You’re a giver. You know that more often than not, you will put the needs of others ahead of your needs. You see yourself as a helper, someone who helps others to have a better quality of life. You’ve been maintaining a frantic pace and you are doing your part to make the world a better place. If anyone needs, anything, they know who to call on in their time of need: You. You answer the call and save the day once again, and there is a degree of satisfaction from helping others, but what about you?
You’d like to think you have an endless reserve of energy to call upon at any time to meet the needs of others. You keep pushing forward, you’re helping everyone you can, and they don’t even know difficult it is for you to follow through and “be there” for everyone else.
You might not even giving much thought to changes happening inside your body because your energy has been running low and your body begins to cannibalize itself to provide you with the energy you need to continue to help the people who have come to depend upon you.
You may (or may not) have noticed certain changes, such as difficulties associated with your digestive system, you might be experiencing headaches more often than in the past, you might be grinding your teeth or seeing a rise in blood pressure.
It’s as if your life force is draining from your body, you’re noticing that you’re feeling a lack of energy and feeling overwhelmed with fatigue. You’re not feeling well about yourself, feeling hopeless, powerless and/or resentful.
The satisfaction you once felt in helping others no longer satisfies and you’re starting to feel as though you are merely existing as you continue to help others even though you’re wondering if you’re just going through the motions. You’re not getting out as much as you used to, you’re beginning to withdraw from others, and life, in general. This whole life which used to be so meaningful for you, feels more like a prison these days.
As you continue to run out of fuel, you are becoming more susceptible to heart problems, heart attack and stroke.
Your inner force needs tending to, if ignored long enough, your energy dwindles and there may not be enough juice left to sustain your basic function. Your flame, you, your body, mind and spirit are literally burning out. I suppose that’s why we refer to this state as, “burnout.”
Stress is a key contributor to burnout. When all our systems (body, mind, soul) are operating at peak performance, we are invincible. Stress has little effect on us as we cast it aside. But if you’re constantly giving more than you receive, or do not take care to re-charge your systems, you develop a deficit. And if neglected long enough, you will suffer the results of burnout.
Stress left to itself can take its toll on you, though there are some of us who can withstand a great deal of stress over time and not be affected much. But these very same heroic individuals are susceptible to burnout, and if or when they do, they are ill-equipped to recoil or respond appropriately. They fall victim to emotional fatigue, which promotes negativity, and they begin to spiral down in the shadow of burnout’s decay.
As your system deteriorates, you will notice areas of your life that were easily and naturally manageable becoming more and more problematic, affecting your professional life as well as affecting areas of your personal life as well, including interpersonal relationships. You might start feeling as though you don’t have anything in common with anyone and begin to withdraw from social interactions and intimate relationships as well.
If you are potentially amidst this sinking whirlpool dragging you down, you’re probably not as mindful about what you eat, nutrition, or exercise. And it’s likely, you’re not getting enough rest.
So what can you do?
Do what you can. Definitely, if you see signs of burnout in yourself (or someone else) take a quick inventory and fix what can easily be addressed. Seek to eat better and integrate more healthy foods in your diet. Start finding ways to incorporate physical fitness, walk, jog, go to the gym, do something. And start going to bed earlier and get some good sleep. This will start to rebuild your energy reserves.
Take it upon yourself to start finding ways to relax and deal with anxieties and situational stress.
Let’s face it, without the basic elemental fuel, your body will wear down and so will the rest of you. You have to take the responsibility for ensuring you, your body, spirit, and soul are tended to. Don’t let your physiological, intellectual, social and spiritual parts of you wither and die.
This is a good time for a checkup with your doctor for a complete physical battery.
It might also be apropos to consider taking a time out for a brief sabbatical to ready yourself for your triumphant return and resuming your powerful heroic performance.