A while weeks ago I found myself involved in a war of words with a colleague. I did not respond well and found myself shaking and in tears for much of a two week period. I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t eating well, and I certainly was not happy. It was time to stop for a while and take stock of what was happening.
I have been reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Bean Breathnach for the past year and today’s reading hit me between the eyes.
She began with a quote by Edna St. Vincent Millay: My candle burns on both ends; It will not last the night. Exactly what I was feeling.
She went on to say that “burnout is a condition caused by unbalance: too much work or responsibility, too little time to do it, over too long a period.” Yes, that too. Too many clubs, too much responsibility, feeling I had to carry everything on my shoulders, that if things failed, it would be my fault, and over too long a time period — 12 years. Or wait, maybe it was even longer, maybe 28 years – since my husband left me with 4 kids to raise, and when I worked full time, raised the kids and took my university degree over 13 years.
Whatever it was, as Sarah said, “a smoldering flame can be just as deadly as a flash fire” and I think that things were smoldering below the surface for quite some time. Sarah called it when she said, “first degree burnout–the soul snuffer–comes from living unbalanced for years, when what was supposed to be a temporary situation becomes a lifestyle”.
Her final paragraph told me what I have to do. “When you’re suffering from burnout, you are the only person on earth who can help because you’re the only one who can make the lifestyle changes that need to be made; to call a halt, to take a slower path, to make a detour.” And so I have. I have cut back on meetings. I am letting others take control. I am backing away from too much responsibility. I am taking better care of me, going to bed earlier, eating better, stopping work earlier, taking time to get out in nature.
How about you? Are you beginning to feel the strain of burnout? Take the time now to make the necessary changes before you crash and burn.
See below for a short test you can take.
To a new and better you (BANABU)
ARE YOU A STRESS PRONE PERSONALITY?
SCORE YOURSELF: 4 Always 3 Frequently 2 Sometimes 1 Never
- Do you try to do as much as possible in the least amount of time? _____
- Do you become impatient with delays or interruptions? _____
- Do you always have to win games to enjoy yourself? _____
- Do you speed up the car to beat the red light? _____
- Are you unlikely to ask for help with a problem? _____
- Do you constantly seek admiration and respect from others? _____
- Are you overly critical of the way others do their work? _____
- Do you have the habit of looking at your watch or clock often? _____
- Do you constantly strive to better your position and achievements? _____
- Do you spread yourself too thin in terms of time? _____
- Do you do more than one thing at a time? _____
- Do you frequently get irritable or angry? _____
- Do you have little time for hobbies or time by yourself? _____
- Do you have a habit of talking quickly or hastening conversations? _____
- Do you consider yourself hard-driving? _____
- Do your friends or relatives consider you hard-driving? _____
- Do you have a tendency to get involved in multiple projects? _____
- Do you have a lot of deadlines in your work? _____
- Do you feel vaguely guilty if you relax and do nothing during leisure? _____
- Do you take on too many responsibilities? _____
- Between 20 – 30, your life probably lacks stimulation
- Between 31 – 50, you have a good balance in your ability to handle stress
- Between 51 – 60, you are bordering on excessively tense
- Over 60 – you may be a candidate for heart disease