Shining bright or all burnt out?

It was another public holiday in South Africa this week. We have had four consecutive weeks of four days. It has been quite disruptive, our flow has been impacted even though we didn’t really take all the days off. And yes, we know that it is important to rest. And we did. Sort of. And we have some commitments that don’t care if it is a public holiday or not.

The words “Enjoy your long weekend” yelled in goodbyes sounded somewhat jarring. Long weekend? Another one? What’s that? Time off? Not for us. What it is for us is an opportunity to get some more recording in as the space is quiet, devoid of the hustle and bustle of support staff and the noises that come with normal weekday work.

It's not all work Jack

Running a tiny company with multiple irons in the fire, juggling admin, marketing, content creation, recording, video and audio editing, and production does make the work time and playtime sort of moosh together.

We are committed to bringing the light with our work. Shining the light on the importance of our emotions and caring for them takes energy. Raising awareness and educating the public on the basics that are not the basics for so many, takes time. We run the risk of running low on both.

Because the bar is so low, because there is so little awareness and understanding of what we present, many people are in the place of “I don’t know that I don’t know”. That place of blissful ignorance. In addition, the subject of emotions can be uncomfortable and no-one likes to feel uncomfortable. As a result we receive a great deal of pushback, open disbelief, harsh criticism, and dismissal. Because of this we run the risk of feeling ineffectual, and of becoming cynical.

Burnout has become a thing

If we are not careful we can run the risk of becoming burnt out. We are not nearly there but it helps to be aware of the danger because burnout has become a thing. More and more people report feeling burnt out.

  • Exhausted.
  • Stressed out.
  • Fed up.

To date there is still no agreement on how to measure burnout or diagnose it. It has no status as a disorder. In 2019 burnout was classified as a “syndrome” rather than an illness by the WHO. There is, however, agreement that it is a combination of three elements: exhaustion, cynicism and a feeling of ineffectiveness.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. It is linked specifically to one’s work and the gap between what your ideals and desires are about what you think you should be doing and what you actually are doing. You feel overworked and undervalued.


Burnout is a process not an event

Burnout is a process not an event. A bit like the boiling frog, you can push on, and on, dragging your sorry butt from the bed to the car, to the screen, to the bed, with lower and lower levels of motivation, and higher and higher levels of “I can’t care less-ness”. There is no bad hair day, there are just bad days. All of them. Bad. Badder. Baddest.

Work is so awfully dull or so terribly overwhelming you just want to give up. You sleep all the time and still remain fatigued. Just the act of thinking hurts your head. You’re forgetful, distracted, sometimes even confused. You’ve lost hope, feel trapped, and alone.

The road to burnout is quite a personal process. It is dependent on many factors, including your personality, levels of resilience, boundary management and ambition. Burnout can be driven by both internal and external factors.

People most inclined to get burned out are the A-type personalities, the perfectionists and over controllers but they are also the nurturers and carers in people centred positions and jobs. Some individuals in some occupations are at higher risk than others.

When your body says NO!

The thing with burnout is that you can try to push through until your body says NO! And it will. The consequences of that are a complete halt to doing the work you probably thought you always wanted and dreamed of. A complete overhaul of your life. If you don’t do this you will repeat the pattern again. And again.

So what to do?

First you do need to stop, listen and acknowledge the warning signs. Come back to your body, listen to what it is telling you. Self awareness is the first step to change.

Top 5 strategies for avoiding burnout

We have compiled a comprehensive list of twelve things that can be considered to recover from or avoid burnout. This is too long a list for this article but maybe one we will expand on in a future Week That Was.

The following are the top five non-negotiables on this list:

    1. Seek support, professional or community or social. Being able to verbalise how you are feeling to a trusted person can help reality check your thoughts and feelings
    2. Take time out - book an extended vacation, time away from work, time to allow you to reflect and consider your options. You need to rest. You need space to think or not think as the case may be
    3. Sleep is super important. Being in a state of exhaustion, this statement may seem superfluous. You may have been sleeping a great deal, but being burned out means you’re not getting enough good sleep. A focused strategy to improve your sleep and ensure you get enough hours of sleep is crucial for burnout recovery and that means getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep
    4. Look after yourself - exercise, nourish yourself, develop a mindfulness based practice. Exercise, that is moving your body in any way supports stress release and helps regulate your nervous system. Nourishing yourself by eating whole, fresh foods, drinking plenty of water and staying away from too many carbs or sugars. Also consider developing a mindfulness based practice such as attending or taking Emotional Fitness Classes
    5. Find something outside of work that you are passionate about. This recommendation is particularly important. Having a focus outside of work that energises you is key for long term health and wellbeing.

Shine bright

We want you to shine bright and not burn out. Consider a programme to build your emotional fitness and include all of the above. If you are emotionally fit you will be more attuned to your body, to the way you feel, the way you engage with others and be able to make better decisions that support you and your well being. You will be better placed to contract appropriately, take action and enforce your boundaries.

Until next time, stay emotionally fit, bring the light and choose love - always.

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