// 19th June 2019
Burn Out - The Solution
By The Evolve team
The recession in Ireland sparked a time of turbulence in employment to say the least, from which an attitude of “prioritise hard work above all else” grew. You couldn’t expect to just walk out of University and step into a well-paid job, no one could just bank on full-time employment as was previously the case; all of which fostered this sense of “whatever it takes” peppered with a healthy sprinkle of fear. If I don’t get this apprenticeship, I won’t get a job, or, I won’t be able to afford College. If I don’t get a good job, I won’t be able to get a house. If I can’t afford a house who will want me? And the list goes on.
All of the above is what has so many of us working all the hours God sends. We say yes to everything for fear of missing out on something or offending someone, working until late and catching up on emails at the weekend – just in case. Our jobs play a massive role in defining us these days, we take them personally. As such, they’re causing burn out!
What is Burn Out?
Burnout is a state of chronic, low level stress that can leave you feeling exhausted physically and mentally, undervalued at work and at home and cynical about life. It can also manifest itself in a lack of sleep, muscle aches and bad habits – drinking more, smoking more or eating poorly because you can’t find the energy to cook.
The phrase “burnout” came to life in the 70’s as a result of the heavy workload placed upon nurses, doctors, solicitors. It was never associated with office workers or stay at home mums. This separation was made as stay at home mums for example where simply diagnosed with depression. Although depression and burnout have so many similarities, they are entirely different. Burnout is only recently being recognised as a real issue by medical professions, whereas depression has always been recognised as a clinical issue. That said, at its worst, burnout can actually lead to depression. Burnout is what happens when the pace of life begins to swallow you whole, when, we start piling things into our lives without considering what we can manage and what simply doesn’t make us happy. The worst part is, people don’t expect it from us more than we put pressure on ourselves to go to the gym, stay in work until late, maintain a social life, raise children, build a home, get involved in community initiatives.
The list is endless. A huge part of it is learning to say no – and to say it without the feeling of guilt. It is not possible to be all things to all people. We can be very willing to suffer in silence and martyr ourselves to an employer who firstly didn’t ask for it and second would most likely be willing to accommodate if we spoke up about our workload. As the saying goes the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so allow yourself to squeak!
There are no hard and fast rules, you don’t have to say, “I’m leaving work at 5pm every day and that’s that”. It could however form your habit and if something crops up you’re flexible to deal with the difference on that day. You could start earlier and finish earlier to suit your working day. You could do 5 days in 4 to maintain the pay but have a day at home, or, you could choose to work 4 days a week and have time at home, feeling guilt free when in work. Its about finding a norm that works for you and your circumstances. What’s right for me, won’t necessarily work for you and vice versa. Something you start today may not work for you 12 months down the line, that’s ok, make the changes that need to be made as they arise.
It’s not possible to run away from burnout, but we can regulate our lives so that we do what’s necessary and leave what isn’t. For example, is there a need or expectation to be on social media updating or checking messages at 10pm or is this something that can wait? When the feelings of burnout come, take timeout to recharge and refuel. It’s about empowering yourself, arming yourself and taking personal responsibility for your space, your life, your wellbeing.
It’s about accepting that only I can change me, so make the change you want to see and live the change you want to be!
By The Evolve Team