Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 23, 2013

#HAWMC Day 20: I’m Burned Out

What does burnout feel like? What are your burnout triggers? Today’s #HAWMC challenge is to answer these two questions. For me, burnout makes me feel very apathetic. I stop caring about things as much and definitely lose my focus.

BurnoutMerriam Webster says burnout is, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” I must admit that I thought more about mental burnout than physical burnout. Maybe that’s because I use my mind for far more activity right now than I do my body. My biggest burnout trigger is my never-ending To Do List. This burnout is a self-imposed form of burnout. I have a hard time saying “no” and far too many interests in different subjects and activities. Couple that with a feeling that I can do it all and I’m asking for trouble.

The biggest help in avoiding this type of burnout is adhering to this mantra from Margie Warrell, “Sometimes you have to say no to the good, to make room for the great.” This lesson has made a big difference in my life over the last few years. I realized that less is more and that life gets even better when you spend your time on only the most important activities.

Another emotional burnout trigger is being around negative people. It’s as though they suck the life right out of you. This is especially dangerous online with troll behavior. It’s easier to get drawn into an argument online. It’s a trap! The other person doesn’t care. Like a child, they are trying to get a reaction out of you and you just end up wasting your positive energy and feeling terrible after the fact. So I try to avoid negative people, whether it means unfollowing and unfriending on social media, or detaching myself from relationships in real life. This becomes especially clear and easy to do after events like last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. Although I know everyone deals with situations like this differently, when I see someone being crass or thoughtless about human suffering, I turn my attention elsewhere. I’d rather be surrounded by people that build other people up. We need more of that in today’s world. We need more love.

So how do you combat burnout? I try to make some additional quiet time for myself. I schedule mental health days. I do something I love and enjoy, like photography. I try to locate the source of the stress or frustration and minimize it. I also limit the amount of new tasks I take on at work and in my personal life. I refocus my energy on smaller, easier tasks and get them off my To Do List. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to try.

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