By Pon Angara, VisionReady storyteller
I know what you might be thinking: “It’s only February and you’re bringing up burnout. Why? Shouldn’t you be talking about the Super Bowl LVII? How about Valentine’s Day? Yeah, these happened just a few days ago, but burnout?”
Calm down, my friend, and BREATHE….in…and out…now, RELAX.
It’s never too early, nor too late, to talk about burnout because by the time you realize you have it, you’re already knee-deep (maybe even neck-deep) in it.
Don’t stop BREATHING….in…and out…now, LISTEN.
Let me start by saying that I’ve been burned out so many times that I’ve accepted it as a friend. I know that sounds weird and contradictory to what we’re trying to do here but hear me out. It’s not my BFF. No way! It’s a friend that drops by unannounced with a dish it wants you to try—a dish that ends up in the trash after you taste it and vow, never again—until you’ve learned to see this friend’s face as a useful warning. We all have that one friend—yes?
Do you know what burnout is?
The official definition of burnout is wide-ranging: “physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward oneself and others,” according to the American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology.
So how do you avoid this friend setting foot in your house again and again?
Know the signs. They’re mentioned in the definition above. For me, it’s when I feel fatigued in the middle of the day, even after having three mugs of coffee (I don’t do decaf). Yes, I’m sure there might be other factors causing the fatigue like poor sleep and underlying health conditions but it’s enough of a red flag that deserves at least a visit to your doctor or therapist.
Give yourself permission. Tell yourself it’s ok to take the afternoon off. Or the weekend without checking email. Schedule regular short breaks in the day like you would schedule a business meeting. It’s important enough and warrants a dedicated block of time on your calendar.
Protect your mind. Trying to be well-informed about current events and staying positive continues to be a balancing act. I’ve learned to take in the news in small doses. There’s been so much negativity that gets media spotlight throughout each day and it’s up to you to filter them through.
Keep human connections real. I’m not talking about social media. I’m talking about picking up the phone and listening to a caring voice on the other end. I still prefer in-person, face-to-face conversations that enable physical human touch that include firm handshakes and long, warm hugs.
Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten what it means to be a real human being toward others and toward ourselves. I remain hopeful that we can reverse that. You can’t create an app for that, but YOU CAN BREATHE, RELAX, and LISTEN.
VisionReady offers wellness programs that aim to counter the effects of burnout and prevent it from happening in the first place. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (305) 791-2610.