Where have I been? Burning out and suffering from Chronic Stress
I wanted to start this blog post but being open as answer a few questions and acknowledging that I have’ t posted in a very long time.
You might be asking: Where have you been? Why did you go MIA? You haven’t posted in month – what was all this talk about doing consistent posting and then you disappeared? What the Fudge? What happened to you?
These are questions that I am guessing most of you aren’t asking but more likely are questions that I have been asking myself. I appreciate that many of you might be new to this blog and also those who aren’t might just be happy with me posting frequently again (hopefully a few of you – thank you) but I felt I owe you a bit of an explanation of where I had been mainly for two reasons:
- I would be interested if I was in your position and also to make sure that I stay honest with you all.
- That more people need to openly talk about mental health and what they are going through whether that is everyday stress to larger mental issues. It is through sharing that we learn and feel better.
So where have I been, why haven’t I posted in months?
Yes, I haven’t posts on my blog for over three months, and I am sorry for that, as I did talk previously about doing regular posting but I have over that same period of absence been suffering from Burnout. So as much as I am sorry for pretty much disappeared from my own blog, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to be here with you and continuing building this community. It was the fact that I finally came to the conclusion that over the last year I have been suffering from growing stress levels that lead to me finally reaching Burnout.
How did I come to the conclusion I had Burnout?
For the last 18 months plus, I have been very busy (crazy busy) in my job, single-handily running a large IT project (including 4am calls whilst on holiday), managing a whole division and doing the strategy and implementation of a business overhaul. My brain had been running at near capacity for a large period of time, from working crazy hours with pretty unpleasant office politics and just doing more work than a single-sane-person should try handle. We launched the new business in the later summer and it didn’t go well – had to cancel holidays, more politics etc and so one for the coming months. What this meant for me personally meant that due to stress I wasn’t looking after my body – my fitness routines all feel to wayside (couldn’t find the time and energy – even though I should have) – my stress levels didn’t have done to peek and tough, they were at a near constant levels of high and very high.
Basically I literally burned myself out by putting myself through too much and not looking after myself mentally or physical. However, I was just going know that I was suffering from stress, keeping up with the work and doing the hours. I was trying to powering through.
Then I suddenly had that moment where I know something more than stress was happening. It all happened in a very odd way. I was at work, doing something on LinkedIn and was going through my feed and someone has posted an article about talking about the impact of burnout on employee turnover. This article wouldn’t normally intrigue me that much but on this organise it did, I clicked through and read it. This then lead to me doing a bit of a research and found this Psychology Today article – which talks about what is Burnout and whilst I was reading it I just kept finding myself in the what it was describing starting with three main signs:
- physical and emotional exhaustion;
- cynicism and detachment; and
- feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Beyond that attitudes, it stated that when you had it full-fledged it was chronic stress and you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level – that lack of efficiency and productivity really good out to me. The research also confirmed, that it doesn’t happen suddenly, you don’t just wake up with it, but that it was a slow-building of stress which is much more insidious, creeping up on you over time like a slow leak which means that many don’t realise they have reached that point of Burnout. After reading this article it was crystal clear to me that I had burnout and it was such a reflect to know what I was feeling wasn’t uncommon or just me.
The article has a lot more details on the individual tell-tale sides that you do have Burnout, and engage anyone who is finding themselves relating to this story to read it.
What did having Burnout mean to me?
As the article states, it didn’t happen overnight, but I had been feeling for a while that something just wasn’t right, I just thought it was stress and just feeling frustrated at work. I starting feeling it wasn’t just me having an off day or week but that it was larger than that – it was different to stress I had experienced before. After reading that article, I just took a few days to slow done and take stock and look at all the tell-tale signs of chronic stress to truly see that was what the ‘off feeling’ was.
I came to the conclusion that I lacked energy both physically and especially mentally to do anything which required high level of concentration or thought. Moreover, the big insight for me, personally that this was larger than just stress and actually Burnout was that feeling of “I didn’t care”. What I mean by that is that I lacked motivation, enthusiasm and conviction to fully commit to doing a number of my day-to-day things (especially at work). It wasn’t that I couldn’t do these activities just that I wasn’t getting pleasure out of them and I wasn’t motivated by a sense of accomplishment.
In addition what triggered me knowing there was a larger that just not likely my current work project was when this lack of caring in areas of my life that I had exciting plans and I know I got enjoyment and pleasure from such as this blog.
It felt like my body just went into energy saving mode, I just wanted and needed to be a little mindless for a while as I had just reach a limit with stress.
It had lead to a poor health choices from binge and unhealthy eating, stopping going running and to the gym, not practicing much self-care, all creativity being put on the back burner. Productivity and problem solving ability just seemed to go in all aspect of my life from work, personal projects, cooking and physical activities. I was just taking the easy way out of life and making the choices that required the least amount of mental and physical effort.
What Happened to you after knowing You had Burnout?
As soon as I came to the conclusion that I had Burnout, as typically as it sounds, it was relieving as there was power in knowing what was going on, there was a reason behind how I had been feeling. It was nice to have a name for what I was suffering from and the ability to communicate to others what you were going through is easier when you can just say – I am suffering from Burnout.
I leaned into those feeling of exhaustion and detachment and decide to just take some time to regroup. I stop posting on my blog and instagram and pretending that I was going to go to the run each morning or achieve all the goals I had set for myself. At work I just acknowledged that I wasn’t going to be that productive and made allowances and work around where I could.
I did have other things going on my life that meant I couldn’t suddenly be stress-free or take a nice big holiday to let my mind have some time-off – far from actually. Had best friends wedding to help organise and work that wasn’t letting up but actually more projects being added to my plate.
However, I am of the school of thought (and the reason behind this article) that you have to talk to others about mental health. It is the only way that you and others get better. A few weeks (yes it wasn’t easy at first to openly acknowledge what I was going through) after knowing I had Burnout I went for drinks with a close friend from work who know about a lot of the stressing in life and said the words – I think I am suffering from Burnout. Why, I know she is a really good friend is that she just accepted that, no judgement and actually said I thought something wasn’t right with you. She also gave me some really good advice -to start being kind to myself. To stop putting pressure on myself with a posting schedule, maintaining the level of commitment at work and looking for more regular outlets/hobbies which would just be fun. I did some research and went to a few supper clubs, did a wine course, went to theatre and did a few fitness events.
So you are back to posting and are you still suffering from burnout ?
I came to the conclusion I had Burnout late September and was in a pretty dark place, it has taken some time to see a bit of light and improvement. I definitely not in a truly healthy place (I don’t think I can say that I am not still suffering from Burnout) but I am no longer at my worse and slowly making changes to get to a much healthier, stressless place.
In terms of work, I decide to be open about suffering from Burnout and did tell my boss that I was suffering from Burnout. It came out when he accused me of issues at work being my fault and resulted in a episode of serious case of office politics – I came back to him calmly and made him aware that I as suffering from Burnout. He acknowledged that my productively levels were low for me and that I was due some holiday to ‘get myself sorted’, but following this, there wasn’t any real change from him. I therefore took it into my own hands and forced myself regardless of work madness to actually take my holiday allowance – so no more Mondays for the rest of the year. Can’t tell you how nice a 4 day week is, and just being off work with not be traveling etc.
For the other aspects of my life, I am taking it easy and slowing building up my healthy habits and life and searching for ways to be happier. I am trying to create routines will help reduce my stress such as:
- Reintroducing healthy eating, doing meal prepping and home cooking and getting pleasure out of food not just mindless eating;
- Signed up for a few charity runs to help motivate me trying to get back into habit of going running and to the gym;
- Going out more whether to events such as supper clubs and talks or simply nights out with friends to have that fun downtime;
- Trying to ensure that I practice self-care from sleeping, taking vitamins, to Sunday night facemark; and
- Not putting pressure on myself, just taking it as I can.
So in conclusion, sorry I have been away but it has been for a valid reason, I was burnout and blogging wasn’t a priority. As much as I have a real passion to build my blog and brand, I can’t promise myself or you that I will post regularly, as I need to alway make sure that I look after myself. Nevertheless, I do get great joy out of my blog so you will see more of me, as if suffering from Burnout has taught me nothing is your focus and priority has to be happiness and doing everything you can to ensure you have joy and health in your life at all times.