Recognizing the signs and causes of burnout can help you identify where you are and provide comfort that there’s a term for what you’re going through. But only by taking action can you reverse burnout and overwhelm and change the trajectory of your life.
The truth is, nobody but you can take a stand and change the way you feel about your life. Nobody else can force you to take the steps out of the fog, pain, and stress. Somebody else can’t fix it for you. Somebody else can’t feel it for you.
It turns out that being the only one who can save yourself is actually a great thing! Because it is through this firewalking process that you will forge your inner strength in ways you never had before and grow more purposeful and happier than you have been before, too.
1) You prioritise taking care of others more often than you prioritise yourself.
When you keep saying yes to everyone but yourself, you quickly end up with no time for rest or for the things that really matter to you. Not having any time or energy left for yourself can lead to frustration, anger, depression, anxiety, apathy, or feeling helpless.
If you’ve been prioritising everyone but yourself for long enough, you can even feel guilty when you do something for yourself and worry that others expect you to always be doing something for them. The guilt and pressure to justify your actions make activities you used to love feel flat and unsatisfying, creating even more exhaustion, overwhelm and disappointment.
The worst part is that constantly denying yourself your own time, respect, and care can eventually result in physical distress like chronic pain, fatigue, brain fog, and other physical discomforts.
The good news is that taking time for yourself when done the right way can result in rapid and surprising turnarounds for some of these symptoms, which can inspire you to take more actions on your own behalf and break the burnout cycle. Taking the time and dedicating energy completely for yourself to heal is a powerful catalyst for shifting burnout into inspiration and even relieving outward symptoms of fatigue, pain and stress.
The shift can be practically instantaneous, and once you’ve managed it, the rewards of the shift continue to build. And so, you absolutely must address the people-pleasing tendencies in your life so that you can put it to rest effectively without burning bridges in your relationships. Then, you can learn to gift yourself the appreciation and attention you deserve without guilt.
2) You aren’t taking time for proper self-care, or when you do, you don’t enjoy it.
Creating an effective self-care routine or rescue plan requires that you get honest with yourself about how you really feel right now. It requires developing the strength and coping skills to handle the pain that has frequently become unconscious and internalized in burnt-out, overwhelmed people. Because until you get honest with yourself about the blocks you have to let in joy and comfort today, you’ll keep finding that no matter what you do, your feeling is still the same. When you address the blocks in the way of allowing you to relax, you will find a liberation that sets you free.
In order to squash burnout, you have to locate the uncomfortable beliefs in the way of you enjoying life right now. They are hidden in your feelings, so you must learn how to be with them and get their messages clearly. When you do, you’ll have all you need to break free and make choices that serve you and get you closer to your goals. Learning this skill will even let you expand your goals beyond what you initially believed you could do. Ultimately, only you know what’s right for you. That’s why it is so important to work on the real problems and not use “band-aids” to temporarily mask and relieve your uncomfortable feelings.
3) You’ve mistaken having a plan for solving your problem.
This looks like downloading 500 free programs and pdfs that tell you how to reduce stress, creating a booming side hustle that’ll make you millions, adopting a meditation routine, putting together a capsule wardrobe, doing your makeup in under 10 minutes, etc. They all seem like great paths to getting something you want and simplifying your life. But then you don’t finish reading them or doing anything that will make a difference.
The truth is, you probably already know most of the steps that will take you where you want to go. That’s not the problem!
The problem is that you haven’t had someone there to help you take those steps and show you how to do them in real life. You lack practical experience doing it, so when it’s hard to implement you get discouraged or bored and look for the next thing to try instead.
You need someone to point out when you aren’t doing the work or when you’re not doing it right. You need someone you can ask for help when you’re confused about a process, so you get clarity before you give up. And you need practice building up a new routine and giving it long enough to take hold so it can make a difference and become a lasting habit.
Here’s the reality:
Knowing WHAT to do and having someone show you HOW to do it and clearing up any of your confusion makes a huge difference in getting the result you want.
Experimenting by yourself may eventually result in success, but it often takes years and it’s easy to get bored or discouraged and give up way before then. Don’t mistake having a lot of information available to you with having the right information at the right time or thinking that simply having knowledge will fix things. You must act if you want to change anything in your life, and if you don’t take action on your plan, you’ll stay right where you are.
4) You lack the right guides and support to help you
Your friends and family are wonderful and add a ton of value to your life. But if your best friend and family members haven’t already been to the top of Burnout Mountain and come down the other side, they can’t help you find the trail much less create an efficient one out – and that’s a fact.
It’s like this: Imagine you’re standing in front of a haunted house.
The thing you want – personal freedom, the ability to relax and enjoy your life, recognition at work, a more fulfilling relationship, or the deep self-confidence you desire – is at the back exit, and to get it, you must navigate and complete the entire maze inside.
This haunted house is full of the scariest things you can think of. It’s got mirrors that distort the truth and make it hard to tell what’s what, spooky monsters that pop out and tell you the worst possible things about yourself at the worst times, and signs that give conflicting directions or tell outright lies about where to go next.
Inside, it alternates between blindingly bright and terrifyingly dark, and it’s loud and disorienting followed by periods of quiet that make you nervous as you anticipate the next startling surprise. If you are brave enough to enter, at every moment you want to jump out of your skin and find the exit, but you don’t know where it is.
This is what your mind is like when you’re in the middle of burnout – and if the people you ask for help haven’t already conquered their personal haunted houses, they will just agree with you when you point out all the scary stuff. They aren’t yet aware how much of it is made up, what is an objective fact and what’s a distortion, or where the exits are. They can’t calmly guide you through, around, and out of your haunted house. They have no idea how to get you to the prize, but because they love you they will cheer you on and sympathetically agree with you about how hard it is.
It’s not their fault. They want you to win. But they have no clue what to do or where to go either.
To beat the haunted house, you could do it by yourself, sure. But hiring the guide would be faster and less stressful. You’d get to the end so much faster. A proper guide is able to take your hand and encourage you through the maze and avoid the traps, and even help you recognize them before they spook you out of completing the journey. You’d get to live your life without the fear, without the panic, without the drama in so much less time, and the journey there would feel at least a little safer and more predictable.
5) You don’t know how to feel better, so you spend a lot of energy looking for the “right” answer that could help.
This shows up as checking in with everyone around you about what they think you should do to feel better and dabbling with lots of different modalities but not getting any traction. Being in limbo becomes your default state. There will always be another opinion, and you can drift between them whenever one is disappointing before ever changing a thing.
But the truth is that if you want to stop feeling exhausted, disappointed, and burnt-out, at some point you MUST choose a new way of being.
You’ll have to change something in your life. Deep down, you already have a sense of what it is that you want and need. But if you’re afraid of doing it, that fear is keeping you treading water that is getting over your head.
Here’s why asking your friends and family to tell you what to do keeps you stuck in this cycle:
You’re not compelled to act on what your friends or family say for very long because it doesn’t come from inside of you. Their advice isn’t enough to get you in motion. Or it’s not enough to keep you in motion.
Another reason it fails is that what makes your friend happy might not make you happy, so the same actions don’t necessarily produce the same results.
And here is a painful truth, but one you might need to hear so you can finally face the pain and move forward:
You might be more comfortable in the stage of “searching” than in the stage of implementing. You might be scared of failing or that you can’t have what others have, so you avoid situations that could potentially shove that in your face. If that’s where you’re at, you’ll have the same conversations with your friends and family for years with nothing changing. It will take something drastic like losing a job, a health crisis, or some other tragic event to force you into action.
The solution is to face your truth, no matter how terrifying it feels to look it in the eye.
To conquer that fear, you need to build resiliency and coping skills, have practice at recognising what’s going on in your head, and practice continually choosing a train of thought that benefits you and leads you where you want to go. Most especially, you need someone unattached to your situation to help point out what you’re missing in your unique blind spots. Because you can’t see what you can’t see. Choosing to ask for help and get the support you need from someone who knows how to help is without a doubt the fastest, least expensive, least draining option you have. Choosing someone who can see your situation with clear eyes and ask you the right questions at the right time, so you finally uncover what you truly value and want is priceless.
If you suffer from burnout, you can read Blaze’s personal story by clicking here, or join Blaze’s free Facebook group “Permission Granted” for some tips and support!
Click here to read Blaze’s Personal Story, “How my burnout brought me happiness and fulfilment”!