The Many Misconceptions of Burnout
Ahh, burnout… You glorious little devil, you
Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared burnout is now a syndrome (a step up from a type of exhaustion), it has been popping up everywhere. On all the different social media sites, mainstream media and of course, companies.
As it should, it is a serious syndrome. It’s not something to be taken lightly. However, it has brought up a lot of bad content and a lot of misconceptions.
For instance, “I burnt out this morning. It was awful, so I took the morning off and now I’m right back at it”.
Okay, Karen. That’s not exactly how burnout works.
I’ve seen dangerous posts, with people posting about how they combatted burnout by going for a run so they could work throughout the night.
I get it. I remember the days that I would trick myself into feeling good by waking up at 4 am, smashing my side hustle, a gym workout before I went to my 9–5. However, nowhere in there should that a message on how to overcome burnout.
I’m trying to figure out if burnout is going to be the next “badge of honour”.
Or more concerning is it going to be the next fad?
Here’s the thing, people do burn out. It’s a horrible experience for those people.
Companies need to look at their infrastructure to ensure they’re doing everything in their power to prevent it.
However, we need to make sure we are getting the facts straight about burnout.
So here we are.
Let me share with you some of the misconceptions I’ve recently seen or heard.
1) “I woke up burnt out, took the day off and now I feel great"
Let me get straight to the point, that’s not burning out.
Burnout isn’t a moment in the day.
It is a chronic condition that takes time to overcome.
Taking a day off can help at that moment. It won’t, however, fix your burnout.
Fatigue and exhaustion is a symptom of burnout. If you’re frequently waking up tired or exhausted, it’s time to take note of that. You might very well be on the road to burnout, but not quite at your destination.
2) Burnout is from hating your job
Of course, doing something you hate, day in and day out would be exhausting. It could absolutely cause you to burnout.
However, it’s not the only reason.
For some people, they love what they do. They’re in a situation where they love their work, the pressure and essentially the stress. They trick themselves into thinking they thrive in those situations.
And here’s the crazy thing, they usually do. However, at what cost? There is only a certain amount of time you can live in those moments.
For a lot of the people I work with, it’s more getting them to recognise their limits.
It’s as if their bodies give up before their minds.
3) When you burnout, it’s a sign you need to rest.
Well no sh*t sherlock.
Burnout is exhaustion from prolonged stress that impacts your mind, emotions and physical health.
Resting becomes your only option.
However, that’s not the only thing you need.
You also need to take time to consider how you got in that place in the first time.
What led you to burnout?
What do you need to do differently in the first place?
What were the warning signs?
Changing your behaviours is also essential to overcoming and preventing burnout in the future.
4) Burnout is from overworking.
That’s a simplified view of it.
However, people from all walks of life can burnout. University students (this is going to become a huge issue), mums, carers and athletes.
Burnout comes from prolonged stress that causes emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.
Burnout isn’t an excuse to have some time off work. If you need some time off, then do it. However, don’t take advantage of it. Use that time productively. Look for ways to prevent falling into the burnout trap.
Burning out won’t be resolved by having a doona day or an afternoon off. No, burnout needs more thought and care put into it. More importantly, burnout won’t be resolved by hitting the gym or going for a run. If you’re on the road to burning out, it will help get you there faster.
You’re putting your body under more stress that it doesn’t need.
If you’re tired from overworking then start looking at what you can do to stop.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to burning out. It takes time, self-reflection and a desire to change.
First Published June 2020 www.katiemaycock.com