With so much going off in our lives it becomes hard to ever turn off: from work, social media, life itself, even if just for a second. When I was younger I remembered being able to read a book and become totally immersed in every second of narrative escape. Now I read a book and have to reread every other page because I’ve become distracted by my ever growing to do list. Some would say this is just part of adult life, but I always remember my parents enjoying their weekends, barely thinking about work unless brought up in conversation. But now it is a guilt chained to us through work emails, Facebook groups and whatsapp chats, something I’m glad my parents have managed to narrowly avoid for the most part.
When the boundaries of all aspects of life become so distorted, it’s easy to get lost in the blur of it all. As a result of the constant pressures of life, especially when merged into one big stress ball, it’s not surprising that so many people are experiencing burnout. For those of you not familiar with the term, burnout can be described as a total exhaustion, both mentally and physically.
Whilst some are labeling burnout as a totally millennial problem, for the self-entitled generation that has it easy, it’s actually an issue affecting all generations, especially in the modern working world. It’s something I think everybody has experienced at some point in the life, and I think the label “burnout” is just something to make it a subject easier for people to discuss.
“For me, burnout is encouraged by expecting to have it all together: optimum fitness, a thriving career, a good dating life, keeping up with your hobbies and not letting go of your talents. It’s the result of self-induced pressure; pressure to be perfect. It’s pushing yourself to the point where your thoughts, ideas and frustrations physically tire you out. It’s expecting to make things happen overnight. It’s over-thinking. It’s worry. It’s being unkind to yourself.”
So how can we tackle burnout? There’s some truth in the “just get on with it” attitude your parents may have, but unfortunately it’s not all that easy. Personally when I feel like everything’s got completely on top of me I turn off my phone and computer (the electric demons), put on my favourite CD, and write a good old fashioned to do list. It always seems like there’s so much to be done, but instead of dwelling on the amount of work that needs to be done, do it. I start with the easier jobs to cross off and watch as my list slowly shrinks to the more challenging hurdles in my life. That’s when I have a little break for myself, make a cup of tea, text my best friends, and maybe have a flick through a magazine to congratulate myself for completing those initial tasks. The thing is it’s fine to tackle the problems but you also need a rest. So remember to relax and find time to take things easy, even if its just 5 minutes here and there for those of you that can’t switch off.
When I’m feeling on top of the little things, it’s probably time to look at the bigger picture. Why am I burnt-out? The truth is there is no one reason, it’s almost always a culmination of things, most of the time things out of my control that I simply have to live with. Since I can’t change the situation, for the most part, I do whatever I can to make the situation easier for myself. What that is for you personally I don’t know. But for me it almost always includes organising my diary so I can prepare properly for the weeks ahead of me. It allows me to know what to expect, and also find the time for some papering and booking in the ultimate moral boost, a haircut.
But the reality is we all experience burnout differently, and we all have different coping mechanisms and ways to deal with stress. So find out what’s best for you and do it. And remember, it’s only temporary. Better days will come, so look to the future, and look forward to it too!