It’s usually when I least expect it. I convince myself I’m doing a great job managing and balancing stress and relaxation; until the fateful day comes when I go to bed at 5pm and can’t get out of bed the next morning because I’m so tired. And thinking about going to work makes me want to call in sick. Burn out strikes again.
It’s not long before the guilt and shame, self judgement and self criticism kick in and I am beating myself up that I ‘let this happen again’. I take a few days off, recharge by engaging in relaxing and fun activities. I’ve learned that is all I personally need is a few days of relaxation and fun and then I am able to return to ‘the grind’ a refreshed and balanced version of myself. Promising myself I will pay better attention to when I need a break so I don’t burn out again. Quite frankly, burning out is exhausting; and it can be avoided with self awareness, self care and balance.
Burn out is a real thing, and it can sneak up on you if you aren’t mindful and aware of your feelings and emotions. Common job burn out symptoms are:
- Chronic stress
- Sadness, anger or irritability
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vulnerability to illnesses
When I say job I am also talking about school. Teens and young adults can experience burn out at school and sports. Parents can look for common signs of burn out in teens and young adults by paying attention to their sleep, sadness, anger, hostility, insomnia and physical health. Teens aren’t always going to tell you they feel overwhelmed, they are more likely to act it out in dramatic effect.
Parents and other adults can help teens recognize the signs, manage and cope with burn out the following 3 ways:
Getting in Touch With Your Feelings. Adults have more years of experience at life than teens and young adults. Many more years to experience feelings and emotions, failures and successes, ups and downs, etc. Many years of understanding everyone reacts differently to different situations. Therefore, communicating appropriately how you are feeling by talking out loud about it on a daily basis will help teens and young children improve their emotional intelligence; how to recognize feelings and express them appropriately. This also gives teens and young children an opportunity to practice empathy and validation; which they will also best learn when you model them. Talk about feelings and emotions on a DAILY BASIS, not only does talking about it daily improve emotional intelligence, self awareness, empathy and validation; it reduces the stigma around talking about emotions and mental health issues.
Model Healthy Stress Management. Take time to care for yourself in healthy ways and allow your teens to see you make those healthy choices. For example, turning off the TV and phone and choosing to read a book. Saying ‘No’ to a night out and staying in to take a relaxing bath and go to bed early. Taking an hour to go for a walk or take a trip to the gym. Try not to consistently complain aloud about your stress; it’s okay to talk about it but when you have finished talking, mention how you feel better and then verbally focus on solutions to your challenges. It’s more important to model self care than it is to talk about doing it. Self care is to physically and mentally care for yourself; by turning off the screen, staying in and exercising, and also brainstorming solutions to the challenges you face.
Knowing Your Limits & Abiding By Them. We don’t have to ‘do it all’. We are human, not superhuman. Culturally people are rewarded with praise and positive attention for working hard and nonstop, but at what cost? There is no shame in taking a break from work, even work you love and are extremely passionate about. Everyone needs a break. Learn how hard you can go and for how long before you need a break. Then take a break. Encourage your teen to take a break and praise them when they do. Finding a healthy balance may take some failures, but once you find a healthy balance, listen and follow through. A car can’t get very far on an empty tank. Neither can you.
~ The Psyko Therapist