There’s a thing that creeps up on us and we don’t know what that is until we’re in that stage of almost no return… but when you catch it early, you’ll be glad you did. This thing is called burnout and it doesn’t only exist in our work lives, but it can happen from anything in our lives. It is common to get it through work though.
Here’s a fact: Burnout sucks and I’ve probably experienced it more times than I would want to. I remember the biggest burnout stage I went through was in 2018 when I had just gotten out of my longest relationship, was going to school full-time, working a lot of hours, and then dealing with where the heck I was going to move after college graduation. That’s already a lot happening in my life and it really isn’t at all healthy to be there!
What it led me to was being drowned in depression and I had questioned my self-worth and purpose a lotttt, which took more time to learn to gain. This is why I blog so much about the benefits of being in nature and about stunning outdoorsy places that are worthy of traveling to because it did so much for me at the times I felt burnt out and I thank God there are places outside indoor office spaces and outside of our career personas.
I think the biggest impact for my burnout in my life was working soooo much. It didn’t mean I worked overtime because sure enough you do not have to do 40+ hours of work to feel the burnout, but it could be the responsibilities you’re dealt with that can contribute to burnout. What exactly is burnout? Burnout is a syndrome that is the prolonged result of being stressed out to the point of feeling empty, unmotivated, and mentally exhausted.
If this sounds so familiar and if you’re not sure if you’re experiencing burnout or if you’re just going through a temporary rough period in your life, read the 5 signs I have gathered of how you can determine if you have burnout and how to fix it before it really consumes you.
1. First sign of burnout: Physical symptoms
Before your mind knows it, your body will show you that you’re burning out. The symptoms can be subtle at first and may become worse as time goes on. Some physical symptoms you might experience are: feeling fatigue/tired all the time, frequently experiencing physical illnesses, having changes in your appetite (eating too little or too much), having changes in your sleeping habits (such as sleeping too little or too much), getting headaches and eye strains, experiencing muscle pains, and mental challenges of feeling like you’re helpless and hopeless.
Now, those symptoms may almost sound like depression, which is scary, and it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint which of the two (depression or burnout) you’re really experiencing and that’s why it’s still important to get professionally evaluated. However, if you can relate to experiencing these physical symptoms and also know there’s a major stressful factor in your life that is causing you to experience those, you may just be in burnout mode.
2. Second sign of burnout: Reduced performance
Since we are mostly talking about burning out with work, I want you to first compare how you were when you started your job vs. how you are performing now. If you notice there are any differences from the way you perform your skills at work and/or the way you’re not showing up in a timely manner either through attendance or being late to meetings, then you may just be burning out. You may notice if your performance is reduced that you are procrastinating on working on projects and taking longer on it than you used to.
3. Third sign of burnout: Lack of interest and energy/enthusiasm
If you’re feeling like a certain project or skill that you liked to work on doesn’t have the spark like it used to be and you don’t even want to get involved, maybe you’re losing some interest in it? Not to say that all work has to forever uphold this spark to it, but if you don’t even see the positives of trying to do something, then it’s best to give it some rest. Your lack of interest or energy and enthusiasm in working at something is what will cause you to have loss of motivation and so it gets harder to be productive. You’ll basically be like a hamster running in a hamster wheel constantly running without getting anywhere.
4. Fourth sign of burnout: Desperation of wanting to sleep or isolate
After work, you may feel this constant urge to just hit the bed and wake up whenever you’ve felt rested, but then you might go back into work the next day and still feel like you’re not that rested after all and so the cycle continues. You might also feel like you want to isolate yourself away from your co-workers to your friends because it is just too much for you to delve into interaction as your energy is simply depleted.
5. Fifth sign of burnout: Looking for more ways for an “escape”
This fifth sign of burnout was the big obvious sign for me when I experienced my burnout story as I previously mentioned above. You see, my blog is set around going on a bunch of adventures and the tips and tricks to them, and that is not just the travel bug hitting me…
To me, it had a more important and deeper reasoning to why I HAD to travel a lot. I was looking for ways to escape from my past situations when I was burning out from work, school, heartbreak, life changes, etc. because I knew it would provide me fulfilment, even when I was aware some of those things could be temporary (though in hindsight, my travel memories are forever cherished and contributed to growth). I wanted to escape whenever I had the break (like holiday breaks from school) because I thought it would help me withdraw from responsibilities. Not to mention, I was suffering from depression at the time so burning out at the same time was hurting me more with it.
If you feel like this too, then you may be burning out.
It all seems discouraging right? That burnout can consume so many feelings of yourself and if you look back, it can affect how you function as a person through your responsibilities and how you do not even feel like you can give your full-on potential. Burnout can lead to harder negative consequences such as diminishing your self-worth and feeling like you’ll be carrying on this load of hopelessness.
However, luckily, there are some ways to still reverse burnout. And no, I won’t say, as a travel blogger, go and book that trip and never return, but rather evaluate how you can reverse that burnout with 5 ways on how to fix your burnout:
1. First way to reverse burnout: Find another job if you can.
I know it may be hard to find a replacement for your job, but the sooner you can start as soon as you recognize burnout, the better it’ll be. I know it’s also hard when you’re already depleted of motivation almost entirely, but let this be your one little hope or faith to hold onto. You do not have to feel chained to this one job you have– go and explore other companies and also look into reviews of that company if it seems like an ideal work environment for you and start applying (or talking to recruiters) on your own time. Because I know, everyone needs a job to continually financially support themselves and going out without a job is such a risk.
But, what if that risk is okay if you’ve saved enough? What if you have an emergency fund and a few months of money saved so you can go a few months or so without working at all? If you can get to that point, then you can use the time to look further into “Is this what I really want to do?” or “Should I just take a break just focusing on the things that matter in life rather than just my dedication towards work?”
My freelancing journey to get me out of the 9-5 burnout
You see, back in March, I quit my full-time 9-5 job in a big corporation, and that’s because I was burning out AND I am physically ill with a disease that wears me out. The combination is SO NOT good for me and it actually hurted my mental health too. I was just getting started too in getting paid from my blog and I still wanted to carry on my marketing skills I learned from the job, so I decided: I’m going to go freelance.
Freelancing has supported me up until that time as well as having saved a good amount. I’ve done this a bit while volunteering and interning with other companies when I first began my marketing career, but this was more of the real deal. I wanted to so badly get out of my situation from being in a fast-paced workplace that I chased after something I enjoy more. I love the flexibility it gives me so I can work on this blog, my mental health, and the time to help me heal while struggling with an illness. (By the way, I bought my health insurance off a marketplace and I don’t pay so much for it monthly. Highly recommend it! It’s not as pricey as you think it’ll be vs. having insurance from an employer because what you pay is determined by how much you make and what tax credits you’ll qualify for.)
Are you looking to get into freelancing too?
If you are interested in looking into freelancing too with skills you want to share (ghostwriting, virtual assistance, photography, editing, graphic design, tutoring, teaching, selling a business service or product, consulting, etc.), then I highly recommend you use a great freelancer tool called Bonsai.
Bonsai is a great and organized all-in-one way to send proposals, keep track of contracts, a way to bill your clients, to keep track of your freelance projects, and so much more features! If you click here, you can get 2 weeks FREE!
I love this tool Bonsai because it’s helped me get into my freelancing work so much easier. I can keep all my expenses in one place rather than having to put it all in an Excel sheet and not only do I use it for digital marketing stuff (like doing paid social ads), but I’ve used it for my photography side gig too. I did not have to go out of my way to create a template for my proposals and contracts because they were all included in Bonsai. As someone who is doing a bunch of different things for their business (digital marketing services, blogging, and photography), I like how this makes me “feel less like all over the place” and the feeling of being all over the place is one way to get into burn out mode.
Overall, I do love freelancing and I love that I have more time for myself where I can dedicate to my growth such as being able to travel and make content with the feeling I can actually breathe. I love putting my health before too because I have a chronic disease, and I need plenty of rest in between work. There are so much more types of work roles out there than a 9-5 job. And once you find a system (such as using Bonsai) down, freelancing will come a lot more natural and easier and the feeling of “impostor syndrome” will eventually fade. You’ll be thinking “wow I actually made this happen for myself.”
2. Second way to reverse burnout: Take time to do things that will relax your mind and body.
If quitting your job and finding a new one is not a viable option at this time, the next points may be good solutions to reverse burnout. Sometimes what you might need is to just give more time to yourself and I know with work burnout, we feel all we know is serving our job and it’s hard to sometimes separate the balance from your personal life to career life. Take some time after work or on your off days to dedicate some rest and low-impact things.
Some things that can relax your mind is: Spend time with friends and family, do some meditation and yoga, go walk in nature whether in a park or do a hike, do an activity on water (paddling, kayaking, canoeing), read a book outside of your typical work environments, sit down in a cafe to talk to a friend or to just sip on your favorite drinks, and go do activities in your city that is not in a stressful environment.
3. Third way to reverse burnout: Don’t be afraid to say no and talk to your boss about it.
If you feel your work is demanding with a lot of tasks and you feel like your plate is full already, I highly advise you to speak to your boss about it. A good sit down conversation with your boss is not bad and it may just open up the communication that is needed because what if your boss doesn’t know what you’re going through? You just never know until you speak up. Tell your boss why doing a specific responsibility is something you don’t feel you have the capacity for and saying “no” is so necessary in life.
4. Fourth way to reverse burnout: Take time off.
Have you used your PTO days at all? If not, take advantage of them! If you feel like you have used your PTO days already, you still have the option to take time off (without the benefits). If you feel like your job is way too demanding and you don’t feel you can ever take time off, then maybe you might just have to rethink if this is a company you should work for. That specific company is not the only one- there’s plenty of fish you can find in the sea (yes, this is a dating quote but it applies for jobs too).
How should you spend your time off? I say definitely go travel if you can. You don’t have to travel far and wide and go to an exotic place at all, you can go on a road trip to the state over or find cheap flight tickets to a different state. Go seek your curiosity because honestly, life is not as long as you think it’ll be and you can be doing plenty of amazing stuff during your years of still being healthy. Don’t choose to go somewhere where you think you’ll end up doing a lot of adventurous, adrenaline-pumping activities if you don’t have the energy for that. Find a place that is the right balance for what you NEED.
5. Fifth way to reverse burnout: Seek therapy.
Life is more complex than we like to admit. If you feel like you’ve tried all the other points I listed above on how to reverse burnout, then maybe try going into therapy. Therapy can be a great way to help you determine what other outliers in your life are causing you so much stress and maybe there is more to your burnout than what’s on the surface.
I know therapy can be pricey, but if you are blessed with health insurance from your work or shared with a family member or if you have your own, then take advantage of it. Some sites I recommend to look for a therapist are: BetterHelp.com, OpenPathCollective.org, PsychologyToday.com, FindOctave.com.
Also, if it’ll be your first time ever going into therapy, don’t settle for the first one you’ll find. Sometimes it takes more than one therapist to see who fits you better to help you heal effectively and sometimes it takes more than one to understand you best.
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