How do I know when to rest? How do I listen to my body to know that I really need a break or am I just lacking motivation?
These are great questions! – It’s way to common to get caught up in the go go go cycle. We as women are superior warriors. We take on too much, we power through, we know that people depend on us. However, when you can’t sleep, when your thinking starts to blur, when your body aches, when your soul is tired – that is burnout. That is too much. There is a difference between burnout and lack of motivation. Having no motivation is knowing that you should do something but really don’t want to and then the excuses come in. If you can rationalize with yourself and make up excellent excuses – the excuses have won.
When you are lethargic mentally and physically – you are experiencing burnout and it’s time to stop, rest, recalibrate, and make a change.
My mission is to work with women who are looking to improve their relationships with food and their bodies so that they can overcome the binge and burnout cycle as I find that the two go hand in hand.
So, what exactly is burnout? Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.
Ugh, when I read that it’s like the first ten years of motherhood for me. Burnout is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
12 Stages of Burnout
- Compulsion to prove yourself (Usually burnout is related to a work imbalance. It is considered a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed) So we can hit this as entrepreneurs FOR SURE, and of course working in the corporate world as well.
- Working Harder – you get hyper focused and tunnel vision
- Neglecting your own needs – you stop giving yourself breaks. Just one more task, just one more project, or you decide to power through the never ending projects and you forget to eat, drink water, move or pee
- Displacement of Conflicts – you start to repress your needs. Deny yourself asking for help
- Revision of goals- work becomes more important and you start to go numb
- Denial of emerging problems – you social distance, become impatient, grouchy, edgy, cranky
- Withdrawal – you don’t want to do anything if it’s not related to getting things done at work
- Obvious behavioral changes – you may start excessive shopping online, drinking, or smoking
- Depersonalization – you feel controlled by your life instead of in control of your life. You feel stuck in a cycle. (This could be an emotional burnout cycle, or even the binge and burnout cycle)
- A sense of inner emptiness or exhaustion – again you are numb, fearful, in a panic
- Burnout or collapse – mental, emotional, physical breakdown
If you can relate to any of these twelve stages then it may be time to do something about it. Our bodies are constantly working on bringing us back into a homeostasis balance point. Sometimes fear and overwhelm can actually be a warning sign of too much and it’s time to take a step back.
The same thing happens when our bodies are sending out craving signals. Maybe you are craving sweet and salty or meat and potatoes? – too much of one or the other will make us crave the opposite and our activities can cause cravings too. I have done this before as well. I decided to cut out starchy carbs for two weeks to do a mini experiment with my body as I wanted to see if it would accelerate any fat loss and to see if it improved my mental state. While I was hungry and did eat a little more than the prescribed meal plan, I did feel energetic and not bloated at all during the first few days. But after that, my workouts got harder even though I fueled myself before working out, it wasn’t enough and I found myself having a hard time lifting my usual weight or even adding more weight, so my progressive overload was at a stand still.
The following week I stuck to the plan, and still found my training grueling and wasn’t sure if this was worth it anymore. Then my period came and I was craving carb city. I gave in. I ate cereal, toast, potatoes, cookies, chocolate bars you name it I was making up for the past two weeks. Normally, I focus on massive balance points by listening to my body, my energy levels and fueling myself properly depending on my energy output. But I wanted to try a little challenge. I don’t like to say that it was a failure, because it wasn’t. I was simply gathering data, and I find that my life is in even flow when I am in even flow. Even throughout challenges it is important for me to find a balance. I share this with you because if you stop listening to your body and if you find yourself stuck in this cycle of work being the holy grail of life then you will soon find yourself driving right into a binge or burnout, or maybe you’re already there and the cycle is stuck on repeat.
When we are faced with workplace stress and overwhelm see if you are craving sugar or alcohol. Try to pay attention to what you want vs. what you need. Usually our bodies go into survival mode and it’s easy to reach for the quick fixes. Quick fixes can be compulsive behavior such as alcohol, drive through foods, sugar, online shopping and even sex. Your body is literally screaming for you to pay attention and take a break, or find that balance point so that you are not being pushed over the edge to rely on the quick fixes if you cannot seem to find a way out of the burnout you are experiencing.
What if you could hit pause on the self sabotaging survival mode and choose to nourish your body mind and soul with love instead? You know, I’ve mentioned this before in weight loss, people want results now. They want change as of yesterday and don’t want to put the time and effort into what it takes to lose the weight. I find it similar today in the workforce especially living through this pandemic. People want to work less and get paid more. They want part time hours and double time pay. Some are finding that working from home is bliss and they don’t want to go back to the cubicle or crummy office. But what is happening is that people are losing their work ethic and their passion for doing what they signed up to do. Why is this happening? Because no one wants to work 40 hours anymore. I heard somewhere, I don’t remember where, I think it was a conversation that I was having with a client, and she was saying you know the 40 hour work week was created for the working man. The working man had a wife. The wife cooked and cleaned so that he could focus on work, come home to a ready made meal, the kids were taken care of, the house was clean and fridge was full of food, and all he had worry about was his business meetings.
The 40 hour work week was not ideal for two working parents or single parents or solo parents. What is actually happening now is that people are screaming for freedom. We are desperately searching for a break mentally and emotionally so that we can enjoy our families, our children while they are young, to travel, to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
The answer to all of this freedom talk? It’s doing what you love. It’s figuring that out. You may have to hit a few imbalances along the way in order to achieve balance later, and you may need to do the tasks you don’t want to do until you can hire a team to do those for you. But this is temporary. And when you do what you love, you have found your purpose. And there is a stronger drive for individuals to be living their purpose instead of a constant search for happiness.
We achieve contentment when we have found our purpose. When we are truly doing what we love to do we work harder than we’ve ever worked before, because we love it. When you find that, waking up to take on the day is exciting. When I work with clients one on one a very important exercise I do is ask them a specific series of questions to get to what their ideal day is – and that is the ultimate goal. To live your ideal day. When you have found and transitioned into living that, you are no longer working – you are living your purpose and feeling fulfilled.
Here is what I know for sure:
What I know for sure: it’s okay to ask for help. Giving yourself permission to ask and then accept help when it’s offered is a huge step in the right direction. We sometimes put up such a strong front that we can handle it all, and when we seek advise from our elders – mom or grandma they usually tell us how they raised 6 kids with no help, and if they did it so can you, you will figure it out. Um, I don’t want to figure it out, I want some bloody help!
Finding balance is different for everyone, and I’m not sure if it’s necessarily finding balance that we are looking for, but it’s paying attention to your body and connecting to yourself so well that you know your own personal boundaries. Becoming aware of your own energy cup – noticing your energy input vs your energy output and understanding what you need. When you are in tune with your own body, energies and boundaries, you can feel a burnout before it happens, you know when you’re doing too much – and everyone’s threshold is different. Don’t beat yourself up because Susie can handle more than you. Comparison is an evil emotion to get stuck in.
As we teach in coaching, small hinges swing big doors – we need start adding in consistent baby steps in order to make the big changes to get to where we want to go. It’s all about consistency, not perfection to have lasting change. What are small changes that you can do to lighten your load, reduce your stress, and transition the way you are living your life right now?