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Burnout. We dread it. We work hard to create what we want, to smash goals, and become who want to be. But burnout can hit us. One day we are motivated and excited, the next we are in bed, sick, and unable to move from exhuastion.
Now burnout doesn’t happen over night, even though it may feel like it. It is the compounded effect of how we are treating ourselves over weeks, months, and even years. Some of us think of burn out as the “I need a month long vacation,” type of feeling. Or the "I need to sleep for days" to recover from the amount of hours I have been putting in.
Both of those are real consequences of burnout. There are a few ways that you can experience burnout, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here, I will discuss emotional burnout.
Emotional burnout is when you cant muster any positive emotions. They have all been drained. You may feel numb about things you should be excited for or you may just feel sad and down. This is usually not felt in isolation, all 3 types of burnout will occur at the same time, after long hour and no breaks.
Here is my story ...
My Recent Experience
Last week I experienced burn out. I was sitting writing a blog post and felt no excitement about sharing the post or clarity on whether you, my audience, would actually enjoy the post. As I sat there feeling lost and confused about my purpose I grew sad. I am working hard to provide enriching content to you. But, in those moments I wasn’t sure what I was trying to provide.
After thinking about how I was feeling a bit more I realized that I was tired. I was really tired. Not the type of tired, where you want to sleep for days. It was the type of tired where I needed my brain to turn off and do nothing for hours. I realized I had been thinking about my blog nonstop for weeks.
I needed a break. Bad.
My brain needed to shut down after thinking 24/7 about my blog. It was sucking all my energy away. Not all the physical energy but the emotional energy. The excitment and positive feelings associated with a sense of clarity and purpose were being drained away. So, at this point, there was nothing left and I felt no excitement for the post I was writing or the ideas that I was having.
After talking with a few people on how I was feeling I realized I needed to stop what I was doing. Right then and there. So I took the rest of the day off and decided to take the next day off as well. I realized I had been working non-stop for 2 weeks without a real beak.
So, what did I do with my time off? People said to treat myself and do something I loved to do or enjoy. But, I really didnt feel any excitement for doing anything. So I did nothing, but lay around, watch a movie and lay around some more. The only thing I purposefully and intentionally did was not think about my blog.
Nothing. Not one thought.
It worked! I felt ready to smash my blog and felt a new joy for it. I realized from that, that my brain being in constant over drive to be thinking, solving problems, coming up with ideas was actually hindering my progress.
So what can you do when you are feeling drained?
When you are working on your projects, with your friends, or just at home watching T.V., be present. Let your mind only focus on what is in front of you. Don’t have thoughts about your work while you are trying to enjoy a night out with your significant other. Too many times I have done this and missed out on an opportunity to enjoy the other persons presence.
Luckily my little dip didn't last long, and hopefully yours won't either. It can feel like a waste of time to take breaks and have purposeful down time when you are invigorated by what you are doing. Trust me, I was experiencing the same thing. But sooner or later you will burn through all your resources and crash. Don't let it happen to you, if you can take action now, do so.
Be present. Enjoy each moment. Avoid burnout.