Am I heading for burnout?

We hear this term a lot – in fact you will have heard me talk about burnout in previous blogs – but what exactly is it? And what are the signs that you may be affected?

 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. 

 

Yes, we all feel tired and even exhausted at times, but there is usually a clear reason for it and it’s usually self-limiting. Once we get the opportunity to re-charge our batteries we’re good to go again.

 

But burnout is a gradual process; it creeps up on us. Because the early signs are subtle, we don’t always notice them, or at least we don’t pay attention to them.   If only we could recognise the warning signs and realise that something needs to be addressed, perhaps we would take action and prevent the downward spiral into burnout?

 

We often make light of stress, simply accepting it as something we have to put up with, perhaps not even recognising it for what it is – it’s just another chore on the list. We throw on our Superwoman cape and keep on juggling all our responsibilities!  In fact, a certain amount of stress can actually be motivating to help us get things done. The problems start when it becomes persistent and unrelenting, and we end up in Superwoman mode permanently. 

 

Women are 60% more likely to suffer burnout than men, because we rely on adrenaline to fuel our Superwoman tendencies. Without getting into a biology lesson here, we simply don’t have the same amount of testosterone as men to help deal with persistent stress. Living life in Superwoman mode is unsustainable and consistently high adrenaline levels ultimately make us sick. 

So what are the signs of burnout? I think it’s clearer if we divide them into three main groups

 

Physical:

Feeling tired, exhausted all the time

Frequent headaches 

‘Run down’ – low immunity, catching every cough and cold

Change in appetite or sleep habits

 

Emotional:

Sense of failure and self-doubt

Feeling disengaged and disillusioned with work or life in general

Lack of job satisfaction and decreased sense of accomplishment

Feeling cynical, pessimistic and negative

‘It all feels like too much trouble’

Feeling helpless and hopeless

Lacking in emotions, feeling detached and ultimately this may lead to depression

Life may not seem worth living

 

Behavioural: 

Loss of motivation and withdrawing from social life

Not fulfilling our responsibilities

Being indecisive or procrastinating 

Skipping work

Taking frustrations out on others

Resorting to drugs, alcohol etc. to help cope

 

Although I’ve said stress is the main cause of burnout, it’s perhaps the context of that stress in relation to your life and personality traits which is important.

 

Whether you’re overworked in a high-pressure environment, frazzled by commitments such as house, kids and ageing parents or you simply haven’t had a holiday in years, you run the risk of burnout. This tends to be compounded if there is no recognition for your efforts, or you’re doing a monotonous job or you have no control over your working situation. 

 

Your lifestyle impacts you when you have no free time for relaxing or socialising, you have no supportive relationships, you take on too many responsibilities and you don’t sleep well. 

 

Personality traits like perfectionism and high achieving tendencies lead to a greater risk of burnout. If you take on too much, because you prefer to be in control rather than delegating, this too can be a risk factor.

 

So are you recognising some of the signs? Have you become aware that you too are trying to cope by being Superwoman (and you’ve decided you’d like to take off your cape)? Let me reassure you there is a way to turn things around.

 

I introduce my clients to the 5 women’s PowerTypes™ which are a group of archetypes we can all easily recognise and whose different energies can help us get through whatever life throws at us. 

 

Queen will help you to set boundaries about how much you are prepared to put up with and to be more decisive in general. 

Sorceress will help you feel more connected with your intuition, your gut instinct to know when something feels right or wrong. 

Mother will keep you grounded and will bring patience and encouragement both for the people you encounter and for yourself. 

Warrioress will bring energy to get the job done, but also fun and playfulness to lighten up your life.

Lover will strengthen your relationships whilst also nourishing your physical and emotional needs. 

 

All five work together to replenish your energies and allow you to continue to serve others and make the impact you want to make without feeling depleted. 

 

When you learn how to leverage the different strengths of the PowerTypes™ you will be able to address some of the symptoms of burnout and turn things around. You will be just as effective (if not more so) but will find yourself doing things with much more ease and flow, leaving you more energised and surprisingly with more free time.

 

I will be talk about and work with the five PowerTypes™  in my client sessions to reveal all the different ways they can help. Book a call with me to find out more about how I could help you find and work with your natural strengths and avoid burnout. 

 

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