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How To Know If You’re Burnt Out — And What To Do About It

Nowadays, you can’t scroll through your feed without seeing the term burnout popping up. It’s becoming more and more common, and more people are waking up to the fact that they’re experiencing it. 

But sometimes, when you’re so deep in the throws of it, you might not even realize that what you’re experiencing is actually burnout. 

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, burnout is defined as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” 

Maybe you’ve thought “I’m just really tired,” or “I just have to get through this week,” or “this is just part of life.”

But if you’re consistently using these thoughts to excuse how you’re feeling, there may be more going on beneath the surface. 

And contrary to what you might believe, it doesn’t matter if you work a 9-5 job, if you work long days as a healthcare worker, or if you work from home or for yourself. It doesn’t matter if this job is one that you absolutely love (though, surely that doesn’t hurt) or one that you’re just doing for the paycheck at this point. It doesn’t matter what your situation is — we’re all susceptible to burn out. 

Which kind of sucks, right?

But it’s not all bad though, because once you realize that you’re headed for that dreaded place of burnout (or accepting that you’re already there), you can start taking steps to get yourself the hell out of it. 

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for your business, and in our hustle-crazed world, I’ll forever be screaming it from the rooftops and to anyone who will listen!

So I put together a few ways to identify if maybe what you’re experiencing is actually burnout and what you can do about it. 

Note: Burnout is a very real thing, and when you’re in a prolonged stage of it, it can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. The strategies to handle burnout listed in this blog post are only suggestions intended to lessen the effects of burnout or to help prevent it. However, I’m by no means a mental health expert and all recommendations I share are purely strategies I’ve learned from dealing with mild burnout myself. If you’re experiencing prolonged effects of burnout, reach out to a licensed mental health professional for professional treatment. 

Step 1: How to know if you’re burnt out

You’re always tired

But a different, more intense tired than you’re used to. 

It’s that heavy, sludge-y, physical feeling of exhaustion. That emotional I’m-just-so-tired level of exhaustion where if you have to make one more decision you just might pass out.

You notice that because of this, you say no to all of the things you’re usually obsessed with, like grabbing an after work latte with your bestie, waking up before the craziness of the day for an early morning yoga class, or making a total mess of your kitchen baking things filled with all the chocolate you can fit. 

All of the things that light you up and give you energy now just feel like they’re taking more energy that you don’t have.

You’re unable to concentrate at work

Or anywhere, really. 

You find yourself getting completely lost in your endless whirlwind of thoughts — brainstorming solutions to how you’re gonna handle that client, thinking about which tasks need to get finished tomorrow, or playing over that cringey interaction you had with your co-worker. 

The only way you’ve been able to deal with the endless cycle of thoughts is by numbing out on your phone whenever you find yourself free for a moment. If you’re like me, maybe you get sucked into watching another girl on Tik Tok tell you all about the perfect Tuesday routine, in the hopes that it’ll somehow turn things around. 

Spoiler: it won’t. I already tried.

You’re frustrated by, well, everything

The person sitting next to you at the cafe is typing away and you’ve never heard a louder typer. Each press of a key sends you further over the edge that your *this* close to moving your seat. Or screaming. 

Or you’ve just gotten home and your partner is telling a long and involved story about their day at work, and all you can think about is how much work you still have to go finish. Instead of feeling present and happy to connect with them, you feel antsy and irritable, waiting for them to finish. 

You don’t remember always being this cynical and annoyed. Surely you were once a bubbly and bright person, right? Right??

If you’re noticing more frustration over the little things, there’s a chance your mind is feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated, and frazzled — another sign of burnout.

Step 2: Getting back on track

If you notice that you’ve been experiencing these not so fun feelings, here are some strategies that can help you get back on track to your best — and happiest — self. 

Cover the basics

Right now, everything probably feels hard and effortful. 

Instead of trying to build in all those alluring self-care activities and morning routines hoping that something — anything! — will stick and be the magic formula that solves everything, focus on the simple things you need to do to take care of yourself. 

Schedule the doctor appointment. 

Eat a filling breakfast — and every other meal. 

Take a shower. 

Check in on your bank account and paying your bills. 

Check in with your loved ones.

These things aren’t always glamorous, but they’re necessary. And by taking these small, nourishing actions, you ensure that your most basic needs are met. Because if they’re not, all the fancy self-care rituals in the world won’t mean a darn thing.

Cut back where you can

Chances are, you’re doing too much. We all are. 

Take an honest look at both your work commitments and your personal commitments and see what you can let go of to lighten your load. Maybe you don’t actually have to post 2 blog posts this week because 1 is okay. Or you can automate your onboarding process so you don’t have to spend so much time writing emails. Or you just Instacart your groceries because the thought of surviving a grocery store trip with your sanity in tact feels impossible.

When we’re pulled in all different directions, trying to reach an unnatural level of productivity, burnout is never far behind. But by lessening, or even just simplifying, some of your tasks, you’ll both lessen your overall stress and open up more space in your day. Space that can be spent on practices that fill your cup, which can be as simple as sitting and just being with yourself. 

Start implementing one small practice — with no pressure

And with “one” and “no pressure” being the key here. 

This isn’t the time to try to squeeze in every single self-care activity that you think you should be doing. Unless that works for you, then by all means, please do what works!

But for me, I end up becoming more overwhelmed and crazed. 

“OK, I have to journal, but quickly because then I need to go do that face mask right before I meditate for 15 minutes and then maybe I’ll make some brownies?” And on and on. I get so all over the place that my husband feels like his head is spinning. 

Instead, incorporate one thing back into your routine that you enjoy. And prioritize that one thing, focusing on bringing yourself a little bit of bliss, something to look forward to. 

As a business owner, I find that knowing when I’m entering that burnout territory and knowing how I can lessen its effects have made such a difference in how I show up in my business, with my clients, and in my life. (and if you’re looking for more ways to stay grounded on a daily basis, read this next!)

The small things really do make a difference. As does knowing you’re not alone. 

You got this!

Hey, I’m Kristie! And besides writing website and email copy for the best businesses, I also help business-owners like you feel grounded and less chaotic. 

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So glad you’re here! XO

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