I recently looked up how many days there are left until Christmas and then felt discouraged. So, I whipped out my monthly planner and counted how many working days I have left until I take my annual leave in December. And the results, well the emoji says it all
Don’t get me wrong – I love my job but there is something about this time of year that makes you feel drained or in Afrikaans “moedeloos” (hopeless). But as quickly as this year is going by – there is still plenty of working days left for most of us. And that means I need to pull up my sparkly laced bootstraps and get on with it.
BURNOUT has become a real issue in society. Plenty of people that have suffered from its flaming clutches are ashamed to admit it, which begs the question what type of society do we live in? A society that expects you to work so hard that you can’t cope and when you reach burnout, you are deemed as weak?
After my brief tango with burnout just after my 30th birthday, I decided I am actively going to battle society’s pressure. But the worst pressure of all sometimes is the pressure we put ourselves under. It’s almost as though we lose perspective and push harder, take on more and exhaust ourselves to the point of illness.
And most of us struggle with the age-old response of “no”! Even though we know we should be using that word more, we don’t and when we do, we feel guilty for using it. Parents know this all to well. Although plenty of people burn themselves out at work, there are also people that burn themselves out trying to please loved ones (the lines often blur).
As a side note, if you don’t know what I am talking or writing about … if it doesn’t seem familiar – good for you! Please stop reading this – this article isn’t for you. Either you are super balanced, in denial or you do the bear minimum to earn a living.
Cheeky notes aside… let’s get back to the sparkly bottom-line …
Every year (since 2015), I make the point of attending the Global Leadership Summit in Pretoria and last year was no exception. It’s brilliant, inspirational and definitely worth a day’s leave. This two-day conference is where I gain deeper insight in best business practices (holistically) for the greater good and last year’s specifically, I learnt about burnout and simplifying your life, in one of the teachings.
Bill Hybels – the author of the book Simplify – Ten Practices To Unclutter Your Soul¸ founding father of the over 25 000-member Willow Creek Church and the creator of the Global Leadership Summit – that mentors leaders, in over 129 plus countries (including South Africa) – writes a humorous account of his burnout stint. Funny in hindsight – obviously not funny at the time.
Hybels discusses that the society we find ourselves in, is one that often falsely demands we do more, perform more and that time spent relaxing or recharging is for lazy people. You must just “hustle-hustle”, “grind-grind”, “work-work”.
Anyway, like I mentioned, Hybels describes in great humour how he spiralled over the edge and out of control– by doing good, well-meaning works and how he took simple yet difficult steps to adjust his life – leaving him with more peace, the ability to actually enjoy his loved ones and colleagues, and make sure that his energy tank is always full.
So, how do you know whether you have burnout or not? It takes on many different signs or symptoms; it can be a combination of all, some or a few of the signs and it is more of a slow puncture type of occurrence than an overnight event. Some of the words that may come up are exhausted, overwhelmed, over-scheduled.
An upbeat person may become extremely negative or pessimistic; a generally calm person extremely annoyed, rude and impatient. An easy-going worker becomes irritated with people “who just don’t work as hard as them”, “don’t sacrifice as many lunch-breaks” or “don’t work as many hours overtime as they do” … the same will be true for their personal life.
Here is a more comprehensive signs and symptoms list:
So, maybe these symptoms unofficially confirmed that you are suffering from burnout. Luckily, Hybels also gave a quick overview of how you can combat burnout.
It may not be easy and will take self-discipline on the burnout sufferers part – but there is hope.
1. Take action… cut, paste and delete:
With courage and grit start evaluating your life, your relationships and cut toxic activities, people, colleagues and attitudes out of your life. People are important; but people that just unpack and talk all about themselves, use and abuse you and steal your joy is a big no, no.
This also applies to family – don’t entertain family members that take and never give or only come along when they need money/help/someone to baby-sit… and when you need their help, they are scarcer than a toothpick, when you have biltong stuck in your back molars. Life is too short for you to allow people to mistreat or misuse you.
2. Learn to say NO… especially if it exhausts you:
You need to take time-off for yourself; schedule in “me-time” and say you are busy if people want you to do things for or with them that exhausts you. You are not being selfish.
We all need to learn to say “no” more and ALSO NOT FEEL WE HAVE TO EXPLAIN OURSELVES after we said the magic words. And if you say “NO”, and someone asks why, use the phrase parents have been saying, shouting and snapping at kids for years – “Because, I said so!”
Your health, happiness, and hope depend on you learning to say “NO” – even if it means you are disappointing people in your life. Do it for your loved ones – they need you healthy, happy and in their lives.
3. Recharge your battery:
What recharges your battery? What floats your boat? What fills your bucket? Writing, hiking, horse riding, reading, knitting, spending quality time with the family, boating? Find what recharges you and do more of it. Your family, colleagues and boss will thank for doing it!
If you don’t have one, as in a hobby – you are at the exciting cross-road of finding out what works for you. Try yoga, colouring-in (colour-pencil painting), photography, baking… I would recommend horse riding but then get used to being extremely happy and parting with all your money. But whatever replenishes you – do more of it.
4. Fun, food and the dreaded e-word:
Have good clean fun… play! I recently bought alien goo from what my mom fondly calls a “junk store”; who would think that for under R15 you can laugh wholeheartedly; from the weird noises it makes and the supernatural joy it brings when you stretch it … to the feeling of satisfaction you get when you roll it – it entertained three adults for a seriously long time. Or do whatever really! Paint, bead, blow giant bubbles or glitter! Take yourself less seriously.
Eat good food! Don’t just indulge in high sugar food and junk food – make good healthy food and enjoy it. Don’t skip meals and don’t be irresponsible. Pinterest is a haven for ideas or inspiration. Did I mention eat good food?
And now that dreaded e-word – EXERCISE. Exercising in whatever form suits you (besides exercising your jaw) always has a great impact. It reduces stress, boosts energy levels and offers you balance. Sometimes it is best to do things with your loved ones – hike, cycle, cross-fit, walk, swim – run a marathon or spin. Just do something that keeps you more active than a sloth on Prozac.
Life is too short to be ashamed of burnout. But at the same time life is too short to keep burning out. Be brave, be bold and be courageous enough to know when to say no, walk away and work less. It is an on-going battle for us not to conform to the world and its misguided ideas of success – sometimes we fail, sometimes we succeed. What it comes down to is stopping yourself when you see the burnout signs peeking through the surface of your heart and boldly saying “NO!” and bravely taking action.
“Simplified living is more than doing less. It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus. It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favour of a few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created. It’s a lifestyle that allows us, when our head hit the pillow at night to reflect with that our day was well-invested and the varied responsibilities of our lives are in order.” Bill Hybels
To read the first chapter of Bill Hybels book CLICK HERE.
To buy the book, CLICK HERE.