It happens to the best of us. One day, we feel on top of the world. We’re getting things done, crossing items off our lists and always available for that friend or family member who needs a chat. But then it happens. We slowly start to miss appointments, cancel our plans and make excuses for why we can’t juggle everything.
Sure, maybe you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, and life will go back to normal in the near future. But maybe, just maybe, you’re actually on the verge of a major burnout. You know, one of those epic meltdowns that causes torrential tears and uncalled-for telling off of very well-intentioned people.
While getting a massage or going on vacation seems like the immediate answer, it’s only a short-term solution that isn’t always feasible. Luckily, there are some very real signs (and effective coping strategies) if you think this may be you. Here are some of those signs.
1. Extreme Exhaustion
There’s being tired, and then there’s being tired all of the time. You hit your snooze button several times before finally dragging your butt out of bed, and it has become commonplace to have a quick nap after work. You have no desire to make plans because let’s be honest — all you want to do is veg out. Exhaustion is a clear sign your schedule is a little too packed, and that you probably aren’t getting enough sleep.
Remedy: Schedule in a half hour of “me time” every day. You can’t be expected to give everything you’ve got to everyone else; you need to save some of your awesomeness for yourself. On top of that, be sure to clock at least seven hours of sleep a night.
2. Negative Nelly-ness
You swear, you used to be a positive person. But now every little thing seems to set you off. Your puppy whining to get up on your lap. Your co-worker’s texting habit. Life in general. If you feel like everything has a downside lately, maybe you need to step back.
Remedy: Keep a gratitude journal. We know, it sounds cheesy, but writing down one thing that you’re thankful for every single day is an Oprah-certified method of finding your way back to positivity. If you want to be held accountable, perhaps share your positive thoughts in a public forum like Facebook. Or, if privacy is your jam, buy a pretty journal and keep it by your bed so that you can write morning or night.
3. Poor Life Choices
How many times this week have you cracked open a bottle of wine, turned to your pack of cigarettes or stress-eaten a pizza? If these or any other poor health choices seem to be the norm as of late, you should stop, immediately. Eating your feelings once in a while is fine, but it’s completely unhealthy when that habit translates into bigger pants.
Remedy: Write down a list of your vices, and then figure out a healthy substitution for each one. Do you need a beer after work? Try fizzy water or herbal tea instead. Really craving that pizza? Make it at home on a pita, pile on the veggies and go light on the cheese. And if you do smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting strategies. After all, there’s no time like the present.
4. A Lack of Motivation
Oh, how the world used to be your oyster. You’d go out with friends, try new classes and be on top of new trends. Or at least be interested in hearing about them. Now if you’re not running around like a mad person you can probably be found lounging out on your couch or in bed, binge-watching another show. Or worse — re-watching Friends for the 17th time. Don’t get us wrong, we love our TV-watching time, but when that’s all you want to do, that’s a definite sign you could be burning out.
Remedy: Limit yourself to a set amount of TV-watching per day, and stick to it. Then, pick up an inspiring book. There is no limit to the number of biographies and inspirational stories out there. Reading about people who inspire you is actually a fairly contagious thing.
5. Interpersonal Problems
So, you had another fight with your spouse, did you? Was it about something ridiculous and not worth it? Is your best friend mad at you for ditching them again? Personal relationships are a very important, healthy part of everyday living. Unfortunately, when we become overwhelmed they’re also one of the first things we let slide.
Remedy: Make sure you schedule in some non-work related hangout time with those who are important in your life. Whether it’s a 15-minute catch-up call once a week or a weekend getaway with your spouse where there’s no work involved, having that one-on-one time can do wonders for your friendship and, in turn, your soul.
6. Not Being Able to Shut Off
You come home, check your email and suddenly that assignment you’re working on just can’t wait until the next day. By the time you go to bed you’re so wound-up thinking about work, that your to-do list begins to play over and over again in your head. Before you know it, you haven’t slept and you’re back at work, unrested as ever.
Remedy: At the end of every day, create a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish the next day and then leave it on your desk. Then, make a rule that you don’t check email once you’re home. If you’re worried that someone may be trying to get a hold of you for an “emergency,” then set up an out-of-office for the night. That way, people know how to get a hold of you if the situation can’t wait, and you don’t feel guilty for not responding right away. Technology win.
7. Health Problems
Many — not all, but many — health problems are stress-related. There, we said it. You may be the type of person that strives on tight deadlines and proving how much you can do in a limited amount of time, but that doesn’t mean your body is equipped to deal with those stressors on a regular basis. Before long, you’re coming into work sick (because who has time for sick days?), or worse.
Remedy: Meditation isn’t for everyone, but doing some form of physical exercise beats the stress out of you more than anything else we can think of. Try running, yoga, an exercise class or something that involves getting those kinks out on a regular basis — we’re talking three-to-four times per week. And if you truly can’t fit in an hour cardio class, at least take a brisk 20-minute walk during lunch and after work. It will clear your mind and make you feel like you accomplished something good for you.