Bouncing back from a Burnout
Burnout. That feeling when you have just had enough. Whether that is work, school, your pet dog or your nagging girlfriend. You just do not have the energy for anything and everything. The sight of your bed and you laying in it seems like a great idea. Until you realise that you have got bills to pay, upcoming exams or must wake up early in the morning to work a job that you do not really like. (Do not tell my manager).
Your body is screaming ‘I am in severe pain’. Your head is throbbing like the music in a house music rave. exhaustion.
I remember earlier this year experiencing burnout. It was around February/March. I got to a point where I was just fed up with everything. I despised waking up for work in the mornings. Each day my gym sessions felt repetitive and lethargic. Even playing Fifa or Call of Duty on my PS4 with my friends felt…boring. But why? Why was it that I felt this why? What was different?
Physically my body was in pain. My neck felt stiff. My body was tight. I remember I got to a stage where I would book deep tissues massages and reschedule them. I needed rest. I needed a break.
I had this bad habit of continuously going to the gym every day. Skipping rest days. Early in the morning. Sometimes I would be in the gym at 5 am. 6 am. Some days I would even go back to the gym in the evening for a second session. It was truly unhealthy, and I did not understand just how much of a toll this was taking on my body.
Mentally this had a big impact on too. I use the gym and boxing as the foundations for my days. But during these two months, I just felt like I had no energy for anything else. I was sloppy and inconsistent at work. When the weekend would come around, I would often think of excuses to avoid going out with my friends. The littlest of things really annoyed me. I could not even watch Match of the Day on Saturday evening because Arsenal were just giving me stress. Life truly felt like a mental drain.
Emotionally I was all other the place. Some of my friends would tell me that I was coming across as quite intense or thinking too deeply about certain situations. My family could tell that I needed a break, but I was adamant that I did not. I was constantly looking forward to work targets and meeting university deadlines that I did not realise that I was long past burning out. It felt like I was on autopilot. Driving towards a destination that I hoped to arrive at, without acknowledging the speed bumps and potholes along my journey.
It is often easier to see when someone else has burned out than when we ourselves have burned out. We go through life so fixated on the future that we really suffer in the present. I would often look through my calendar, plan short city breaks and get excited about the prospects of enjoyment in the future. But what about this week? What about today? What about now?
I am guilty of being guided by this constant fear of taking a break, fearing that it will come back to bite me. However, life is not always smooth and easy-going as we hope it to be. We often do not realise that we have burned out. Whether that because we’re narrow minded, restless or just want to get to our destination quicker, we should not rush the process. Most importantly, we should not jeopardise our physical and mental well-being during the process. Our body and mind are more connected that we realise.
Here are a few tips that I would suggest to people bouncing back from a burnout:
1) Acknowledge that you have “burned out”
Acknowledging that you have burnt out is important. Speak to your family and friends. Reflect on the past. Ask them about your mood swings and how you tend to come across. Pay attention to potential signs and triggers that may have led you towards burning out.
2) Drop your ego and accept it
Sometimes we do not realise that we need rest. I am guilty of saying ‘I will rest later’. But when exactly is later? Protecting your physical and mental wellbeing is key. You have burned out. That is fine. Accept it and create an actionable plan. Think of being burned out like failing an MOT for your car. It has happened. Now there are changes that need to be made.
3) Break the long term down into smaller steps
One of the problems that I experienced when I burned out was that I struggled to break down my long-term plans. I would create lists of things that I want to do in the future. However, I often struggled with the short term. Break. Them. Down. Repeat. Break them down. The small steps we take today create the long strides towards our future.
4) Treat yourself
Treat yourself along the journey. Sometimes we often make the mistake of seeing our end goal or destination as the only treat or reward. Stop that. Set yourself markers along the way. When you clear a hurdle, treat yourself. I like to go with the twenty Chicken Nuggets from McDonald’s, a McFlurry and Apple Pie. But find treats that work for you.
5) Be patient and take each step as it comes
Be Patient. I said be patient. Whatever you aspire to achieve or acquire in the future will happen. Take each day/week as it comes. Be mindful and understand that each day might be different. At the start of each day, I set myself the goal of being better than I was the previous day. Record your progress in a journal or diary. Do not be so focused on the finishing line that you miss the hurdles in your way.
Acknowledge. Accept. Grow.
You know the vibes.