By Sophie Black
Being ‘too busy’ can sometimes feel like a badge of honour. People assume that we must lead incredibly dynamic and exciting lives, that we are highly superior, indispensable even.
The reality is that we are a generation of overachievers. We put immense pressure upon ourselves to succeed in all aspects of life; as mothers, role models, partners, colleagues and friends. It is no wonder that our mental health is at an all time low.
Burnout has always been an issue within society, it has just never been brought to the forefront of our attention until now. It is a recognised and, unfortunately, widespread condition that is brought on by physical and mental exhaustion. Fatigue, cynicism, insomnia, and feeling detached can all be common signs. You may even feel like those thoughts and feelings are unjustified, particularly if you lead a seemingly stress free life.
But, you must remember that burnout is a state of mind, and therefore it has the ability to affect every single one of us.
Signs can also sometimes appear small and insignificant. I used to have an inability to sit still. I thought it was because I had a short attention span, but I soon came to realise that sitting still allowed my mind to stew on anxious thoughts and feelings that I didn’t want to confront, so, I chose to ignore them. Unfortunately, busying yourself and choosing avoidance over exposure will only ever delay the inevitable.
It is also important to remember that just because you have a highly stressful job, that doesn’t mean that you will instantaneously be crippled with chronic stress disorder. You just have to know how to manage it. Eliminating all of the unreasonable standards that you have put upon yourself can be a really good place to start.
Challenge your role not only at work but also at home, do you have to be the only person who empties the dishwasher or picks up the dirty towels every single day? Perhaps you only ever schedule video meetings at work, but actually, a phone call could be just as effective? Often, even when signs of stress or anxiety seem to have appeared out of nowhere, they are the result of the continued pressure that we put upon ourselves. Finding ways to relieve some of that burden, no matter how insignificant it may seem, can make a huge difference.
It can also be really valuable to consider setting some boundaries. We all know how far we are willing to be pushed before we snap, figuratively speaking at least. Working yourself into the ground can be necessary in some instances, if you have a tight deadline to work towards or a temporary increase in workload, but the real issue begins when you start to work yourself into the ground indefinitely. This is an impossible standard to inflict upon yourself. If pushing back and challenging your boss is just not an option, then you also may wish to consider your values. If the company you work for doesn’t champion honest conversations and employee wellbeing, then do they really care for you?
Burnout isn’t always directly caused by our job, it can also manifest from difficult relationships, an overwhelming workload at home, or generalised stress and anxiety. So, as we ease back into the world, just remember to continue setting boundaries in your personal life. Next time you find yourself agreeing to go to an event or even a get together with some mates, just be sure to ask yourself if you’re going because you want to or because you feel obliged.
Because being indispensable, as a mother, friend, partner or colleague, should never have to cost you your state of mind.