Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Burnout: Physical or mental collapse from overwork or stress.
Many of us unknowingly have experienced all 5 stages of burnout. And if you are stuck in a job you do not love, experiencing daily severe stress, or have been trying to climb the success ladder (re: high school, college, car, house, spouse, kids, promotion, retire) without enjoying where you currently are, then you might be stuck in stage 5: Habitual burnout, which means burnout symptoms have become your way of life.
I am always surprised when my 20-something-year-old friends talk to me about the job they hate but stick with anyways, the boyfriend that treats them like less than the Queen that they are and they stick with him anyways, or how they are worried about finding their one purpose for the rest of their life (spoiler alert: you can and should try out many different interests for your whole life!)
If you are holding on to something that doesn’t make you happy, I have some great news for you: you are probably in Club Burnout! This is great news because it means you get the beautiful opportunity for self-improvement, which is basically the reason your soul is here to experience life on Earth. If you feel stuck or lack passion in your life, it most likely is stemming from a lack of personal growth. You should always be seeking and learning something new, even if it is just how to make kombucha, finding a line-dancing tutorial on YouTube, or cutting your hair to learn how to style your bangs. Adding curiosity into your life will improve your quality of life, because you are adding to your self-worth by learning something (literally anything) new.
I specifically remember a time where I experienced my own personal brew of burnout. I started a job I thought I loved in the events industry. I met so many new people and was excited by the change of scenery. I loved getting to learn the behind-the-scenes of a new business and really felt passionate in the beginning. Then, I started to feel overworked and my muscles physically were in pain. I started to feel unmotivated to go to my job and played the dangerous “snooze button” game in the morning instead of my usual peppiness to get up and rock it. I also started to complain, which was super unlike me. I would complain about my hours, my muscle fatigue, the lack of organization in certain parts of my job, and I felt more negativity push me down every time I was there.
My body physically got so burned out that I developed a bladder infection, which I have never had before and really hurts, by the way. I literally thought I was dying for a hot minute. I had to take a day off of work that was really important, but I couldn’t do my job if I had to pee every 5 minutes, and I couldn’t heal from the bladder infection if I overworked my body (or held my pee). The point of this riveting pee story is that if you don’t recognize your own symptoms of burnout, your body has the power to shut you down and it really does not care how anal your boss is about sick days. Your connection to your mind, body, and spirit is very important to catch signs of dis-ease before it gets out of control.
Here are the 5 Stages of Burnout
1. Honeymoon Phase - Happy, committed, “excited” stress
This is the phase where beginning something new has you excited. The passion gives you energy. For me, this was the thrill of beginning a new job combined with my love of learning something new.
2. Onset of stress - Awareness of more difficult days
The excitement of “newness” has worn off, tasks become regular again. This is the point where I learned my job well and knew what I was showing up to each day. I started to feel fatigued and wasn’t thrilled to go to work anymore.
3. Chronic stress - Physical, mental, or emotional stress on a frequent basis
You are going through the motions and the motions are wearing on you physically, mentally, or emotionally. This begins to suck energy from you. For me, this was the point where I just wanted to stay in bed and was complaining more often.
4. Burnout - Classical definition of the word, continuing as normal is not healthy
Your body, mind, or spirit has collapsed from overwork or stress. You will either continue in pain, or have to grow in a new way. This was the point where I got sick and had awful pee problems. My body literally made me take a break.
5. Habitual burnout - Symptoms become a way of life
If you keep going as you are, you will adopt feelings of pain and stop noticing the dis-ease you are feeling. To avoid this, I took the hint that this job wasn’t for me and I re-evaluated how I could work in a healthy way.
Have you experienced burnout symptoms before? Next week, I will share my tips for maintaining your energy and preventing burnout. For now, I hope you can take inventory of where your own body, mind, or spirit is before burnout becomes a way of life and to stop it in its tracks. You are well on your way to living your fullest life!
Love Peace Positivity,