Burnout was already prevalent prior to the emergence of COVID19, but today we are more likely than ever to be showing symptoms of burnout.
One key cause is that as humans, we are used to feeling in control of our lives. COVID19 has caused that control to be ripped from our (extremely sanitized) hands. This confrontation with our lack of actual control gives rise to existential distress which can easily translate into panic, especially with some fear-driven news media to fuel the fire.
An existential crisis on top of all kinds of well-founded concerns about our health, finances and future, and those of people we love? No wonder most of us are feeling frazzled right now.
Technically, burnout is an occupational syndrome. It happens on the job. But now the job is at home, or for some no longer existent (friends who are freelancers and gig workers have already been hit hard), it’s worth keeping an eye on how we are feeling on a burnout scale.
Am I showing symptoms of burnout?
Make a note of how many of these statements you agree with:
- I don’t feel passion for my work anymore
- I generally feel emotionally flat or numb
- I get irritable with other people easily
- It doesn’t matter how much I sleep, I’m always tired
- My mood changes often
- I feel stuck
- I struggle to concentrate
- I don’t feel motivated
- Nothing satisfies me anymore
- My productivity is low, despite long hours
- I’m harder and less sympathetic with people than I probably should be
- I feel that I have no one to talk to
- I’m more cynical than I used to be
- I’ve pulled back from my social life
- I don’t feel hopeful about my career
- I’m self-medicating – food, alcohol, drugs, more work…
- I feel like I’m in the wrong job or profession
- I feel trapped
- I don’t laugh much anymore
- Sleep, weekends and vacations no longer refuel me
(I haven’t tailored these to a COVID scenario, to give you a feel for what burnout outside of these strange times might consist of.)
Which ones apply to you? How many were SORT OF and how many were overwhelmingly HOLY SHIT YES?
What do I do if I’m showing symptoms of burnout?
If you find yourself experiencing some of the symptoms of burnout, do three things.
1. Pay yourself extra care and attention. I’m talking next-level care and attention, like you are the cutest most precious little animal you’ve ever laid eyes on and you want to adore, pet, snuggle and look after you forever. Feel free to spend some time visualizing yourself as that cute little animal.
Now be as gentle, compassionate, understanding, forgiving and patient towards yourself as you would to that animal. If you’re used to being your own biggest critic this can be hard, as it may throw light on just how mean you have been to yourself. Persist, with extra doses of compassion, patience and forgiveness.
2. Talk to someone about how you are feeling. Friends, family, and ideally also a coach or professional psychologist (there are heaps online. I offer the first session free & no obligation so hit me up!). Level about what’s going on. Burnout is impossible to combat by yourself. Reach out right now and start to open up.
3. Find online resources that work for you. One of the upsides to COVID is the amount of tools that are being made available online to help us cope. Check out Gabby Bernstein, or Sounds True, or the incredible wealth of amazing lectures and meditations offered by Tara Brach. I also have 10am PST in my daily schedule to shake my bootie to Sofi Tukker’s live Instie and FB DJ sets. Get googling and find a resource or two that works for you.
In these times of physical distance, even if you share a home, you have to be your own best friend. You have to take care of yourself better than ever before. You have to step up and stop making excuses for not treating yourself like the goddamn miracle you are – for the sake of yourself as well as others.
If you’re feeling fully burnt out, I’ll address some steps to take towards healing in my next blog. In the meantime:
What will you do to be kind to yourself today?