What is Burnout?

WHAT IS BURNOUT?  Psychologists say that burnout is related to chronic stress. It’s generally made up of the following components: physical tiredness; emotional exhaustion; cynicism and detachment; lower self-esteem; a decreased sense of accomplishment; less passion in life. But you don't have to have all of these to be experiencing burnout. The scariest thing about burnout is that it eventually becomes your new operating reality and leads to negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Harvard has shown that 75% of job success is directly related to optimism levels.  Without optimism, you will have less Hope, Focus, Passion, Creativity, Innovation, and reduced decision-making skills.  All of these are a recipe for disaster. Also, it’s important to know that burnout is not just related to work. It can happen in all areas of life.

SYMPTOMS OF BURNOUT: It can look a little different for everyone. However, it’s a slow drip versus a dramatic moment.  There are no set criteria for it but you will know it because of the difference, over an extended period of time, between your personal average “normal baselines” related to your physical and emotional states. You will become aware that your personal baselines are at new levels that are not healthy (e.g. feeling blah over an extended period of time, lack of wonder, lack of interest, procrastination, etc.). Physically it can manifest in a way that affects: libido:  sleeping too much or not enough; fertility; menstrual cycle; brain fog; etc.  Emotionally it can affect you in these ways: you become short with people you care about;  you become short with people at work; you start pulling away from people that you care about; you become more critical about acquaintances and people you just met as well as friends and loved ones; you are less trusting; you are more jealous about random things; you experience lower self-esteem; most tasks that were simple now seem like a mountain. Many of the emotional symptoms are a catalyst for creating a spiral of self-fulfilling prophecies (you start believing that you shouldn’t be loved, believe co-workers don’t like you, etc.) So, you should pay attention to what your signs are and begin a personal intervention.

SOLUTION: It's different for everyone but here are the key things that have had results for the majority of people.  The truth is that it requires INTENT.  Research shows that we have control over 40% of our happiness; and that humans have an anatomical negativity bias that is 3 times more powerful than an inclination towards positivity.  So, the truth is that we need a playbook on how to architect happiness versus leaving it to chance.

  • Taking a break: a huge myth is that just taking a “break” can remove burnout. Yes, a break can be the first step in slowing down to evaluate the reality of your situation. But many times, a break doesn’t get to the core.  
  • Good day/Bad day audit: review things that drain you versus things that fuels you. this is a huge self-awareness exercise. Then figure out how to stagger “fueling” and “draining” activities throughout the day.
  • Name it and Tame it: when you feel yourself “going negative” or feeling conflict or anxiousness,  then the first step is to name it (e.g Grumpy Pants; Anxious Andy; the demon of self-doubt, etc.) and then tame it by reminding yourself that this is a temporary feeling. Remember times in which you have overcome this in the past. Immediately engage in gratitude statements (or any number of positivity triggers that adjust your mood even as simple as a random act of kindness-------in fact there are over 34 triggers you can deploy).
  • Control what you can control: accomplish a task that YOU created as a “to do”. This releases a sense of empowerment as well as more dopamine into your brain chemical makeup (this is where “make your bed every morning” comes into play).
  • Immutable self-health appointments (example of controlling what you can control):  schedule healthy interventions throughout the day that allow you to stop, drop and roll towards releasing burnout toxins.
  • Supplements/Teas/Homoeopathy that is proven and reviewed by your doctor and nutritionist: start with researching the function of the ANS (autonomic nervous system) as well as the negative effects of cortisol (released when you are stressed and can easily lead to weight gain).


Much like burnout was a slow drip, your intervention will require small steps. These small steps eventually snowball into momentum and reestablishing your personal “normal” baselines. Give yourself positive feedback when you are engaging in the small steps. 

Be Well, Make it a great day, Todd


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