Signs you’re reaching [or have reached] burnout

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Burnout. Something we’ve all felt one time or another, whether we were acutely aware of it or not. Sometimes you need a friend to give you a heads up that you should slow down or change something up. Sometimes the burnout is temporary from taking on too much, and sometimes it’s from a larger issue that’s zapping all of your energy!

As a creative, burnout is bound to happen because we tend to go, go, go – get wrapped up in projects and self care can easily fall to the wayside. Keep in mind that burnout doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly related to your main job – it can also be social or volunteer based, for example.

Warning signs you might be reaching burnout:

Overwhelming frustration

You’re snapping at your friends and family and you’re not sure why. You have a short fuse and less patience than you’ve ever had before.

Take a break from social obligations and communicate to your social circle that you are overwhelmed. You can also apologize for having your frustration come out in that way. You’ll be surprised how many friends may offer to help take something off your plate! They won’t know if you don’t tell them you need help.

You’re creatively stuck

Creativity doesn’t run out the more you use it, but when you’re depleted of energy it is 100% harder to be creative. Don’t forget to leave some white space in your days :)

When you’re frustrated over lack of creativity, avoid getting stuck in the loop of looking at other people’s work on the internet to inspire you – this will give you some short-term inspiration but end up frustrating you even more! Instead, take a visual break and look to another medium such a listening to new music, watching a film, or walking around an antique shop.

Constant fatigue

No matter how much you’re sleeping, you’re feeling exhausted. Our bodies will always come through and let us know when something isn’t right.

Make sure you’re not oversleeping as well, as you can feel just as exhausted! As hard as it will be to pick yourself up and exercise when you’re experiencing burnout, it is something that will help replenish your energy. Try a high intensity workout or yoga.

If you’re having chronic fatigue issues, please considering speaking with a professional to see if the cause is something beyond your control.

You can’t seem to make simple decisions

When your brain is overwhelmed and you’re emotionally fatigued, every decision is a hard one – even if it’s something like picking out your clothes in the morning. Decision fatigue is a real thing as well!

Take the time to make things easier on yourself while you tackle recovering from being burnt out. Lay out some simple clothes the night before for a few days, or treat yourself to a meal delivery service to reduce some decisions and help you get back on track. Overall, look into your lifestyle and go through how many decisions you typically make in one day, and work on paring them down and simplifying.

You’ve been getting things done, but you don’t feel accomplished.

This might be the most frustrating symptom! You’re on autopilot and just going through the motions – therefore you can’t accurately reflect on or see what you have done.

Journal and make a list of everything you’ve done in the last week or so, and what your current responsibilities are. This will help you see that you have possibly taken on too much and are stretching yourself too thin.

Lack of passion

You used to have lots of passion for what you do, but now you find you couldn’t care less about the outcomes.

If you still have to work through a task and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – try to pick out one small thing about the task or project that you’re interested in. If you can’t find anything, create it. Rewrite the brief using your favorite color scheme and set of fonts, for example. It sounds silly, but the simple idea of changing up something small can reignite a small flame.

You can’t stand to look at social media

You find yourself taking a break from social media because you don’t want to see happy people and their seemingly balanced lives.

Allow yourself to take a purposeful social media break to focus on yourself – but because you want to, not because your anger is making you feel you have to. Challenge yourself to go for a walk or run some errands without a phone and notice how differently you interact with the world.

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1 comment

  • Judy says:

    This is such a great eye opener. I feel like I’m on the verge of a burnout but it’s because my 9 month old hasn’t slept through the night yet. It’s crazy what lack of sleep can do. I like the idea of journaling what you do and seeing what can be crossed off your list so that you can have more time.

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