Someone working a 12-hour workday 7 days a week but finds a way to relax likely has no problems with burnout. They’re working hard and that’s the state you should be in.
- The Compulsion to Prove Oneself: demonstrating worth obsessively
- Working Harder: an inability to switch off.
- Neglecting Needs: erratic sleeping, eating disrupted, lack of social interaction.
- Displacement of Conflicts: problems are dismissed; we may feel threatened, panicky, and jittery.
- Revision of Values: Values are skewed, friends and family dismissed, hobbies seen as irrelevant. Work is the only focus.
- Denial of Emerging Problems: intolerance; perceiving collaborators as stupid, lazy, demanding, or undisciplined; social contacts harder; cynicism, aggression; problems are viewed as caused by time pressure and work, not because of life changes.
- Withdrawal: social life small or nonexistent, need to feel relief from stress, alcohol/drugs.
- Odd Behavioral Changes: changes in behaviour obvious; friends and family concerned.
- Depersonalization: seeing neither self nor others as valuable, and no longer perceive own needs.
- Inner Emptiness: feeling empty inside and to overcome this, look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs; activities are often exaggerated.
- Depression: feeling lost and unsure, exhausted, future feels bleak and dark.
- Burnout Syndrome: can include total mental and physical collapse; time for full medical attention.
To my mind, ‘depersonalization’ is the red-line. Beyond that lies substance abuse and the classic symptoms of someone struggling with debilitating stress (read here on how to identify and address it). Having lived on that 1 to 12 continuum for the better part of 3-4 yrs I can tell you 4 things that you can do to help yourself immediately.
- Discipline: Seems like the advice from a generation ago, but it is the simplest way of snapping out of that state. The discipline of getting up and doing what must be done makes for half the sense of purpose and well-being. Start with getting up early, to begin with.
- Breaking down tasks: Looking at the problem in its entirely keeps making it appear large and you keep alternate between throwing more time at it and freezing in front of it. Break it down and attack a smaller chunk. It causes you to feel better and focus on the next chunk.
- Taking time off social media: (A) It sucks away your productive time into what looks like work but is not (B) Subliminally you focus what is the ‘reality’ you are being shown — fabulous vacations, great social lives and perfect families. The truth is almost certainly most aspect of their lives suck. Now get back to yours.
- Excercise: Its the one thing that will change everything in terms of your mental well-being. Walking around for an hour is not exercise. Sweating it out for just 10 minutes so you can’t stand is. Focus on pushing yourself for a shorter time. Everyday.
I will share later here on how to put it to practice, and in my talks, if I do one near you.