out you will feel exhausted and your enthusiasm or motivation will be the size of pinhead. You will be less efficient at most tasks, even the most basic ones (because you're tired and weary) and all this will gradually lead to a lot of frustration. Your nerves will most likely (I want to say inevitably) break.
I hear many people say "damn I am so burned out at the moment", but I think there is a confusion between a real, psychological and health endangering burn out and a "I'm fed up with my job at the moment but I'll keep it" temporary state of mind. You know what I mean? Being burned out is really serious and can lead to depression, insomnia and more very unpleasant conditions.
The Road to Burn Out
Being a burnout expert lol, I have read a lot about it... One thing I've learned and noticed is that the burn out process is commonly divided into 12 steps or phases. You will not always go through aaaall the below phases but you are bound to experience a few of them at least, "lol"
This is from wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupational_burnout)
1) The compulsion to prove oneself :
Often found at the beginning is excessive ambition. The desire to prove oneself in the workplace turns into compulsion.
2) Working harder :
Because they have to prove themselves to others or try to fit in an organization that does not suit them, people establish high personal expectations. In order to meet these expectations, they tend to focus solely on work while they take on more work than they otherwise would. It may happen that they become obsessed with doing everything themselves to show that they are irreplaceable.
3) Neglecting their needs :
Since they have to devote everything to work, they now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends and family, eating and sleeping start to be seen as unnecessary or unimportant, as they reduce the time and energy that can be spent on work.
4) Displacement of conflicts :
They become aware that what they are doing is not right, but they are unable to see the source of the problem. This may lead to a crisis in themselves and become threatening. The first physical symptoms appear.
5) Revision of values :
While falling into a state of denial of basic physical needs, perceptions and value systems change. Work consumes all energy, leaving none for friends and hobbies. The job is the new value system and people start to become emotionally blunt.
6) Denial of emerging problems :
People may become intolerant and dislike being social. They may be seen as aggressive and sarcastic. Problems may be blamed on time pressure and all the work that they have to do.
7) Withdrawal :
Minimal social contact turns into isolation. Alcohol or drugs may be used as a release from obsessive working "by the book". These people often have feelings of being without hope or direction.
8) Obvious behavioral changes :
Coworkers, family, friends and others in their immediate social circles cannot overlook the behavioral changes in these people.
9) Depersonalization :
It is possible that they no longer see themselves or others as valuable. Their view of life narrows to only seeing the moment and life turns to a series of mechanical functions.
10) Inner emptiness :
They feel empty inside and may exaggerate activities such as overeating or sex to overcome these feelings.
11) Depression :
Burnout may include depression. In that case, the person is exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believes that life has no meaning.
12) Burnout syndrome :
They collapse physically and emotionally and need immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, suicidal ideation may occur, with it being viewed as an escape from their situation. Only a few people will actually commit suicide.
I am particularly familiar with the following phases : excessive ambition, working harder, neglecting my needs, revision of values, depression and well, the burnout syndrome.
How to Avoid Mr. BurnOut
1 - Take breaks. And I mean real breaks!
What I do now is I set an alarm, because otherwise I know I will never stop working. I work one hour, the alarm rings, then take a 10-15 minutes break. During that break I will do some yoga, go for a walk or just sit there and do nothing! Anything that has nothing to do with work and is not on the computer (or any screen) will work
2 - Delegate or get rid of unnecessary work
You wouldn't believe the amount of things we do every day, that are completely unnecessary lol. We can waste so much time doing basically nothing lol. And yet, we put much pressure on our shoulders doing this "unnecessary thing", go figure! =)
3 - Listen to your body - it knows better than you!
Do you feel like throwing up? Do you have a knot in your stomach? Do you feel uncomfortable, for no apparent reason? Is your heart beating unusually fast? Do you have trouble sleeping? Are your hands shaking?
Your body is your best friend, it will tell you if something is wrong ! Trust it.
4 - Take Care of Yourself
Eat. Eat healthy food. Drink water throughout the day. Exercice. Have fun. Laugh a lot! See friends and family. Do things that make you happy, as much as you can because working must not be the only thing you do. Working too much will not lead you to success faster. It will lead you to the hospital faster lol. Or at least it will turn you into something close to a zombie.
5 - Confide in someone
You don't want to be alone in this. Being on the verge of burning out or being already burnt out is really stressful and it does help to have someone you can talk to : a family member, a close friend, a significant other... a pet? Anyone, just make sure you're not alone.
6 - Relax
In the end nothing really matters, you know? :) Take a deep breath and let go of everything
7 - Set small goals
Don't be either over confident nor over ambitious. Setting small goals will help you achieve small successes all the time and you will feel good about what you do. Don't be too hard on yourself because it would be the best way to take the "burn out" slippery road
Other tips :
- get a cat =) their purring is so comforting and relaxing!
- use essential oils to diminish stress (antemis nobilis, laurus nobilis, citrus aurantium, origanum compactum, origanum majorana, citrus sinensis, artemisia dracunculus, lippia citriodora, citrus aurantium ssp aurantium)
- practice martial arts to relieve stress
- play an instrument
- grab a book and go out, find a nice tree or a cozy café and read
- learn to say "no" (mostly to yourself, but to others as well) =)
Hope this will help you guys! If you think you are burning out and don't know who to talk to, remember I'm here =)