It will never happen to me.
I remember saying that statement on many occasions. Over and over I rehearsed those words.
Then, it happened to me.
I burned out.
If you are anything like me then you don’t want to admit that you are close to burning out. You may be reading this thinking that you are managing your life well.
Then there is the internal conversation you keep having with yourself.
It will never happen to me. I am only doing this much work for a short time. Burnout happens to a lot of people, but I can handle it.
I got this.
When you try to convince yourself you’re not burned out you are just deceiving yourself.
Burnout happens to the best of people.
It is not something people want or need. Burnout is not something that you sign up for. It creeps in. The creep is slow at first. You are feeling a little more tired than usual. Thoughts of running away come more frequent. You don’t remember the last time you laughed.
Then it hits you.
You realize that you are burning out.
I compare burnout to a ninja. Ninja are silent assassins. Their purpose is to get in, stay hidden, and strike when the times presents itself. When you finally notice them it is way too late. The moment you see them is the moment you realize that your life is over.
Burnout is like that. It creeps in slowly. Lies hidden waiting for an opportunity to present itself. When burnout shows up it is too late to do anything about it.
When did I notice that I was starting to burn out?
I never noticed until recently. I had spent the last year in this kind of continue the status quo mode. I kept pushing and pushing without any time for myself.
“keep things moving forward. Don’t stop until you see everything through. Your energy will return to you as soon as this assignment is over.”
I was so wrong!
What I didn’t realize was that I forgot the sound of my own laugh. There was a time when I would laugh often. At this point, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had laughed.
My thoughts, “Keep moving forward.”
To admit that I was losing my soul and burning out was too much for me. I convinced myself that I could and would do what I set out to do.
I convinced myself that I was invincible.
What I did was hide what I fool I had been.
Being wrapped up in what I needed to do for others I neglected to take care of myself. That made me foolish. I could never hope to take care of others if there was nothing in me to give out!
I kept giving and giving from a well that had run dry.
Dry wells aren’t able to give life sustaining water. They are dead wells. They remain a visible shell of what they should be. Pristine and wonderful on the outside, but empty and dusty on the inside.
By definition, burnout is a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.
Yet, I think there is something we have to realize.
Not every burnout is a complete collapse caused by overwork or stress.
Sometimes, the burnout causes us to be fall apart. At other times, we can continue in our work, but will not be able to perform at peak levels. I think there are many levels of burnout.
For my purpose, I will give you the two categories that I most agree with.
Two Categories of Burnout
1. Full Burnout (Complete Burnout)
This is the type of burnout we most think of when we think of burnout. This is the burnout that has a full mental and physical collapse. Many people who reach this stage will become emotionally, mentally, and physically broken.
During this type of burnout you are a mess. You don’t have the energy, the will, or the drive to complete the most simple of tasks. Waking up is a chore. Depression has set in. You will need a doctor’s care. You may need more than one doctor. You’ll need a good Primary Doctor, a therapist, or you may even need a Chiropractor.
If you are looking for a coach in this area, consider joining me for some personal or group coaching. You can contact me here.
The truth is that once you reach this state of burnout you will NEVER operate as you once did.
A candle that is almost gone will not carry the same light as it once did. It will struggle to stay lit knowing that its end is near.
Once you reach this type of burnout the first time it will be easier to reach the next time.
You will have to learn how to live with a new normal.
2. Low-Grade Burnout (Functional Burnout)
This is where I believe so many of us live. I don’t have any real statistics for this, but I believe that most people are at this stage of burnout. There is a strong conviction in my soul that people don’t even realize that they are at this stage.
I call this a functional burnout.
This type of burnout is a burnout that allows you to continue your day to day lives. You get up, go to work, hang out with the family, and surf through social media. The difference is that you are doing it at a much lower level.
This means that you wake up feeling more tired. You fight hopelessness and depression. There is deep dissatisfaction of your current place in life. You are often frustrated and agitated. All you want to do is escape reality.
This is a dangerous type of burnout. You can make yourself believe that you are not burning out. Yet, deep down you know the truth. You are just trying to make it “one more day” even though you don’t believe you can go another day.
Have you ever swam and found yourself out of breath? Yet, you were in the middle of the pool. To stop treading water means you would drown. You realize that you have to get to the side, but you want to take a breath. Then it all hits you. You are too tired to reach the side, but you are too tired to keep treading water. At any moment your body will give out. Yet, you keep pushing because stopping could be dire.
You feel trapped. There is a deep sense that you know you have to keep going, but all you want to do is give up. You are so tired. Giving up would be easy, but you are afraid of the consequences of giving up.
So you keep going.
That is a functional burnout.
When I keep pushing forward when I have nothing left in me to draw upon.
Where am I?
I know this is where I was. This is where I am. I have to be honest. This was the type of burnout I had, but wanted to ignore it. I came close to hitting full burnout. There was way too much activity and not enough rest. I thought I could do it all, but in reality, I was just holding it all together. In retrospect, I don’t think I did a great job holding it together.
My life was crazy. To cover my bills I was teaching in a public school. During this time I was also pastoring a church and caring for my family. My wife struggles with a mental illness so there has been many challenges with this. I was blogging and starting my own coaching business. The list could go on.
I am not superman, but boy did I try to be.
Instead of being a hero I was almost hospitalized.
Looking back I realize how unwise I was.
I have learned a lot through this time of my life. During this particular blog series, I am going to give you tips, practical steps, and a whole lot more.
I learned that I had to:
Recognize the signs of burnout early.
Don’t ignore the signs of burnout.
Take immediate actions to prevent burnout.
As my free gift to you, I created some infographics on burnout. Check them out. I believe that they will help you!
Also, I am doing some stuff on YOUTUBE. I encourage you to check it out as well. You can check out my other social media channels as well! Let’s connect!
Burnout doesn’t go away on its own. Rather, it will get worse unless you address the underlying issues causing it. If you ignore burnout, it will only cause you further harm down the line. It‘s important that you recognize it before it is too late.
If you are already burnt out you will need to begin recovery as soon as possible.
Recovery from burnout is a slow journey; not a quick dash to some imaginary finish line. You need time and space to recuperate, so don’t rush through this process.
#1. I love it when people share their thoughts.
I am eager to hear how you have navigated through burnout! Comment below and let me know what you would add!