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Life keeps rolling on, whether you live in a house, on a boat or in an RV. Burnout is possible no matter where you live. Here’s how to deal with burnout.
Too much going on at the same time: a key component of burnout
Stressors can add to the risk of burning out. Here are some examples:
- Job stress: stressful work environment or conflict with coworkers
- Financial stress: unexpected expenses, high debt, low pay
- Interpersonal stress: relationship problems, loneliness, relationships ending or beginning, death of a loved one, the demands of others
- Physical stress: illness, injury, inadequate nutrition, lack of exercise, poor sleep
- Emotional stress: lack of confidence/low self-esteem, worrying the future, depression, general anxiety, feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
- Situational stress: emergencies, not knowing how to deal with issues that arise, highly emotional events like weddings or funerals, sitting in traffic
- Environmental stress: extreme or variable temperatures, loud or constant noises, strong smells, exposure to chemicals, uncomfortable living environment
And the list goes on. The more stressors you have, the more likely you are to approach burnout. The more you have all at once, you quicker you will probably melt down.
What is burnout?
According to a PubMed article, the term “burnout” was originally coined by an American psychologist in the 1970s as a description of the consequences of stress experienced by those in a service industry who sacrifice for others (such as doctors and nurses). These days, its use is more general across many situations, from housewives to actors. However, the exact definition remains unclear, and no criteria to diagnose burnout like there are for depression exist. However, the article lists 3 main signs of burnout:
- Exhaustion and other physical problems, like digestive disruption
- Alienation and increased cynicism, often specifically related to the cause of burnout (like a job)
- Reduced performance at work or everyday activities at home
If burnout hits, you will know it. After almost a month being sick myself, I had a period of a week where I had to take Ryan to the ER while we stayed in a hotel with 3 of our pets to have the RV worked on (and they didn’t even fix what we asked). We got the RV back and then a few days later we spent a 16-hour day (including 4 hours in a car) with Ryan at the hospital getting surgery. If I wasn’t sure I had burnout before that week, I was sure by the end of it.
My symptoms included complete exhaustion and lack of desire to do anything. I started sleeping more and having a harder time getting up every morning. I couldn’t think straight and my job became more and more irritating.
How to avoid burnout
- Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat healthy and give yourself mental rest
- If work is what’s stressing you out, try to take a vacation day or 2 and just relax all day
- Take note of when you feel fatigued and don’t push past it
- Cut out unnecessary tasks from your day
- Don’t over-schedule yourself. Learn to say no
- Slow down your pace for each task
- Do one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking
- Reduce exposure to situations or people that stress you out (see list above for possible stressors)
- If you get sick, give yourself time to get better
If you’re a traveller, then this list also includes reducing the amount of time you’re on the road for each leg of your journey. Instead of driving 400 miles per day, drive 200 miles and then rest for at least a few days. If you’re staying at a campground, see if you can extend your stay or go someplace only a few miles away for your next stop.
How to recover from burnout
Here’s what I’m doing to feel better:
- I reduced my productivity at work. According to my boss, I’m very particular about doing my job efficiently and correctly. I started slowing down. Even so, I still meet productivity goals, and nobody has complained (so far) or even seemed to notice that I’m working less (I didn’t ask permission, I just started doing it). I work for short periods of time and when I feel like my mind is starting to drift, I step away from the computer and do something else.
- No working and eating. When it’s time for a meal, I stop working and enjoy my food.
- If I need a nap, I take it.
- To keep my stress down, I walk the dogs or sprint up and down the driveway at my mom’s place. That also causes laughter, because trying to run with 2 dogs crossing your path or trying to grab you doesn’t work out.
- I binge-watch my favorite TV shows and even downloaded a few mindless games on my phone. Anything to prevent me from trying to be “productive” during all my waking hours.
- Food is medicine. Meals became even simpler and I pack in as much nutrition as I can.
- Stopped setting my alarm. I go to bed when I’m tired and I wake up when I’m ready (usually 9-10 hours later).
- I cut back on time spent on the blog. Posts are now down to one per week instead of 2-4 and will be on more focused subjects.
- I take time to just stare out at nature and listen to the quiet.
- Lots of hugs and kisses from hubby and pets.
- Put non-essential projects on hold.
- Made a doctor’s appointment to have my thyroid medications re-evaluated.
Burnout, anxiety and depression appear closely linked
Some of the symptoms are the same. Something important mentioned in the article is that online quizzes about burnout are probably not worth your time, because a method for diagnosis is not established, and taking quizzes could end up with you missing what’s really going on. I think it’s important to note that you could have burnout, or anxiety, or depression, or all three. Your symptoms could also be related to an underlying medical condition.
In short, self-diagnosis is a bad idea. Take good care of yourself. If you don’t start to feel better after a few days, see a medical professional.