So what signs should you be looking for to know if you are entering the “danger” zone of burnout? Well, it depends where you are along the road that can lead there. There are several stages:
- The “Super driven” zone
Your days are very full, you have been working more 60+ hours a week on a normal basis for many months or even years, you are in constant activity, « hyper » mode, brain always busy, constantly spinning around with ideas even when not working. You tend to wake up early, even before the alarm rings, your brain already whirling with to-do lists and ideas about work.
- The “Losing it” phase
At this stage, the pressure increases, you are starting to feel a bit overwhelmed, possibly frustrated or anxious. You keep pushing, you keep going but you are finding harder to focus, to memorise, to think with clarity. Your attention span is diminishing and interruptions really irritate you. You need several cups of coffee to keep going during the day. You have reached the “emergency” stage: now is the time to react before you hit the wall.
- The crisis phase
Reserves are depleted, adrenal exhaustion starts. You are worn out, drained, but cannot relax or recuperate. You are exhausted all the time, with sleep not providing relief or improvement. You have officially entered burnout state.
So what could you put in place to avoid getting there? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Take a break
Our body and mind are not meant to be working non-stop. Only a few seconds of break can make a big difference on your energy levels come the end of the day. So, take a break, make a pause, have time off, silent times. Call it anything you want but do it.
Daily Micro-breaks: Several times a day, take a 30 seconds to 2 minutes break, close your eyes, breathe out deeply, let your shoulders down and focus only on your breathing. If you want to make it up to 5+ minutes, excellent, but keep in mind that it is more efficient to have several very short breaks rather than one longer one.
Shut down the electronic devices
Switch everything off at the very least 30 minutes before going to bed. And have times during the day/week when you are not connected.
Know your limits
Listen to yourself, get to know yourself, your needs, limits and rhythms: do you know how much sleep you need and at what time? Do you know when you work at your best?
Try listening to how you are feeling walking, working, cooking, eating…
Be more mindful
As often as possible, try to do one thing at a time. All the studies show that multitasking is very inefficient and will only deplete your energy.
Have a walk outside at lunch time and take time to notice how you feel, how you breathe, how fast or slow you are walking, what is around you. Enjoy that ray of sunshine, find something beautiful to look at!
Spend time doing something you love
What is it that makes you tick, refreshes your mind, makes you laugh and feel great? What about having more of that?
So, what about getting started? And of course, as always, watch those long hours at work!