What is burnout and how can you avoid it?
Does this sound familiar?
You wake up, take care of the kids, then head off to a full day of work. You give your best to your job, but there’s no doubt that you’re exhausted and running on empty. Then you get home, make dinner, check the kids’ homework, wash the dishes… and somehow your day is over. You’ve barely had a second to yourself, and you’re too tired to spend any more time doing anything other than crawling into bed.
If that schedule I just described sounds anything like yours, you might be dealing with burnout.
Burnout isn’t just some kind of obscure problem. It’s actually classified in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases as an “occupational phenomenon.” And a 2018 Gallup poll found that two-thirds of U.S. employees surveyed experienced some level of burnout.
What exactly is burnout? Burnout is defined as “feeling empty and mentally exhausted [and] having no motivation.” And the feeling of burnout often leads people to lose hope that things will ever improve.
While stress can lead to burnout, stress and burnout aren’t the same thing. When you’re stressed, you’re faced with too much to do and it’s overwhelming. When you’re burnt out, you’re beyond stressed: you no longer have the energy to deal with things, and you’re emotionally spent.
Why women disproportionately experience burnout
Unsurprisingly, burnout is a phenomenon that hits women the hardest. Despite the fact that women have joined the workforce in increasing numbers over the past several decades, women are still primarily responsible for managing their households and children.
A survey conducted by LeanIn.org found that women who have full-time jobs, partners and children spend an average of 7.4 more hours per week than men on childcare, 7 more hours than men on housework, and 5.3 more hours caring for elderly or sick relatives. That averages out to women spending nearly 20 more hours per week taking care of things outside of their full-time job than their male counterparts.
The pandemic only served to solidify this inequality. Women were drastically more likely to have to quit their jobs in order to deal with the lack of childcare.
What burnout does to your body
Burnout doesn’t just manifest in how you feel emotionally. As I talk about a lot, everything is integrated. If you’re experiencing burnout, your body will undoubtedly begin to show the signs. Some ways your body might manifest burnout include:
Problems with sleep
Lack of energy
Blood sugar dysregulation
All of these issues can feed into one another. Anxiety can lead to sleep problems, which can contribute to lack of energy… you can see how it can become a cycle if not dealt with.
3 Ways to fight burnout
So, what can you do to combat burnout? Here are some ideas.
Acknowledge that you simply can’t do it all. You are only one person, and you have limits. Take the weight of the world off your shoulders. If there are people in your life who expect you to be able to do it all, it’s time to have an honest conversation about your needs.
Set and maintain boundaries. Once you recognize you can’t do it all, you can begin to set boundaries that reflect that. Maybe you need to set aside one night a week where there are no activities, so you can just recharge. Or maybe you need to send out an email to your office to let everyone know you won’t be answering emails after 5 pm.
Reexamine your expectations. If your expectation is to give your best at work, spend meaningful time with your family, take care of yourself, AND have a clean house 24/7, you’re pretty much guaranteeing your own burnout. Instead of trying to do it all, prioritize what matters. Let the rest go.
Getting help for burnout
Many of the clients I work with in my integrative counseling practice have experienced some level of burnout. They’ve often dealt with the effects of burnout for a long time before finally seeking help. The sooner you can begin to make the necessary changes to combat burnout, the sooner you can start feeling better and enjoying your life.
If you’re ready to get help to address your burnout, I’d love to help you. Through integrative counseling, we can address the physical and mental/emotional problems you’re facing and work toward a holistic approach to healing. Click here to get on my waitlist.
The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.