You get burned out by doing a little too much, too often—for too long. Thinking you can manage. Because that’s how it happens.
Nobody gets burned out on purpose.
We suffer from burnout because we think we’re different. We think we are stronger or have more energy. Or we think we don’t have a choice.
But most of all we think we have more time. More time before we get to the point of no return. Before we get to the point where we’ve stretched and depleted ourselves beyond what our body and mind can handle.
We are slowly burning out because we don’t fully believe there’s a limit to what we can do.
I know that’s how it happened for me. Not consciously. I wasn’t running around thinking I was invincible.
I just felt I had to do all the things I did. To me that was logical. There was no doubt in my mind that the work I did at my corporate marketing job had to be of a high standard. No doubt that I had to run a smooth household. No doubt that I had to be a good daughter, girlfriend, partner, sister and employee.
It didn’t occur to me to say “no” when my boss was transferred and a lot of her work fell in my lap. It was totally logical to me I had to be there for my boyfriend and his family when my father-in-law passed away.
I did all these things not just because it was expected of me—but because I expected it of myself.
What was not obvious to me was to wonder whether I was running myself ragged doing all these things.
It didn’t occur to me to check in with my body and see how it (and I) was doing. How the emotional roller-coaster of my father-in-law’s loss was affecting me, too. How the demands of my job—worsened by my own perfectionism and high sense of responsibility—were impacting my brain and my health.
Getting burned out is a slippery slope. It’s an accumulation of too many “yeses” that should have been “no” or “not now.” A downhill slide that’s so gradual that we don’t see it happening. The increase in brain fog, the lowering of our energy, the buildup of small signs that our body is overtaxed.
The changes don’t really stand out. Not in the least because we’re too busy to notice something is off—if it even occurs to us to wonder.
I remember my parents warned me about getting burned out. I thought they were being annoying. Because I had no time to stop and pause and reflect.
Perhaps subconsciously I knew if I slowed down long enough, my adrenalin levels would drop to a point where I would recognize my exhaustion. But as long as I kept busy, I wasn’t (yet) confronted with the effects of depleting myself.
That’s how we get burned out. Because we are blind to the havoc we wreak on our bodies. We’re so busy surviving, getting through another day and check more things off our to-do list that we simply don’t notice the signs our bodies are giving us. Because we learned to drone those out long ago.
It’s time to take a break. It’s time to pause and take inventory. It’s time to slow down and start taking (better) care of yourself. Even if you think you are doing really well with your self-care, chances are there’s an area where you’re being hard on yourself. where you’re not yet setting the boundaries where you would like them to be.
If you want super practical tips and powerful insights to uplevel your self-care and get a grip on your energy (and your life) then my book Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love is perfect for you 🙂
This book will help you get back in touch with your body and what it’s trying to tell you. So you can start to slow down and recoup before you damage your physical body.
Have a day full of energy and inspiration!
PS Do you know anyone who might benefit from this article? Feel free to forward this post to them 🙂