By Anda Ene
In these times, we are often overwhelmed by the many duties and choices we have to make every single day, the incredible, massive influx of data we receive and perceive and struggle to process, the instability of what we create in the present and the uncertainty of the future. Yes, life is very rich and we all experience a high amount of stress as participants (or just components?) in this ever growing and complex living system.
As a mother of three boys (one is a teenager…:), with a professional coaching career on the rise, with a small business to run, mostly single-handedly, and a part time job which is not a labour of love, I feel the pressure coming from all directions. And this makes me think of the expression burnout, burnout, burnout…
According to the US National Library of Medicine, the term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger and “is a consequence of severe stress and high ideals” seen extra-especially in the so called “helping professions” like doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers of people with special needs, counseling (psychologist, schools, community). In this modern world, many professions engender a perfect storm to enable their employees’ burnout. Even at home, there are myriad reasons for burnout. It may be true, burnout is connected with the professional life but burnout also has its roots in your personal life.
Anybody can be affected by this modern “syndrome” without even knowing it. That’s why I think it’s important to check for the signs. It builds slowly over time, so that you don’t realize what it is. First it’s an apathy, moments of frustration and impatience show increasingly often, fatigue is a permanent companion. Dissatisfaction, stays with you, not only occasionally. It might become a generalized state, because you are overworked or underchallenged and family life, friendships and your social interactions might be affected. Bit by bit, a cloud starts to spread a dark shadow over you, consuming your energy, enthusiasm, creativity, hope, even your pleasure in life and living. You may feel like you have been taken hostage by an invisible enemy who is disturbing you at the mental and emotional level.
Does any of this resonate with you? If not, I’m happy for you. Apparently, you are doing good work to manage your life, but nevertheless be aware of the signs which can be very elusive and easy to ignore, especially in the beginning.
For the rest of us, let’s take a look and see. Do you have a tendency to neglect yourself, your needs, especially your feelings? Is self-sacrifice a permanent attitude?
Living with high stress, under the permanent pressure of time, the pressure to excel, overworked or staying in a boring and routine job, all these factors might induce physical and psychological exhaustion. Becoming cynical and detached is not a good option either, these are also markers from the same constellations. Whatever our life circumstances, we must consciously assume that it’s our creation, although forces outside of our control will have interfered too. Sometimes we get clear signs that our life is not heading in the right, good direction and burnout catches us out exactly when we are at our most vulnerable, when we are least able to make decisions.
To really go for a change in our lives, we have to reject the illusion that somebody else will fix it or will save us. If you are religious and faithfully trust that the God or the Universe will work its metaphysical plan and do the magic, beware! I would only repeat, what a famous monk said once: “Pray as if everything is up to God, act as if everything is up to you”.
When you are in a down phase of your life, is it always good to remember that there is always an alternation between good and bad periods in the seasons of our lives. Remember, that you possess the same qualities and you are the same person as the one who excelled and thrived in a another period. What life throws at you, it doesn’t matter, that is out of your control, but it matters a lot to know that what you value is intangible and unchangeable, regardless of what is happening in the present moment. You can take a 100 euro bill, squeeze it in your hand, scrunch it up, throw it in the mud, step on it… It doesn’t matter how awful it might be looking, it still has the same value.
To put your life back on track, it’s important to start loving and treating yourself with gentleness. Be your best supporter and stop with the criticism. Do more of what makes you feel better, stronger, younger. Go out in the fresh air, take long walks, learn something new or whatever inspires you.
“Burnout” is a wonderful opportunity for personal renewal and that’s much better than a self-destructive programme. It’s up to you.
Anda is a coach and entrepreneur. Working with both private and corporate clients, she manage to orient her coachees towards a positive approach and achieve the desired results.