Burn out is NOT being tired.  It is not being lazy or hating your job.  It’s a medical condition caused by persistent and excessive stress.  And it can harm you.

Life is not a competition to see who can hold the most stress inside.  Nor is what you’re feeling less important than what others are experiencing.  If you’re on the road to burn out … or are already there … you need to understand and address your condition immediately.  There are things you can do to recognize the symptoms, and things you can do to resolve them.  And most importantly, don’t be afraid to get professional help if you need it.  Burn out isn’t a skinned knee.

As for this video?  It’s my story.

Story/Script

I had originally created a long script for this, which I abandoned in favor of just speaking from the heart.  But here’s the original script, because I had some great information.

SCENE ZERO (hook)

(concerned question, followed by a pause, shake of the head, and waiting.  somber but not sad music)

How do you tell the difference between burn out, and simply being overwhelmed and tired?  Well ….

SCENE ONE (intro – the setup)

(all talking head)

Do you feel exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically?  

Burn out is an actual medical condition caused by excessive and prolonged stress.  It’s not just being tired, lazy, or in need of a vacation.  And if you don’t address it, things are only going to get worse.

And for the record, I’m making this video because … I’m finding myself suffering from burn out for the very first time.  And it’s not what I was expecting.  

So one final note before we get started … if you’re watching this, you’re probably concerned for yourself.  Watching videos is good, getting professional help is better.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist to address your needs.  You’re very much worth it.

SCENE TWO (conflict)

(voice over b-roll interspersed with talking head)

Let’s look at six signs of burn out.  

Number One … are you disconnected from everything?  Do you feel detached?

📍  The people and activities in your life, do you feel like you’re simply running on auto-pilot.  Like there’s no emotional energy in your actions?  Folks experiencing burn out often simply go through the paces.  They feel virtually nothing as they interact with others and move through life.

Number Two … are you unmotivated?

📍  Everyone gets unmotivated at one point or the other.  A constant state of energy usually isn’t possible.  But when motivation is consistently elusive, when nothing feels urgent or pressing, and when you simply don’t care anymore about what you’re doing … you could be burning out.

Number Three … do you lack passion?

📍  The things that once brought joy and pleasure.  Things like hobbies, sports, your special talents.  People experiencing burn out no longer have those desires.  Those passions.  You do things because you’re supposed to do them, not because you want to do them.

Number Four … are you moody?  Far moodier than usual? 

📍  Everyone gets irritable from time to time.  It’s normal.  But when people experience burn out, those feelings BECOME your normal.  It’s hard to respond to anyone or anything without snapping.  Your baseline responses are never joyful, or even neutral.

Number Five … is your self-care and hygiene lacking?

📍  Burn out can easily allow you to just ignore that which sustains you.  Bathing, brushing teeth, eating healthily.  Even taking medication or seeing your doctor.  It just doesn’t feel important.

And Number Six … did this happen suddenly, or over time?

📍  Burn out is not acute.  You don’t wake up with it.  It’s the result of constant and persistent stress and it’s effect on your well-being.  You might not even see the slow decline on a day-to-day basis.  Much like the proverbial flog in the cauldron of water.

SCENE THREE (resolution)

(voice over b-roll interspersed with talking head)

So, how’d you do score-wise?  

Did you just check off a few boxes?  

Or did you get a perfect six?

What CAN you do about burn out?  Well, for starters, get professional help if you need it.  This is not something to be ashamed of, or to put off.  Mental health is … health.

But there are some tips I have found that may alleviate your worse symptoms.  And hopefully get you on the road to recovery.

Number One is to remove your stressors.  Now this can feel hard, perhaps even impossible.  But if you can, put distance … permanent distance if necessary … between yourself and what is stressing you.

For me, my two biggest stressors are work and the covid lockdown.  Two things many of you probably also share.  Work is the easier one for me to address.  Worst case is I leave the job and seek something better, which I’m 99% sure I’m going to do.  The lockdown?  A little harder, but I am taking steps to put that as far away from me as possible as well.  Safely, I might add.  You just need to believe that it can be done.

Number Two is to take a break.  If you can’t permanently get away, then do it temporarily.  But give it long enough for the stress to reduce.  A two-week staycation probably isn’t going to resolve much.

I’m in the middle of just such a two-weeker, and I can tell you it’s just enough to reduce homicidal tendencies.  But no where near enough to heal.  Sometimes we just need to take baby steps.  Our burn out didn’t happen overnight.  It’s not going to go away after a brief holiday.  But those holidays can help break the cycle.

Number Three is the usual nutrition, exercise, and sleep pep talk.  All of which you’ve probably been neglecting.  But in order for your body to support your mind, which will support your well-being … it needs to be healthy and strong.  So pushing through what you don’t feel like pushing through is pretty damn important. 

Number Four is support.  Mental health … and burn out … can be silent killers.  Share with your family and close friends what you’re experiencing.  And don’t try to sugar coat it by saying you’re tired and need a break.  If you don’t help them to understand the severity of what’s happening to you, they won’t be able to help.

Trust me … this is an easy one to … not get right.

And finally, Number Five, don’t ignore this.  I cannot emphasize ENOUGH how important your mental health is.  

I am the king of stubbornness.  Of downplaying what ails me and of being a Pollyanna.  I have always struggled with accepting help … and don’t even get me started on asking for it.  But I now recognize how serious burn out is.  I see the signs in myself that simply … aren’t me.  I don’t know who they belong to.

These are indeed trying times we find ourselves in.  You may be tired.  Or you may be burnt out.  In either case, don’t ignore it.  Because like I said earlier … you’re worth it.

We’ll see you soon.

(the end)

———

Dig into it.  Are YOU burned out?  Do you even know what it is?  

I kinda envision this as being helpful for those experiencing what we’ve all experienced … on top of our individual experiences.  Perhaps highlight each of the these with a personal (and short) story to highlight.  But tell them over and over, this isn’t an answer video.  If they get enough checkmarks, professional help is needed.  To find a path out.

  1. Emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion
  2. Disconnected From Everything, Detached
  3. Unmotivated
  4. Lack Of Passion In Things, Sports, Talents, Hobbies
  5. Moody and Irritable
  6. Lack Of Self-Care
  7. Changes Happened Gradually, Not Acute

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