Highly Sensitive People are wired for burnout.We’re overachieving, perfectionistic, passionate people who care deeply and often push past our energy limits.
But the simple act of increasing awareness around our destructive patterns helps to release us from their grip. Let’s talk about burnout for a minute. For starters, it’s disturbingly common. In a recent poll published in Forbes magazine, of 10,000 people studied–70% were suffering from, or had recently suffered from, burnout. And as a society we haven’t even begun to recover from the collective stress of the pandemic, which created impossible circumstances for so many.
Burnout is technically defined as a serious syndrome of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed–often because our workplace hasn’t granted us the tools, space, or resources to manage it. The extraordinary events surrounding my book, Stark Raving Zen, emerged from the psychological ashes of a massive professional burnout after twenty years spent in veterinary medicine.
But burnout isn’t always professional. It can be triggered by facets of our personal life such as navigating difficult relationships, chronic repression of creative expression, fearing our financial security, or being driven to exhaustion by our own inner drive for perfectionism.
Burnout is characterized by three dimensions:
* Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
* Increased mental distance from one’s job, or painful feelings of hopelessness or cynicism related to one’s work or role in the world.
* Greatly reduced professional or personal efficacy or efficiency.
Some classic symptoms of energy burnout are:
1.) Withdrawing from friends and responsibilities.
2.) Isolating and never leaving your home.
3.) Procrastination, decision fatigue, unable to commit.
4.) Using escapism or distraction techniques–Too much Netflix, food, alcohol, etc.
5.) Volatility, wild emotional swings, inability to handle small stressors. Chronic anger and irritability.
6.) Skipping work, calling in sick frequently, decreased immunity.
If you’re experiencing any ONE of the above…
Implement the following protocol. Just because we’re wired for burnout doesn’t mean we can’t mitigate the damages.
1.) Look for Purpose. Find your Why. Your dharma, your reason for being, is the keystone to your resilience.
2.) Take control of what you can.There are often areas of frustration where we do have some agency in shifting our priorities.
3.) Prioritize your health. Focus on walking, eating what feels right for your energy, schedule time for meditation, stretching, yoga, hiking…whatever feels like what your body needs–do that.
4.) Set boundaries. Are you giving too much? Doing too much? Saying “Yes” too often?
5.) Take breaks. Unapologetically. And often.
6.) Practice self care. Take the long baths, gift yourself acupuncture or massage, “waste” as much time as you need to take care of yourself–which is no waste of time at all. In fact, your life depends on it.
7.) Seek support. Therapy, Transformational Coaching, Spiritual Counseling–try it all until you find a system that works for you. Deepen into your spiritual practice.
8.) Mitigate expectations. Let those around you, friends and family, know that you’re struggling, and tell them your limits–which may be greater than they like. But that’s okay. Your only responsibility right now is to guard your energy like a dragon sitting on a pile of gold.
Being wired for burnout isn’t about weakness.
If you have any questions about what you’re feeling or experiencing right now, or if you fear you’re on the precipice of burnout. Everyone experiences burnout. Highly Sensitive People are also some of the most proactive in creating wellness for themselves.
You’re not alone, my friend.