Are you at risk of Lifestyle Burnout?
Lifestyle burnout is essentially caused by an overload of chronic stress and no ‘off’ switch. It is a product of being too busy for too long without sufficient refuelling or balance. You have no periods where you can tune out. Slow down. Truly relax and have time for yourself regularly. You miss out on time to savour pleasures. To enjoy the kinds of meaningful connections with other people that feed your soul.
An increasing number of people are succumbing to lifestyle burnout. They are literally too busy to switch off. The demands and expectations they put on themselves are relentless. They often over commit beyond what is manageable. Daily life is crammed full.
Lifestyle burnout candidates hold expectations of themselves that are not sustainable over extended periods of time.
Mobile phones and social media keep many people ‘on call’ 24/7.
If we expect ourselves to be ‘on’ 24/7, our systems eventually begin to falter or fail. Depleted immune systems leave us more susceptible to illness. We may develop problems with hormonal balance, ulcers, blood pressure and frequent colds amongst other things.
Our cognitive functioning is compromised. Effectiveness is diminished in many areas of functioning. We describe a ‘foggy head’ and have difficulty making decisions. We become forgetful or absent minded. Emotionally we become more reactive. Less able to cope when something goes wrong. We panic or burst into tears if something unexpected happens, like a flat tyre on the way to work, or not being able to find the car keys.
Anxiety and depression are frequent companions in lifestyle burnout.
There is a difference between situation specific busy-ness and chronic lifestyle busy. In specific situations we may work around the clock to meet a deadline or complete a particular project. If we feel sufficiently rewarded for our efforts we fare much better. Especially if there is a period of respite or recovery once the deadline has been met.
When life feels like we are caught trudging a thankless treadmill, with no end in sight, it wears us down. Without sufficient reward or pay-offs for our efforts and sacrifices, we lose the sustaining power of pleasure and passion. We don’t sufficiently replenish or refuel ourselves. We get out of balance. This is when we are most at risk of lifestyle burnout.
Indicators of Lifestyle Burnout
- How often do you feel overwhelmed?
- How often do you run the mantra “I don’t have time”?
- Do you quickly re-charge your energy or still feel depleted or exhausted?
- Have you become uncharacteristically forgetful or absent-minded? For example, do you find yourself standing in the supermarket aisle wondering what you went in to buy?
- Are you more prone to making mistakes?
- Do you feel replenished after sleep or feel like you have to drag yourself out of bed to get through another day?
- Do you routinely escape into over-eating or alcohol or drugs to help you cope?
- Does it seem like it is all too hard to make decisions? (even simple decisions like what to prepare for dinner, or what clothes to wear)
- Do you wish you could just run away! Or put everything on stop for a while?
- Are you short fused and/or easily irritated?
- Do you worry, feel anxious or down and wonder what’s wrong with you?
- Do you feel angry more and more of the time?
- How long has it been since you had a truly relaxing holiday? (not the kind of frenetically busy and stressful holiday where you need another holiday to recover from it!)
If you recognise the symptoms listed above, then it is definitely time to step back and take stock.
You may like to read the companion post on Burnout Remedies.
Counselling can be a huge help in reducing the stress overload. Learning how to deeply relax is a wonderful experience. Anxiety and emotional issues can be eased. Effective strategies tailored to you, can be set up to take you out of the danger zone.
Putting it off and forcing yourself to keep going takes you deeper into burn out territory. Catch it early and you can turn it around more quickly.