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Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

Tag: burnout (page 1 of 2)

 How To Recognize Burnout vs. Depression

“Ugh work is so depressing.”

“OMG I’m so burnt out on school.”

I’m sure you’ve heard these phrases before. I think most people have used the terms “burnout” and “depression” when they’re describing how tired they are. Since I cringe when diagnoses are used loosely, I want to discuss the difference between the two.

We know that depression doesn’t discriminate but burnout can have a profound effect on certain populations of people.

Who is likely to be affected by burnout?
  • Caregivers
  • Anyone with a job (seriously)
  • Helping professions (therapists, social workers, nurses, etc.)
  • Stay at home parents
  • Entrepeneurs
  • Creatives
  • First responders
  • Medical professionals
  • College students
  • Activists
Who is likely to be affected by depression?
  • Any human.

Although many of the signs of depression can mimic burnout, this ailment is directly linked to our professional or identifying roles. Anti-depressants can’t treat burnout. Depression is a serious diagnosis made by a licensed professional and can be life altering. It’s not an adjective to describe why you’re overworked or exhausted.

Many times burnout is driven by a person’s passion or obligation to someone else. Click To Tweet In young professionals, burnout is likely to occur when they walk in with 150% passion and drive, and their expectations are not met.

What are some of the signs of a person being burned out?

Tunnel vision: People who are burned out from their profession start to get narrow sighted. They may have forgotten why they are in this profession or why they are in school. They are also likely to forget what they’re grateful for. Tunnel vision causes someone to forget the compliment last week or the stellar deal they landed last month. The weight of their routine and daily stressors cause cynicism.

Overcomplaining: Unfortunately, burnout effects bleed into all areas of someone’s life. If they’re burned out at work, they’ll gripe about it at home, and vice versa. When someone starts complaining about everything, everywhere, it is usually a sign that they’re struggling somewhere in their schedule. This is harmful for helping professionals because a foul attitude affects how clients or patients are treated. As a helping professional I can’t roll my eyes or gripe out loud. I have learned to check that behavior and it’s usually a sign I need to adjust my schedule or increase my self-care.

Are You Ok?: If people you associate with start asking you this, beware. You’re definitely on the road to exhaustion. It may be wise to ask the person what differences they notice in you. If they can give helpful feedback, maybe they notice that you’re not eating, you’re cursing more, showing up late or you have snappy remarks. If you notice your “tells” then it won’t take a breakdown or one-on-one with the boss to make you snap out of your behavior.

Making More Mistakes: People who are burned out in their roles will put less effort into their usual tasks. Bosses will skip the agenda for meetings, parents will cook less meals, caregivers may neglect cleaning duties, etc. Studies have even shown that people with signs of burnout show different brain activity when doing normal tasks. Can you afford to make mistakes in your line of work because you’re not addressing your burnout?

How to deal?
  1. For caregivers in particular, find a way to delegate some responsibility or ask for respite. You need a break in your routine and even a few hours can make a difference. Find a way to change the routine with the person you care for. Watch a movie together, bring in exotic cuisine, rearrange pictures or furniture. Shake things up!

  2. If your burnout is work or school related, you could also benefit from a change of routine and scenery. Clean up the clutter in your work area, beautify your environment, add visual elements that promote peace, study in a new location, study at a different time of day, etc. The answer isn’t to quit your job or school. You have to make the time you spend manageable and fit it to your needs. And please assess whether you have vacation or sick time that is unused. I have been overwhelmed/burned out by my counseling schedule and had to plead to a former employer for an office day to catch up on paperwork. It may sound crazy but I actually looked forward to a day alone in my office, with some music and a schedule that allowed me to kill my stack of paperwork.

  3. Readjust your goals or projects. Maybe your burnout is due to poor boundaries. Are you taking on too much just to please someone? Did you take on a full course load at school just to prove to your family that you could handle it? For the sake of your mental health, you should reassess how much you’re willing to take on. Don’t martyr yourself when no one is going to notice or be supportive of your struggle.

Seriously, routines can kill us. Exhaustion and stress can lead us to the emergency room. No one sees what we go through except us. This means that no one knows what we need but us. Click To Tweet Unfortunately, it took being diagnosed with fibromyalgia to slow me down. And now I have no choice but to ask for help and to honor what my body needs. No one can heal me but me. And everyone deserves a break.

“Without self-correction we cannot thrive.”

 

 

 

Part 2: Coping Skills For Family Stress & Burnout

This post contains an affiliate link.

Last week’s post highlighted 3 coping skills (Taking Care Of Your Body, Setting Boundaries and Getting Organized)  that can assist you if you’re struggling with family stress or burnout (or both)!

These next 3 coping skills dig a little deeper.

Create A Buffer – If you’re feeling burnout from work, put something in between you and the source of stress. What do your lunch breaks look like? Are you eating at your desk? BAD! Change that please. Labor laws entitle us to these fabulous time buffers. Use it or lose it!

I have been lucky in my previous jobs that my bosses were understanding of my workload. I was able to safely express to them when I needed a break, a person to relieve me for one day or needed a day just to focus on paperwork. Sometimes those “paperwork only” days were the solution to my stress.

If you need a buffer from a stressful family situation, pinpoint who you can safely talk to. Text or call that person and let them know you’ll need them to listen, let you scream or just be there in general. It’s hard to turn down a close confidant who asks you, “Hey can I just vent for a second?” Buffers are also boundaries.

Maybe you need to skip a certain family event or gathering for the sake of your sanity. But if you’re unable to skip an event, have a buffer person handy so you can text them in case of emergency!

If you are only attending functions to please others then you are choosing resentment. Click To Tweet

Soothing Talk – Write down what you would say to a loved one in a similar situation. It’s funny how 99% of the time we don’t take our own advice. Have you ever helped someone in a similar situation? What did you tell them? Listen to yourself!

If your self-talk is becoming harsh or over critical, speak to yourself like you would talk to a child. No curse words. Just reassurance.

Refer to my post on self-talk for mental wellness.

Notice The Source – Before you get sucked into criticism or advice, notice who’s telling it to you. In the Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about judgment like its poison. If a person is cruel to you, they spread emotional poison. When we react or plot revenge then we are using their poison within us. It’s similar to “stooping down to their level.”

Also, as you notice the source of criticism, think about that person’s story.

Is there a loss of love in their life?

Has struggle been a mainstay for them?

Are they under immense stress and are lacking in self-care? Although it may be hard to get these answers, remember this: Hurt people hurt people. Click To Tweet

Someone who is hurting from shame, abandonment, insecurities, or whatever, may feel more comfortable passing off that hurt to someone else. Don Miguel Ruiz calls it “misuse of our word.” He says that when you hear a bad opinion and you believe it, you make an agreement with it.

Within these last two posts I have highlighted 6 coping skills to help with burnout or family stress. Changing our thinking patterns, focusing on our needs and actively speaking up for our needs can help minimize these issues.

Be pro-active and get comfortable with these coping skills before you are forced into reactive mode!!

Which coping skills have worked for you in the past? How have you survived burnout? 

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