Burn out. It’s a real thing and I’m very, very prone to it.
I put my heart and soul into a lot of things that I do—especially when it comes to work. And while that attitude generally produces pretty great results, I end up feeling crushed on the inside.
Apart from the extreme exhaustion, I feel like I forget how to be truly in the moment and to enjoy the company of my family and friends. I forget the things that I love doing, like reading novels, writing, being active and having conversations about films.
These are some of the things that fill my heart with joy and pleasure. But when my mind is so caught up with work, and yes I mean even work that I enjoy, it inevitably feels like work and it also drains me when I think about it.
At one point I sort of accepted that maybe that’s how it goes for everyone. We have some long days, and they’re dreadful, but that’s just what we have to do.
And while that is true, that every job has its difficulties and we won’t love every day of it, I think we each have our limits as to what we’re willing to put ourselves through.
If you don’t like talking about your work, if even the thought of it sickens you, that might be a sign that you’re feeling burnt out. I don’t necessarily think that it means the job isn’t meant for you. Maybe it is. Maybe you really do love it.
But it could be a matter of learning how to switch off. As much as you love your work, I believe that knowing when to put it aside goes a long way.
1. Creating a balance
This is something I’m still working on, which is to find a balance between work and personal time. Every job has a different schedule, and some may even require you to put in more hours than others. But it’s how you create a distinction between work and play that makes all the difference.
We’re all unique—some of us may need a longer time to recuperate, while others may need just a couple of hours. Figure out what works best for you through trial and error.
2. Trusting what your body is telling you
I do find that practicing mindfulness helps a lot. Being aware of how you feel and how you’re reacting to others can help you tune in to yourself better.
If you find that even after a full night’s rest, you wake up still feeling tired, it could mean that your mind hasn’t truly switched off from work. This was true for me even while I was in university. I was perpetually stressed out, and even when I was supposed to be resting, it didn’t feel like I slept at all.
I find that just being aware of this helped me to see where my stress levels were at and how much it was affecting me.
3. Breathing and meditating
I think the concept of meditation is still very foreign to a lot of people. And that’s fine. I couldn’t really get into it before this even after reading about its benefits countless times.
One day, I was tired of how I felt like my thoughts and feelings were taking over my life. I was willing to try anything that could help. And unfortunately, exercising just didn’t cut it for me. Watching videos was a good distraction, but it was only a temporary release. I needed something to help to redirect my focus from overthinking and worrying to being present again.
So I tried it. I challenged myself to meditate every day for a few months, and while it was hard at first, it became something I looked forward to as part of my routine.
If you’re not into meditation, breathing is a huge help as well. Taking five to ten deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed out can make you feel more centered.
4. Allowing your friends and family to be transparent with you.
I also find it helpful to allow your close ones to call you out when you’re being too absorbed in work. They’re the ones who would know you best, and when it feels like you’re straying from your usual self, they’d probably be able to notice.
However, they would likely care about your feelings and may not always point out when you’re too caught up with work. After all, they want to be supportive of your career. But letting them know that you want them to be honest with you can be a good motivator to switch off from work whenever you can.
5. Prioritizing your happiness so you can give more.
Lastly, it all comes down to priorities. When you don’t care about your mental and physical health, it’ll show in your work and relationships. You may be too exhausted to put your energy into work and you might also be less present with your loved ones.
Remember that you’re the core of it all.
What are some of the ways that you switch off?