One day, you are just there. In the middle of it.
It can be a challenge to recognize burnout. Maybe a friend points it out to you.
“Hey, don’t you see? You are burned out!”
“Really? You think so?”
You thought you were just exhausted. “I just need to catch up on sleep.”
But it doesn’t happen.
You thought that the ridiculous workload was just temporary. “I just need to finish this one more thing.”
There’s always more.
You thought that you just had to tolerate the toxic work environment. “I just need to stay quiet and take it.”
It doesn’t make it go away.
Burnout may not manifest in any of the common symptoms of burnout. You may even enjoy and love the work you do.
“I don’t understand. I’m excited to wake up every morning to get to work. That can’t be burnout.”
But it has completely consumed you. It has crawled into and taken hold of every crevice of your life: work, family, friends, health.
You are in a mouse wheel, trying to keep up, running as fast as you can. Yet the speed keeps increasing. The wheel is spinning much too fast. It’s impossible to outrun it. So with knuckles white, holding your breath, you hold on. Afraid to lose your grip.
It is hard to figure out what to do when you are in the middle of it all. Desperately trying to keep up, but your grip is getting weaker.
Pushing harder doesn’t help. Working more hours is impossible. You have no more to give. The tank is empty. Something’s got to give.
What to do?
Should I take a break or ask for help? Should I talk to the boss or HR? Should I quit or continue?
Attention! You have reached the point of burnout. Pull the handbrake and step out.
It may feel like you have no control, but there is always something you can control and do. Take a step back. Reach out for support. Exercise. Breathe. Sleep. Evaluate your options.
Find the thread – your thread. Grab it and tug it to start unraveling the ball of hot mess and your way out of the burnout.