5 reasons why burnout is not a badge of honour
Welcome to Burn-out Central
Many moons ago I was a fresh-faced graduate sitting in the offices of a slick firm in London for an interview. Sitting across from me was a red-eyed Associate, who was sharing his most memorable working experiences as a Trainee.
“Yes well I ended up being in this meeting room for 48 hours…I think I maybe left briefly to get a shower and shave…” followed by a wild-eyed snigger and a grin of pride: “yes it was pretty full-on”. The man was glowing with satisfaction.
Since then, I’ve got to know our society’s obsession with productivity and over-work intimately. From hard-working, diligent lawyers to grafting, ‘hustling’ business owners to the “supermums” who can do it ALL without a word of complaint (and still look great).
Working to the point of burnout isn’t noble. If your anything like me, you’ll probably benefit from a few reminders on why that’s the case:
1. Burnout damages your productivity
The WHO’s definition of burnout states that chronic stress results in “reduced professional efficacy”. Your brain can only use a certain amount of energy in a day. Once your brain is fatigued, flogging it is only going to result in less clarity, poor memory and difficulty in making decisions.
Elite athletes understand that their muscles need rest to work at their optimal level and your brain is no different.
2. Burnout isn’t sustainable
Burnout results from being too stressed for too long. Short-term periods of acute stress are normal and your body can deal with them very effectively using the stress response cycle. This is also known as the “fight or flight” response and involves the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to deal with your tight deadline or your challenging client.
If you are stressed in the long-term with no attempt to rest, restore and recharge your body is going to get to a point where it’s going to say ‘no more’.
3. Burnout feels awful
My clients often describe their burnout in terms of “having nothing left in the tank” or “running on empty” which is a pretty accurate description of what happens in your body if you’re too stressed for too long.
Other symptoms can include fatigue, brain-fog, irritability, mood-swings, insomnia, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
Us humans are brilliant at coping and soldiering on but we’re also very poor at recognising when we’re reaching depletion. If you’re starting to experience any of these symptoms I invite you to slow down, consider what you need and seek help.
4. Burnout makes your relationships suffer
When you’re running on empty you have less patience, more defensive and you’re more likely to take things personally.
It probably goes without saying that the relationships in your life are likely to take a hit if you can’t give them the energy they deserve.
If this is you, don’t beat yourself up. You are a human being trying to function in a hyper-stressed world. Just let it be a prompt for you to start making positive changes that will benefit you and your loved ones.
5. You don’t get a medal…no really, you don’t
By now I hope I’ve given you a stark reminder of why wearing burnout as a badge of honour is misguided. The price of burnout to you and the people around you is simply too high. You deserve so much better.
What do you want your life to be about? What are the things in your life that are most important to you?
These sorts of questions can inspire you to create the changes you need to put in place in defence of burnout.
If you want to take your first step towards breaking up with burnout, you can book in for a free 45 minute Clarity and Confidence Call. You’ll leave the call clear on what you need to do next to feel calmer and in control again.
April 23rd, 2021