Are We All Burned Out?
Hi. I'm back - did you miss me? Don't answer that!
It's been a while. I kept meaning to come back to this blog and update it, but the pandemic has taken a fair bit out of me both personally and professionally and it's been difficult to find the motivation to keep writing. But I'm back, with a blog about burnout.
I figured that burnout would be a good thing to talk about in my first blog post back because it's one of a handful of words that I've been hearing a lot recently - up there with "self-care," "resilience," and "fatigue" - and don't worry, there will be blogs on those topics as well I'm sure. But for now, I'm wondering whether we're all burned out and if so, what we can do about it.
Can't adult today. Tired wolf.
So what is burnout? Well, according to several online sources, it's a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Exhaustion can be mental, physical and emotional, and it's typically linked to work. In fact, in 2019 the WHO referred to burnout as an "occupational phenomenon." And therein lies the problem for me.
Burnout isn't just about your job
When we talk about burnout, it seems almost inextricably linked to what you do for a living. We all know that through the pandemic the lines between work life and home life have blurred, and if you find yourself answering emails at 10pm or lying awake at night thinking about the jobs you have to do tomorrow you're definitely not alone. But I think that burnout transcends your work life - there's a global pandemic on (yes, still), there's a whole host of things going on in the world that make your eyes burn if you look at them too closely, social media can be a force for good or evil depending on the day, and we're all still just tying to get by. Who says we can't just be "burned out" in general, with work having little to do with it?
Feeling burned out sucks
Talk about stating the obvious, right? But do you actually know what we mean by "feeling burned out"? It's not just anxiety, although that's part of it, and it's not just tiredness, although that's part of it too.
Some of the symptoms of burnout include:
Part of the reason that burnout sucks is that the same thought process that slowly turns your thoughts more cynical and negative can easily convince you that nothing can change and that you'll always feel this way. That, coupled with physical symptoms like tiredness or headaches, can make you feel even worse.
Your brain is a liar
This guy? Well-intentioned, but doesn't always have the best idea at how to help.
The good news is that burnout can be managed - but it won't happen overnight, and it won't happen unless you step away from the things that are making you feel burned out for a little while. I promise, they'll still be there when you come back. Your brain's a good liar, but even though it will try to convince you that things are hopeless and you can't feel any better - you can. It just takes some effort.
If you're feeling burned out:
If you've been feeling burned out, tell me how you've managed it in the comments.
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Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects