Oops! I did it again again.
Towards the end of last year, October – November-ish, I started to feel tired, like a soul-level tired that is just not relieved by sleep, which as it turned out was a good thing because I had insomnia too and on nights that I didn’t have insomnia, my sleep was broken and restless. I just assumed that 2020 was taking its toll on me as it was doing with almost every other individual on the planet, except Jeff Bezos – he was having an epic time.
I was forgetting everything. I’d write it down and either forget what I was writing halfway through the note or forget to look at the ‘To-Do’ list of the note, usually I’d forget where I’d put the note anyway. My focus and passion were waning so much that when my necklace just broke with no known force, I laughed really hard as it held an engraving that says, “Do it with passion, or not at all”. Well played Universe!
Then the forgetfulness got worse, my creativity all but disappeared, I lost sight of everything I have been working for and my ‘fucks given’ function had all but up and left completely. It is next to impossible to be a content producer when your energy and creativity have taken itself on an extended vacation without you.
I was completely numb, I felt nothing at all, nothing, not even frustration. Seriously, nothing. I couldn’t even voice exhaustion because I just couldn’t find the words to even begin to understand it myself, never mind explain it. I couldn’t concentrate. I had no focus. I had spent early lockdown reaching out to people with updates and trying to distract them and cheer them up, but by year-end I couldn’t even be bothered to reach out to people. I had my regular coaching, accountability and Mastermind calls but that was all I could energise myself to do. Some days I just watched my phone ring, sending bullshit WhatsApp apology messages for missed calls later in the day, or even the next day. Whatever ever this was had made me a liar and I was hurting people, that was devastating to me and I beat myself up about it then and even now.
That’s when it all clicked into place, I had burnt myself out again. I am a workaholic, I always have been, but I am also dedicated to helping others as well as to my personal and professional development and once again, I had lost control of my self-care and my own scheduling and was trying to do everything all at once and solve the world’s problems at the same time, which actually led instead, to me not making the difference I hoped to at all, I just did further damage to myself.
On top of it all, I had aches and pains that made no sense as I wasn’t doing anything, I got a cold without even leaving the house, I hurt my neck waking up, I was getting severe headaches and earache. I was making excuses about not exercising, which is always, always, always my saviour through stressful times, I was drinking too much, and I was eating crap. I’m not going to let lockdown number whatever this is, I forget, be the excuse for this, I am to blame. I didn’t focus on myself enough, I didn’t think about my own self-care or the damage I was doing to myself. My brain is extremely adept at physically taking me out of action when I won’t listen to my body and follow the signs.
If you don’t recognise burnout, it can be career-ending but more importantly, it can be life ending as it has an impact on your heart. Burnout is serious.
10 Signs of burnout
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Feeling tired and drained all the time
- Lack of motivation
- Detachment and withdrawing socially
- Using substances to cope
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Decreased immune system and frequent illness
- Lowered confidence
- Withdrawing from responsibility
- Brain fog or poor cognitive function
10 Ways to heal from burnout
- Make exercise a priority
- Stick to a healthy balanced diet
- Set clear boundaries and learn to say ‘No’
- Step away from social media and all technology/ screen
- Get creative – take up a hobby like drawing or woodwork
- Rest! Sleep when you need to but also rest your brain and eyes
- Reach out to loved ones or professionals like coaches and therapists
- Avoid energy vampires
- Take vitamins to boost your immunity
- Create and enforce a work-life balance
Not surprisingly, I have changed my working hours and have committed to stick to my reduced hours post lockdown. For the moment, there isn’t all that much else to do and Netflix is a rabbit hole I don’t want to get stuck down in its place. My health, wellbeing and self-care are taking top priority, and my goal is to keep them at number 1.
If you think you have or are approaching burnout, please take action immediately.