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Ahhhhhh, burnout. What a Monday topic amiright???
Battling burnout was a specific request from y’all on my reader survey back in the day (BTW, I loveloveLOVE when you guys request topics you wanna see – it lets me know I’m creating helpful content for y’all! So pleasepleaseplease drop some requests in this form!). And I think it’s SUCH A GOOD ONE, cos we’ve all #BeenThereDoneThat at one point or another, I think. Burnout can manifest a bit differently and for a bit different reasons for all of us, but the end feeling is typically the same – just sucky. Total exhaustion, lethargy, and just a big fat MEH on anything + everything you typically enjoy. So, no bueno.
For me, burnout is super predictable. If/when I’ve been going 90 mph for too many days, it’s bound to hit. It starts to feel uncontrollable, and the second I start losing any semblance of control over my own life and feel like others are taking over as pilot, it starts to creep in. Beyond just too much too fast, tho, I also start to burn out if/when there’s a too-slow period in my business, or things just feel slow, dull, and/or generally uninspired. I’m someone who needs constant movement + positive inspiration around me to stay on the right track, so I tend to experience mini-burnouts, so to speak, on the reg here.
SO, let’s talk some signs, causes, + how I personally battle burnout.
Signs of burnout:
- Easily agitated
- Lower energy overall
- Trouble sleeping
- Less interest in tasks you normally enjoy
- Physical manifestation – headaches, back pain, neck tension, etc
- Less engagement at work, or distancing yourself from others more
- Increased cynicism/bitterness/resentment
- A general BLAH or MEH feeling that won’t go away
Causes of burnout:
I could take pretty educated guesses on some causes of burnout from my own personal experience/knowledge, but of course, I want da #facts for y’all. So what I found super interesting: the Association for Psychological Science breaks it down into 3 main causes of burnout that any other factor can pretty much be bucketed into. They are:
- Overload – Your commonly recognized cause, when we just are too overloaded with #AllTheThings happening in our mind + in our lives.
- Lack of development – This is when we’re being under challenged in life. So for me, this is when I mentioned above about feeling dull, uninspired in work; falling into the same ol’ routine and/or just no longer feeling challenged in your work can cause burnout symptoms.
- Neglect – This one was suuuuuuper interesting to me – it’s when we give up in the face of fear. Which apparently leads to burnout, too!
Some other burnout causes to note…
- Too much work – Which ties directly to overload!
- Not enough help – Also still ties to overload, in just being overloaded without a sense of teamwork or relief.
- Feeling unclear on goals – This lack of clarity can tie into lack of development.
- Feeling unclear on purpose – Samesies here…just feeling kinda meh + purposeless.
How I battle burnout:
- Treat the disease, not the symptoms. If, for example, you’re getting headaches more frequently than before, you could just pop some ibuprofen…but that wouldn’t really be smart, without first figuring out WHY you’re getting headaches. A headache from burnout is totally different in every sense than a headache from, say, your time of the month, or needing caffeine. So get down to the deeper “disease” before symptom-spotting.
- Up your self-efficacy. Psychology Today says “Self-efficacy is having the belief in your own ability to accomplish (and exercise control over) personally meaningful goals and tasks. People who have a stronger level of perceived self-efficacy experience less stress in challenging situations, and situations in turn become less stressful when people believe they can cope.” Up it by being your own best hype woman, #1 cheer squad, and wing woman all in one. Actively develop healthy mindset practices. Intentionally eliminate negative self talk. Keep it real, but keep it as real with the GOOD as you inevitably are with the bad (since we women sometimes have this not-so-hot tendency to be great at berating ourselves, and awful at acknowledging our own awesome).
- Set strict rules for yourself. This is one I personally HAVE to follow to a T to avoid burnout at all costs. And apparently, it’s one that famous leaders + badass businesspeople also swear by. But the quickest + easiest way I burn out is by losing control over my own life, which often comes from allowing others to dictate my day-to-day instead of being the captain of my own ship. If it turns into a free for all, it’s def not FUN for all – or any, really. My day has to have strict rules at certain/many points to stay on track, which might sound harsh…but I swear it’s how to make it happen! I HAVE to get up early (no snoozing!) to start working, but need time to have Christian music playing while I eat some breakfast. Something as simple as that being in my morning routine has to be there, or else the day will start with no Jesus and no food, which is a HELLA bad combo that sets everything else up for meh. Another biggie: having strict end times to your day. Especially in entrepreneur world, this is SO KEY to avoiding burnout! And so many of the “experts” I linked to above say the same thing: you need that strict rule there to be intentional about your time, especially when you’ve got workaholic tendencies (#guilty) and can just go go go Energizer-bunny style ’til you’re in the tomb. So for me, while my end time isn’t the same every single day, I DO have to be suuuuuper intentional about separating work from non-work. Even if that means just not being on Instagram when we’re watching Netflix, or keeping my laptop in my office at the “end” of the day.
- Acknowledge when your perfectionism is standing in the way of real progress. Where my fellow perfectionists at??? Truth bomb alert: Sometimes our perfectionistic tendencies can be sending us straightaway on the path to Burnout Central. And because we’ve got our blinders on to see + critique our own work, we can’t even SEE we’re on the path until we arrive at the not-so-pearly gates. Perfection in work doesn’t lead to perfection in anything else. And half the time (*cough* all the time), perfection period doesn’t exist. Perfection is arbitrary. Being too hung up on achieving it can send us on this wild goose chase that ends with us just feeling TIRED + defeated, with the end goal still not met. The perfect formula for burnout. So beware!
- Acknowledge that balance is a unicorn. Sometimes the quest for this mystical, arbitrary “balance” is more stressful than the actual things in our lives that we’re trying to balance in the first place! Instead, strive for ~harmony~. Every single day may be different, and every single day may require different pieces to move to feel more balanced on one side or another. But don’t look for this balance to always be there, because it won’t always (or ever) really be. Instead, try to make the pieces mesh together as best possible. The actual loads may not balance the scale evenly, but if you can make them still work without making the scale fall over altogether, it can still lead to a very doable, content lifestyle.
- Workout. I notice SUCH a difference in myself in literally every single way possible when I’m working out consistently versus not. I feel better + I look better, but most importantly, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. That endorphin release is unbeatable. It just leads to so many good feels being pumped through your body, and I feel so much stronger across the BOARD. Starting my day with a quick gym sesh is a surefire way to ensure that NO ONE CAN MESS WITH ME.
- Get crystal clear on goals. I’m such a goal snob it ain’t even funny. I LIVE for goals. (Enter, hit the goal, get the Gucci). So the second I’m working without one, I’m actually lost. There are all SORTA goals – long term, short term, etc – and you can have goals for literally any + every thing in your life, from work to relationships. But I strongly believe you’ve gotta have SOMETHING in place as a sort of action step plan to get ya from Point A to Point B ASAP. Cos if ya don’t have a map…sure, you might accidentally get there eventually, but it’s a guaranteed longer journey than just using the dang GPS from the get go. I avoid burnout altogether by always checking in with my own goals to see if I’m on track, and to essentially just analyse my day-to-day life to see what could/should be different to be better to be on that right path.
- Know thyself. I think this is haaaauuuuuuuge in being able to just now your own mind + body to track if/when you’re heading down Burnout Path. When you know how you are at your best versus not-so-best, it’s a helluvah lot easier to see good feels versus bad feels and know what’s coming from what roots. When your self-awareness is high, it’s easier to pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling, as well as WHY you’re feeling it – the double whammy combo when it comes to identifying potential burnout + beating it beforehand.
- Change up your scene. This ALWAYS helps me – like, always. Especially since I work from home, it can be HELLA HARD if/when I spend a solid 72 hours under my roof without leaving the front door. If I’m not careful…it can happen. My one glimpse of sunshine might be my mailbox run at 2 pm, and that’s it. Who does that?! Apparently, me. When I feel too cooped in, even if I’m not realizing it, my productivity starts decreasing at an ABSURD rate. And soon, I find myself on the couch for 5 hours, binging Riverdale and feeling too tired after one simple task. Literally, a coffee shop trip can save the day. Sometimes you’ve just gotta totally shake it up and go somewhere you typically don’t, to keep on the edge of yo’ toes. And working for a few hours somewhere else can do that for ya! If you don’t work from home, this might just mean sitting in another space in the office for the day – a conference room, or even a comfier work area. Mix it up to just see what refreshes your mood!
- Brain dump. My favorite thing ever. A brain dump is a MUST for me to start ID’ing if/when I’m falling into burnout territory ASAP. The second I feel off, I brain dump. Just do it.
- Invest in your people. I think what helps here is rule numero cuatro (#4) – knowing thyself. If you’re more extroverted, make sure you’re really connecting with people before ending each day. And if you’re more introverted, make sure you’re getting that time to yourself that you need, while still investing in your own people that really matter to you. It’s all personal here, really, in terms of how many peeps slash who specifically to talk to, but it’s important.
- Underschedule. OY VEY, someone hit me over the head with this one, MK? Avoid burnout by stopping scheduling yourself to death. Simple as that. I am the QUEEN of my calendar. I am also a delusional queen. So sometimes, I somehow think that if I just add it to my calendar, it’ll happen. Regardless of how many OTHER things are also already on that calendar. Intentionally UNDERscheduling is absolutely KEY for me to a.) not face burnout later, and b.) actually get done more of what I truly need to get done anyways.
- Put free time on your calendar. Another biggie. Cos if it’s not on the calendar, it just won’t happen. So if you’re like me and need to write “FREE TIME, 8 PM” on the calendar for it to actually be free, no shame in that game.
- AND “me” time. Just DITTO to the above.
- Break all projects down into bitesize pieces. The bigger the overwhelm, the bigger the burnout. When a project just looks gigundo, it’s SO easy to look + feel bigger than it is. Heck, even if it IS a big slash important ordeal, breaking it down into bitesize pieces makes it all th more digestable…and all the less likely to cause burnout later on.
- Exercise your creativity on the reg. Sometimes, a good creative project or hobby just works WONDERS. Do whatever ya gotta do (cos #4) and let yo’ creative juices run wild to just foster that piece of the brain that really needs it.
- Exercise the rest of yo’ brain, too. Ever see the show Genius Junior?? I lovelovelove catching it sometimes, just cos it helps work MY brain just as much as it’s working that 10-year-old genius contestants. The puzzles are designed to do that – to go from being mathematically challenging to linguistically, so that you’re just hopping back + forth between brain sides.
- Take time to declutter your mind actively. This is how I do that!
- Unplug. Waaaaaaay necessary in today’s plugged in age. Deconnect your thumb from your iPhone. Let it be in another room without panicking about missing something. Give yourself a *solid* chunk of time away from your email, your Facebook, your everything connected to a screen.
- Say no. Often. A favorite method of mine. If you’re a people pleaser and/or yes girl, you KNOW you’ve felt the pang of burnout that creeps in whenever you’re on too big of a yes streak. To avoid burnout altogether, practice regularly saying NO. Protect your time.
- Treat yo’self. Often. Yet ANOTHER personal favorite. 😉 Treat yo’self ties right in there with self care, I think. If you’re not taking the time to treat yo’self with the simple pleasures in life, you sure as heck won’t take the time for the BIG ones – and both in their due time are suuuuuper important for your overall happiness + wellbeing. Know when to give yourself the break, go grab a soft serve cone, stop work early to dive into your new thriller, draw a bubble bath with extra friggin’ big bubbles. This ties into the whole balance versus harmony thing. If you can’t always get actual BALANCE of time per task, you can at least try to create more ~harmony~ by adding more moments of pure joy than you have of pure meh. Those smaller moments of treat yo’self things that make ya reaaaaally happy can help to “balance” the scale of all of those meh moments, even if they’re not truly balanced in a time sense. It just creates more harmony in them working together in your day!
- Don’t skimp on sleep. Never ever. Even tho sometimes it’s downright impossible, really try to get those 8 hours in. It makes a SOLID difference in everything from how you feel on a given day, to how the day actually goes down, to how healthy you are/stay as the week goes on. It matters.
PHEW. That’s 2500+ words on a Monday morning…time to take a mini break for a TREAT YO’SELF before this day gets burnt out before it’s begun. 😉 Grab yo’ coffee and CONQUER, girlfriend.
Have you battled burnout before? How does it hit you? And what do you do when you feel burnout coming on to stop it in its tracks?
Share in a comment below, por favor – would lovelovelove to know what works for all of YOU.