So, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about “burnout”.  I read an article the other day that described burnout this way:

Burnout is a feeling of total exhaustion. It’s evaporates any motivation you may have inside. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working from home or as the creative director of a big agency. To put it simply, burnout sucks the life out of you!

The author of the article has a set of steps that they follow in order to avoid this infamous burnout:

  1. Take breaks
  2. Be social
  3. Don’t be a jerk (to yourself)
  4. Learn to say “no”
  5. Be mindful of your health

I’m not excessively thrilled with item #2 – Be Social – as I think the person talking is an extrovert in nature and introverts find being social to be stressful.  I think what they are trying to say is “energize” and whether or not this is done by going out with family and friends or by staying in are reading a good book, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you feel energized after the experience.

Burnout in our industry is a very real situation.  My first experience was with someone I went to school with back in the early ‘80s.  She got a good job in New York, but it was a stressful job.  Very stressful.  She came back after her two year commitment and basically left the workforce for a while as she just couldn’t cope with the pressure.

I have experienced periods in my career where the life has been sucked out of me and I am just a shell of who I needed to be.  I recovered by learning to adapt, to recharge that energy.  But even though I know it is happening, it still occurs today.  (Or to be more precise, last month.)  You start the week strong and invigorated but by the time Friday rolls around you can barely think and sometimes walking and talking is just too much.

What’s important to understand is that everyone goes through this, whether or not they realize it.  Everyone is susceptible to that burnout feeling and everyone deals with it differently.  What’s important to understand is that there is lots of help available, more now than thirty years ago, because it is much more common.  Our lives are stressful.  Our work is stressful.  Society is becoming more stressful.  Being always connected via a smart device is stressful.  All of theses stresses, and others, when combined can reach the tipping point at which burnout is the inevitable conclusion.

If you are feeling stressed talk to someone.  If you are really stressed then I recommend talking to a professional, someone who understands the tools and techniques that can be used to combat the stress.  Just remember one thing:  this happens to everyone.

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