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Overcoming Chronic Burnout

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Overworking and being overly busy can be, and often is, regarded as a badge of honor. A sign of a dedicated employee. A hard worker who’s truly passionate about what they do. And it’s not only difficult to identify, but also really hard to correct when you’re in the midst of it and love your job and the people you work with.

How did I deal with chronic burnout? I didn’t. For years I had never even heard of the term burnout. It wasn’t until I began dealing with physical health issues that were unrelated to burnout but exacerbated by it that I began to learn about it.

And the reason I didn’t realize I was experiencing chronic burnout was most likely denial.

Some of the things I was subconsciously telling myself:

  • This is just a phase - the heavy workload will decrease soon; you just have to stick it out a bit longer.

  • Others are counting on you, and you can’t let them down.

  • Just need that holiday break or weekend getaway to feel recharged.

  • Keep it together! If you stress, you’ll stress others.

I didn’t know at the time that each of those were blaring red flags that something is truly wrong. You shouldn’t look forward to holiday break just to recharge from overworking.

And I’ve learned the [insert # here] tips to avoid burnout. They’re always the same: make sure you get a good night sleep, eat well (what does that mean?), exercise, take time off, and my favorite - ask for help! Ask for help? I didn’t even know I needed help! This is all great, well-intentioned advice; I’m not knocking it. It’s just that: number one, it’s easier said than done, and second, that’s too many things to do all at once.

Here is what helped me:

  • I implemented one very small change at a time.

  • I started with waking up a little earlier and going for a 15-minute walk around the block.

  • I did that for several months before building up to a whole morning routine.

  • That very first change was immensely powerful in calming my anxiety and putting things into perspective.

  • And most importantly, it kept me from compulsively starting to work as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning.

The truth is that before I started implementing those small actions, I was very unhealthy. I skipped meals, I didn’t work out, I worked from when I opened my eyes until my head hit the pillow at night and did it all over again the next day. For years. The anxiety, stress, digestive issues, feelings of guilt, were all explained away and blamed on work.

The benefits of adding physical activity slowly, working up to a full routine, adding small nutrition changes to my day were invaluable to my health, my work, and my confidence. Suddenly, I was sharper after that morning run.

I felt more productive at work, had a clearer mind, and felt so much healthier and happier. My digestive issues slowly started to resolve as well. And, unintentionally, this new routine helped me set the boundaries I never could before. Everyone at work and at home knew I was embarking on this wellness journey. They respected it, helped me stay accountable and it even motivated them too.

Thank you so much for spending time here. I’ll see you next time! Until then, express gratitude often, pay it forward when you can, and be kind to everyone… especially yourself.

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