You may be a mother trying to juggle the responsibilities of being a parent with taking care of yourself, or you may be a single, young professional working in a demanding job and trying to figure out ‘adulthood,’ or you may be a student studying to get in the perfect college or career, or you may simply be a human carrying the heavy emotional load of the past few years of loss, confusion, isolation and ‘unprecedented’ times. Each of us in our lives likely face things or phases of time that leave us overwhelmed and exhausted. This is so hard and so normal – part of what makes us human.
But you may be wondering, what’s the difference between walking through a difficult season of life and full-on burnout? Generally, burnout is the feeling of extreme physical and emotional exhaustion (World Health Organization). It’s important to note that it’s both physical and emotional – your body can feel burnt out as well as your mind!
Practically, what does this look like? Here are 3 common signs of burnout:
- You feel exhausted but still have trouble falling asleep
- Tasks you used to enjoy or complete with ease feel more difficult or take longer
- Feeling disconnected or detached from those around you
Burnout means you’re depleted. You’re running on empty and it’s your reserves (e.g. simple routine and habit) that are keeping you going, but that’s simply not sustainable.
If you find yourself identifying with some of the signs above, it may be useful to start by journaling to better understand your current state and how you can begin to recover from burnout. These journaling prompts can be a helpful first step:
- What factors in my life are contributing to this feeling of burnout? Am I responding to these factors in ways that are different than usual?
- Recall a happy memory. Now, what is one thing that sounds good to me right now or sparks a positive feeling? Remind yourself you’re a human on this earth and not floating in isolation.
- Think of yourself as a child, and the way you would treat a child who is exhausted – what kind and soothing things can you say to yourself?
Recovering from burnout is a slow process – your battery is so low it may take a while to recharge so please be gentle with yourself in the process. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves over some idea of ‘where we should be’ but I encourage you to be kind in acknowledging the value of where you are now.
If you’d like a gentle resource to guide you in the process of recognizing and recovering from burnout, our therapists would be honored to help. You can book a free consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC