It has been a long few weeks, but I finally feel like I am coming out the other side.
So today, I want to talk about burnout.
Burnout is defined by Merriam-Webster as: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. And the World Health Organization defines it as: a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
This story starts a few months ago. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but I have a feeling it was when the world really started opening up again and the possibility of going back to work in an office started to become a reality.
I started having weird, unexplained health issues and an overwhelming fatigue. The challenge for me usually is that Fibromyalgia is characterized by fatigue and pain, and for me, fatigue is one of my main symptoms. So, when it came to this fatigue, I didn’t think much of it for awhile. I went through rounds of testing to try to figure out what is going on with the other health issues, and there is still more to come. No real resolution on that right now.
But two weeks ago, I had to go into my office for the first time in over a year. That seems to have been my tipping point that started me thinking about burnout and whether that might be affecting me.
That day, I found myself really enjoying seeing people again and while there weren’t a lot of people there, it was enough that I spent most of my time catching up with people and very little on work. I also found that the lack of having a dedicated space with all the right ergonomic equipment (my office has gone to shared spaces that are all the same), really messed up how my body feels and sent me into a Fibro spiral that weekend of pain and feeling sick. Then there was the final event that lead me to seek out a therapist for burnout. I went to the grocery store and picked up an online order and then drove the 10 min back to my house where I then forgot to take my groceries inside. Realized it when I was getting ready for bed. It was not my finest moment and I knew right then that I needed to get some help.
I reached out to a therapist who specializes in burnout and chronic stress. We had a good first session and I am feeling less exhaustion.
We identified some of my bigger stressors and worked on setting up some strategies for helping with them.
- Number one was don’t go back into the office again for a while. Traffic stresses me out, parking stresses me out, and not being comfortable while working stresses me out so this way we can eliminate all of those stressors. We are going to tackle better coping mechanisms at a future session.
- Number two was take more breaks. It is not good for our bodies or our brains to stare at a screen for 8 hours straight each day, but that is what I was doing. So, this week, I took more breaks. Walked outside when I could. Did some yoga poses. Just got away from the computer for short stints more often.
- Number three was trying to handle my overwhelm of all the things I had to get done. I have always found this difficult and even though I have lists that break down the tasks into manageable pieces, I always find it overwhelming. So, we are trying to work on my expectations this week and setting boundaries on what I am truly able to do. This is the hardest task for me.
I feel that these strategies are really helping but they aren’t going to completely solve the problem. I still love the people I work with and most of my actual work, but I still don’t want to go to work tomorrow. And that is one of my main problems. I just feel like I need a very long break. I am taking time off in two weeks and I am committing to not having a computer screen for a good portion of it. Maybe that will help even more. We will see. For now, I am just happy that I am no longer feeling the crushing exhaustion and I can remember to bring my groceries in.
That is it for this week. I wish you all a stress free week and hopefully, I will see you back here next week.