Burnout is definitely a thing. I was off work for about a month in 2013 for burnout and I was only 23 years old. Granted, there was quite a bit going on that led to the problem but first, what is burnout?
According to Dr. Shimi Kang, a psychiatrist from Vancouver, burnout is when a patient suffers from chronic stress. Symptoms include: signs of physical or emotional exhaustion (i.e. chronic fatigue, insomnia, constantly falling ill, weight gain, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, anger issues, pessimism, cynicism and detachment) and a drop in productivity (i.e. forgetfulness and issues with concentration and focus) (Alini).
I was working ridiculous hours with rotating shifts while on availability and had just started a full-time evening position at work. I was also working on an online event planning certification. I was at my heaviest weight to date because my schedule didn’t allow for much time to cook and prep food at home. I had recently moved out on my own, for the first time, after my relationship with my then fiance fell apart. I was being harassed incessantly by a former manager and a close friend had a pretty major accident. It was too much; I needed a break.
For a month, I was off work. I used the time to recover and work on strategies to prevent it from happening again. Clearly, changes needed to be made.
Since then, I’ve made every effort to make my well-being a priority. If it meant working less or taking a break from school, I did it. I started exercising more, eating better and trying to regulate my sleep. I lost 40lbs and went from a size 13 to a 6. I started reaching out to family and friends more, taking my breaks at work, restarting old hobbies and whatever else I, or my doctor, thought could help. I started taking better care of myself again and I’ve never let my stress levels reach that height again, nor do I intend to let them.
Take care of yourself. You cannot help yourself or others if you’re running on empty. You deserve health and happiness just as much as anyone else.
Have you suffered from burnout? What steps did you take to get well?
Let me know in the comments.
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I suffered a burnout this spring. Like you, I had a lot personal issues going on while ramping up to the busiest season at work. It felt like everything came crashing down at once.
I took a week off, and with no family doctor I realised the stigma that is around mental health. I already felt self-judgement for being 27 and going through a burnout, to then have the professionals that were supposed to help me contribute to that judgement. It was awful.
The balance is still something i struggle with but every day I try to remind myself that I’m not any less committed or responsible if I need to take a minute for myself. To regroup. To recharge. I’ve started reframing it, I see it now as taking care of myself so I can give 100% of myself to my job, my family and friends and any other commitments.
Thank you for writing this. It’s helped to show me that burnout can happen at any age, there really isn’t a timeline.
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s not an easy thing to do.
I can definitely understand that navigating the healthcare system can be challenging and not all healthcare professionals are equipped to deal with issues related to mental health. Something that will hopefully improve with more awareness.
I’m happy to hear that you found this helpful and know that you are not alone in this. Juggling so many hats makes setting boundaries hard but it’s absolutely necessary for wellbeing. What helped me most in the beginning was scheduling in me time like any other commitment and sticking to it. It became easier with time.
Take care of yourself. You deserve health and happiness too.