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Recognizing Burnout: It’s Time to Care for Yourself

When you look in the mirror do you see a woman you barely know, whose glazed-over eyes stare at you over dark circles and frown lines and your reaction is “whatever”? You may be burned out.

Just what is burnout and how does it happen?

Burnout is an emotional, physical, and psychological wasteland. It is an insidious creep of lack of focus, lack of motivation, lack of caring, exhaustion, irritability, cynicism, frustration and generally not giving a s*#t. Everyday is a bad day. It is born of overwork, perfectionism, lack of time to yourself, lack of time off, lack of time socializing, being a control freak and being plugged-in all the time.

Burnout vs. Depression

Burnout is difficult to distinguish from depression. One of the distinctions is your response to some extended downtime – like a 2-week vacation (vs. a long weekend), getting some good sleep, good nutrition, and some time with loved-ones and friends. Depression is typically non-responsive to these efforts. Burnout includes depression and anxiety. Depression includes anxiety and a lot of the symptoms of burnout.

You are best off consulting a mental health specialist to help you determine what you are experiencing. If you are depressed, therapy is your best solution, along with taking good care of yourself. If you are burned out, your choice can also include getting a good coach, along with taking good care of yourself. Either way, don’t mess with your mental/emotional health!

Burnout vs. Perimenopause

Burnout is difficult to distinguish from perimenopause. One of the distinctions is your age. Thirty year olds can be burned out or depressed. However, if you are in your early 30s and have not had medical treatments that could bring on early menopause, then you could be burned out or depressed if you have the above mentioned feelings. In this case, get yourself to a mental health specialist. If you are in your prime as most of us here are, then you may be in perimenopause if you are having the above mentioned feelings.

Perimenopause is usually, but not always, accompanied by hot flashes and some irregularities in your periods. And, again, it is important not to mess with your mental/emotional/physical health. Talk to your doctor, preferably a doctor who is also a menopause specialist. Get your hormone levels checked. Get your body and mind checked out to make sure you are not experiencing any other physical or psychological issues.

Check? Good. Now let’s talk about how to deal with burnout.

Anything that gives you the opportunity to “be on” 24/7 can cause burnout: your job, being a care-taker for a loved-one, volunteering, and/or taking on too many responsibilities. Being perfectionist, pessimistic, controlling and Type-A can contribute to burnout. And so, what should you do?

  • Get some time off
  • Connect with peopleWoman Relaxing
  • Spend time taking care of yourself
  • Get help with your tasks
  • If what you are doing is not meaningful to you, move toward something else that is
  • Spend less time with people who are negative
  • Unplug
  • Build in relaxation time
  • Spend time in nature
  • Get plenty of good sleep
  • Eat well
  • Set boundaries
  • Moderate alcohol consumption

If you are in burnout, it is likely you don’t care about any of these things and/or believe you don’t deserve them. Do them anyway – starting with some downtime and time with some close loved-ones and friends who will support you in doing these things. Right now you are a bad judge of what you want, need and deserve because you are likely pretty darn disengaged. Trust people who love you and ask them to remind you that you love yourself.

Check? Good.

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