Much like a lamp without oil, a human without proper work-life balance can’t drive away the darkness. But like a diya you can always replenish your fuel and shine brighter.
But what is this “darkness”?
Before we can apply a soothing balm on our burns, we need to know how to identify the epicenter of the pain. Burnout is when you feel like you start hating your job that you previously liked and enjoyed, or even loved. It is characterized by
- Exhaustion: This is not your average exhaustion. It follows you everywhere. You’re tired from the very thought of going to work. The piling mound of work makes you groan with pain. It seems to seep right into your bone marrow and suck the life right out of you. Getting up in the morning gets difficult. Going to bed elicits feelings of dread about going to work the next morning. WHY ANOTHER DAY! WHY!
- Feeling like you’re mentally disconnecting from your work: You are merely going through the motions. You don’t derive the same satisfaction from your work as you did before. You feel chafed no matter how much moisturizer you use. You’re just there during meetings waiting to get out. You feel yourself just floating away.
- Reduced efficiency: You can’t work as well as you did before. The quality of your work drops even though you’re trying your best. Putting in more effort evokes feelings of overwhelming sadness and helplessness.
That is a burnout. It is silent and difficult to detect until you’re right in the middle of one. It gets to the best of us. It doesn’t point to a deficiency in skill. An empty car can’t move no matter how hard you press the accelerator.
What causes burnout?
Overworking and work-life imbalance are some of the major causes of burnout. Anything in excess is harmful. No matter how much we love our favorite dish, there’s only so much we can eat in one sitting before nausea sets in. It may be 100 momos, but eventually even the sight of a mo makes you gag. So is the case of work. No matter how much you love it, there is a point beyond which working harder starts slowing us down. Some other reasons for burnout are lack of control in a job, unclear work expectations or boundaries, toxic workplace environment, lack of social support and a misalignment between your values and the job.
So how to deal with it?
Burnouts are becoming rampant in the corporate work culture. People work late nights and weekends. Learning how to deal with burnout is therefore an essential skill to survive in the urban jungle and live a life you want, not one that you have to. The following can be used in your battle against burnout
- Identifying the reasons for your burnout: We listed a bunch of reasons that cause burnout. But what are YOURS? The circumstances in your life are unique to you and knowing what is causing you to burn out can go a long way in successfully safeguarding yourself.
- Getting proper sleep: Sometimes working late nights can lead to a disturbed sleep schedule which eventually devolves into a vicious cycle. Sleeping your requisite amount of hours is imperative to deal with burnout.
- Exercise: You’re already exhausted. How will you get the extra energy from? We hear you! But exercise doesn’t have to be going to a conventional gym. It can be whatever you find thrilling and exciting! Go for a run, join martial arts, beat the living soul out of a punching bag! Do what brings you joy and get active!
- Restoring the work-life balance: It is definitely easier said than done. It is a slow and grueling process but it is so important to maintain balance in your life. Once you get the hang of it, it is magic! Experiment and find your balance! It could look like taking 5 minutes every hour to just get up and walk around or going on treks every weekend. Not everything works for everyone and that’s okay! In fact it doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly 50-50. The ratio can change in different periods of our life as well as among different people.
- Mindfulness: Meditation can help center and focus your energy. It can strengthen your mind-body connection and bring you greater clarity about what you want and what you seek. Meditating is awesome! It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs the right intention behind it- the intention of being still, of recognizing that we are part of a cosmic universe! Mindfulness needn’t be a conventional padmasana below a bodhi tree. We can perform daily chores mindfully too! As long as the intent is there!
- Seek support: Seeking help from your family and friends can also help you deal with burnout. Nothing like a supportive rant about your bitchy boss bossily bitching all day long! How annoying! You can also seek out professional support like therapy if you feel the need for it.
Burnout affects us all at some point in our life. Knowing this monster is important. It gives us the necessary insight to fight for equanimity and tranquility in our lives. We all deserve peace and quiet. Working doesn’t have to mean that we stop enjoying life. All we have is now. And now.