When people think of burnout, they imagine it involves some spectacular sort of fiery crash. Like a plane or star falling from the sky. Or how we might read about an influencer crashing and burning in a celebrity gossip magazine. And sometimes this is the case. A woman will be flying high, seemingly doing all of the things. And then she suddenly crashes in a dramatic way, not to be heard of again for months and months. Those around her nod knowingly and mutter words like ‘well with everything she had going on, she was going to end up burned out’.
The thing is though, I rarely see burnout show up like that in my clients or my colleagues. Complete meltdowns happen way less often than we might think. Burnout is far more likely to show up in far more subtle ways. Ways that are so subtle that even the women experiencing them aren’t 100% certain that they’re actually suffering from burnout. And that’s where burnout can be particularly problematic.
Because let’s face it.
Burnout has never been a hallmark of any sort of fabulousness. Rather, it tends to be the reason that women find themselves in the middle of a marriage breakdown. Or a health crisis. And it drives many women to step away from careers, hobbies or volunteer activities they love. Which is precisely why knowing what some of the signs of being burned out are, so that you can be on the lookout for them, and make adjustments before things get completely out of hand.
Learn more about burnout on the podcast
I shared all about burnout on the Self.Styled.Life podcast. You can listen to the episode here, or on your favourite podcast player. Or feel free to keep reading below.
Signs of burnout you should look out for
- Extended feelings of apathy, especially for things you used to feel passionate about. We all go through patches where our excitement or energy for the things in our lives can wane a bit, or feel somewhat patchy. But if the apathy hangs around for longer than normal, then you may have taken on too much and burned yourself out.
- Lack of desire to do things that would normally interest you, like catching up with family or friends, attend classes or programs you’re enrolled in, your hobbies or creative outlets or exercise. If absolutely everything on offer brings up a feeling of ‘I can’t be bothered’ then burnout could be a cause.
- Losing track of time, dates and even weeks, especially if you’re not a generally forgetful human. I know that the last couple of years have messed with everyone’s perception of time. But if you find yourself losing weeks or dates creeping up on you or even past you, it could be worth exploring how hard you are pushing and whether you’ve burned out.
- You find it really hard to make decisions. Again, this is one to look out for if decisions normally come quickly or easily to you. If it feels like a decision or choice is beyond you, or you just don’t care one way or another it could be a signal of burnout.
If you suspect that you might actually be burned out, what can you do about it?
Like so many things in life, prevention is better than cure. And my signature framework of clarity, mindset and action can help women to style their lives in a way that supports them to avoid burnout in the first place.
But the same framework can help when you find yourself feeling burned out. The list I’m about to share is definitely more weighted to the action side of things. So I’m going to go out of order and kick off with action, before I head back to clarity and mindset.
- Book an appointment with your GP. Many of these signs could also be symptoms of underlying medical conditions or be caused by hormones or adrenal or mental health issues. You’re better to be safe than sorry. And a clean bill of health is only going to support your energy levels and your peace of mind.
- Build your boundaries. If you want long lived success on your terms, you need to learn to create boundaries. Boundaries are the actions you choose to take when you want to look after yourself – they’re all about changing your behaviours in a given moment rather than the behaviours of someone else. Honouring a boundary answers the question of how you will take care of yourself when you find yourself in a situation that leaves you feeling exposed, controlled, powerless, burnt out, resentful, frustrated or unfulfilled. There’s quite a lot to consider when it comes to boundaries, so if they are something that you feel like you’d like extra support with, make sure you head to my resource room where I’ve made my masterclass and info sheets on boundaries available to everyone.
- Consider creating what one of my own coaches calls white space. White space is yours to do whatever you like with – as long as it brings you pleasure. Many of my clients have shared that pleasure is the antidote to burnout. You might spend time napping on the couch. Or in nature. Or reading a book. Perhaps you’d like to go on a long walk. Anything pleasurable that basically allows your nervous system to take rest from all the shoulds and responsibilities we all have in front of us. One word of warning here. Try to avoid anything that might feel pleasurable in the moment but triggers your anxiety later. Shopping is a good example. The pleasure is completely undone if you beat yourself up for spending money later and then feel like you have to earn it back by working hard.
- Take on some energy or body work. One coach I know recommends massage to all her clients who are feeling burned out. And I know of humans who have even been given prescriptions for massages when they’ve been low on energy. The release of tension in the muscles and systematic movement brings you back into your body. Yoga also does a similar thing in terms of bringing you into both your body and the present moment. And using essential oils, visualisations and meditations can support the energy centres in the body. It’s also worth considering how you are nourishing both your body and mind through the food you take in and the content you’re consuming.
- Think about cutting back on screen time. Our brains are already stimulated by our jobs and our kids and our to-do lists without us needing to feed in the additional stimulation that comes with social media and news feeds of all sorts.
Clarity is one of the key ingredients necessary for self-styling your life. Without clarity on what you want and where you’re going you can waste so much of your life, aimlessly wandering, trying different things and never feeling like you’re making progress. Without clarity it’s also very easy to take on things that are offered to us without having any idea of whether they’re right for us. And doing things you don’t want to be doing or working in spaces you don’t want to be can be a fast track to burnout.
I consistently recommend 3 areas you need to be super clear on if you want to avoid burnout. And they are:
- Knowing what you value
- Knowing what you want your life to look like if your truly living with those values
- Understanding and defining what success looks like for you
I did a whole podcast episode on these three things way back in Episode 2 of the podcast. Interestingly it’s the most popular episode ever on Self.Styled.Life. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I suggest you go back and have a listen. Even if you have listened to it, go back for a refresher because clarity in these 3 areas can be game changing. You’ll find the episode here.
For me, mindset is all about finding ways to build our self-belief. And one of the ways we diminish our self-belief is via the stories we tell ourselves. If you think you might be suffering from burnout, please don’t use it as an opportunity to beat yourself up. Or ‘should’ all over yourself. Now is the time to be graceful, compassionate and kind to yourself. Don’t tell yourself stories about being weak or useless or any of those things. Congratulate yourself for recognising your burnout and for having the tools and resources to support yourself through it. Then pick one of the actions that we went through earlier. And start supporting your nervous system and your energy levels gently. It helps to pretend you’re supporting your best friend if they were going through something similar.
Do any of these signs of being burned out resonate with you? Feel free to let me know via DM or leave a comment down below.
And until next time – stay fabulous xx
Image credit: Haute Stock