Lifestyle choices can greatly contribute to burnout. Chronic stress can take a toll with responsibilities in your home, work and personal lives. The nervous system lives on overdrive in order to get things done. Denial kicks in, and is only helpful for a short period of time when adjusting to stressful situations. When denial sticks around for a long period of time, burnout warning symptoms get ignored. The mind can easily play tricks with thoughts like “if I stop I won’t be able to start again to finish this project.” One of the first things I learned in occupational therapy school was the balance between work and play. I watched so many people struggle with finding balance before getting burned out. Here are warning signs for life burnout:
Not taking time off from work. I had a client who worked seven days a week. She rarely took time off; in fact, she actually cashed in her vacation time at the end of the year. Time away from the work place is important remember what it’s like to relax, sit and do nothing. Vacation from work and other stressors can help give perspective to a chaotic lifestyle. Plan days off and remember what it’s like to have peace of mind.
No time for play. I used to struggle when someone asked me what I liked to do in my spare time. I just didn’t know what to say. It clearly was a sign of lifestyle burnout. Enjoying pastimes after work can recharge your battery and allow you to keep going during stressful times.
Not enough sleep. Sleep is needed for the body to repair itself and to restore energy. When lack of sleep is a problem, you probably won’t be as tough in dealing with stress. You also won’t be able to focus and get as much done as usual. There are lots of tips to getting a good night’s sleep. Seek medical help if lack of sleep is a chronic problem.
Not enough support. When folks experience chronic stress and burnout, they sometimes want to cut themselves off from other people. Although it’s important to have alone time, having supportive people to turn to helps prevent burnout. If you find yourself isolating from others, reach out and connect with someone by phone or in person.