Hello, It’s Me – BURNOUT


 When I was a full-time student at the University, I started working three (yes, 3) jobs. I was working at a graduate financial aid office answering questions related to postgraduate loans and grants; I was a front desk associate at a prominent hotel in the San Francisco Bay area and I was booking hotel reservations over the phone in the back office of the same hotel. Each day of the week, without fail, I juggled two of these roles.

At first glance and on the surface, I was a hard worker deeply determined not to take on student debt (I took as little as possible) and grateful that I, as a foreigner, was given a grant/scholarship to cover my tuition at the prestigious university. To be quite honest, there was a part of me that enjoyed being busy (I was an over-scheduled child who was praised for being able to accomplish multiple things at the same time), but as I looked deeper into this pattern of overdoing – something entirely new surfaced – inability to ask for help, insecurity around money, a strong belief that I have to do everything myself.

This revelation, however, took its sweet time. After graduating from university, I took jobs that tested my mental and physical abilities (working abnormally long hours in investment banking, for example), said yes to way too many obligations both professionally and personally, and continually valued productivity over travel, fun, and rest. This workaholism and overworking was very much praised in the Western corporate culture, fueling my patterns. After all, I liked being busy as a bee and as cool as a cucumber.

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but burnout happened.

I am certain that you have heard of the term but just so we are on the same page, burnout is mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward oneself or others. In other words, a simply stated burnout happens when there’s more output than input for an extended period of time. If you keep going, you will eventually find yourself slowly but consistently moving toward burnout.

Perhaps you have experienced this before, or you are burned out right now. Maybe, just maybe, you feel that something is off and that you are inching your way closer.

In my case, I waited until I was burned out to address it and do something about it. From years of experience, I can attest that most people tend to do the same even though now, there is an abundance of information and extensive research done on this topic, especially since COVID-19. It is not just corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals who experience burnout; it is especially noted among caregivers, health workers, nurses, health practitioners, and even therapists.

What has helped me tremendously in preventing future burnouts (and has helped my family, friends, and clients as well) is early detection– noticing the early signs of exhaustion and taking action right away. If you are not sure how to do this, grab a pen and paper and allow yourself to finish the following sentences. Don’t overthink or analyze, just write.

  • I am burned out when …….
  • In my body, I feel……
  • I got into this state because……
  • Asking for help for me is …..
  • Taking a break or slowing down for me is…
  • My own unsupportive belief is ….
  • What would need to change so I am not burned out …..

Did you notice anything you wrote down worth exploring more?

The following are some practical ways that can help you prevent burnout:

  • Incorporate intentional breaks into your schedule which include non-screen time.
  • Spend time outside and in nature.
  • Jot down things that make you feel energized and positively add to your life and make it a priority to do a minimum of those a day.
  • Consider incorporating mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, and meditation practices.
  • Intentionally put something on your calendar (weekend fun activity, or vacation) that you can look forward to
  • Prioritize social connections, sleep, relaxation, and nutrition.

Have you experienced a burnout before? Would you like to share your thoughts or what has helped you since then?


Author: Ana Radisic, Psychologist in private practice