Have you ever felt like you are running on empty? This may mean that you are functioning in daily life and doing things like going to work, packing lunches, and meeting up with friends. But perhaps, while you are functioning, you aren’t really present. In essence, you might just be going through the motions.
Many of us have been there. Feeling burned out is not fun, and it can take away from any chance at enjoying daily life in a meaningful way. So what causes this state of having nothing left to give energetically? Perhaps it’s time to take a burnout self-test.
“Burnout often results from chronic stressors, or a combination of stressors, with too little time for basic forms of self-care that include sufficient sleep, exercise, time for preparing and eating healthy meals, and contact with loved ones,” explains Pilar Jennings, who has a PhD and is a psychoanalyst with a focus on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation.
The result of someone being exhausted because she lacks the time to care for her most rudimentary of needs is quite saddening. We all deserve and require time to recharge and refuel ourselves in an uplifting way.
“We all need time for recovery, and when there’s too little time, or too much ongoing stress, the mind and body will become symptomatic,” notes Jennings. Some signs that you may have taken a left turn toward Worn Out City are:
- Feeling powerfully depleted
- Feeling depressed
- Experiencing brain fog
- Experiencing a lack of joy
- Having trouble with memory and concentration
- Being physically weak
According to Jennings and Dana Cohen, who is an Integrative Medical Doctor and author of the forthcoming book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration, there are a number of questions we can ask ourselves to asses our energy level. With all of this in mind, there are ways to self assess if you are on your way to being completely burned out or not. Here’s our burnout self-test for you to take.
Take Our Burnout Self-Test Now:
When it comes to an average day, do regular activities have you feeling overstimulated?
- Yes! I am actually too overwhelmed to even think about it
- I feel overwhelmed a lot through out the day, but get through each task.
- I get overwhelmed occasionally, but get through everything and the day flows.
If you need help with a problem, chore, or a challenging situation, do you have someone you can comfortably reach out to for help?
- No, I don’t have anyone I feel comfortable asking for help.
- There are a couple of people I can ask for help, but it’s not always easy.
- I have a solid support network that is consistent and reliable.
When you ask a friend or relative for help with a problem, do you feel truly heard and helped?
- Not really. I ask for help and feel unheard, or the help doesn’t feel genuine.
- It feels as though I’m supported, but not always.
- Yes, my friends and family takes the time to hear me out and help in any way they can.
Do you feel comfortable asking for help or support?
- Not at all. Asking for help is the last thing I feel good about doing.
- When I am totally drowning in my to-do list, I finally reach out for help.
- I love asking for help, because it helps me stay balanced.
When you are tired, hungry, or sad, are you able to meet these basic needs?
- Honestly, I’m too busy to think about how I feel, or if I’m getting enough rest.
- When I get really worn out, I break down and take a day off.
- It’s important for me to check in with my mood through out the day to assess what I need to feel good.
In daily life, are you feeling stressed?
- Is there any other mood besides being stressed?
- Stress is frequent, but it comes and goes throughout the day.
- Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t get me down on a daily basis.
Currently, how would you describe your energy?
- I can’t remember the last time I felt naturally energetic.
- Sometimes I feel energetic, but not too often.
- I tend to feel motivated and energetically stable throughout the day.
Do you exercise?
- Exercise, who has time for that?
- Not really, but when I have extra energy or time I will.
- Doing exercise that I enjoy throughout the week is part of my routine.
How is your memory?
- Honestly, my memory is foggy at best. Even my family has noticed.
- I’m feeling a bit scatter brained right now.
- While not always perfect, generally, my memory hasn’t been an issue at all.
In recent years, have you moved, changed jobs, experienced a death, or anything else that was deeply emotional?
- I went through a tough time recently, but haven’t had time to deal with it.
- I’m working through some difficult times as best as I can.
- Not really, but when I do go through a difficult transition, I seek help from a professional.
Mostly chose answer 1:
You are going through a very difficult time, and it seems that it has led to you feeling completely depleted. It’s essential that you talk with a trusted professional immediately to regain joy and balance in life.
Mostly chose answer 2:
Life is busy, and you seem to be in the crux of it all. You might be treading water, but it doesn’t feel like you are getting very far. While you might not be burnt out quite yet, it might not be that far off. Seek some professional help and begin to rebuild balance in daily life.
Mostly chose answer 3:
Life isn’t always easy, and you realize this. But with that in mind, you have a solid routine, support system, and daily measures in place to keep you feeling good. Things may not always be perfect, and sometimes, you might get tired and overwhelmed, but by no means, is this the norm for you.
If you are close to feeling burned out, how can you prevent it from taking hold? Below are some tips offered by Jennings and Cohen.
What Can Do to Prevent Burnout?
Acknowledge your limits.
First and foremost, before you say yes to anyone or anything, ask yourself if adding this task to your day can be done with a sense of sanity, lightness, and happiness? Can you take this addition on and still maintain the activities you love and sleep you need to feel great?
“If not, it’s probably better to respectfully decline until your circumstances change,” says Jennings. This will help protect you from unnecessary situations where you feel too squeezed for time and energy.
Practice Transcendental Meditation.
“It is the most widely studied and published form of meditation proven to decrease stress and has many other health benefits like lowering blood pressure,” explains Cohen.
Breathe deeply with an App.
Breathing is key, and apps can help you with this. Heartmath is a form of biofeedback that improves heartrate variability, which has significant health benefits,” says Cohen. It utilizes a device that you put on your ear while you breath along to an app for a few minutes through out the day.
Ask for help.
If your to-do list is never ending and you feel like you are drowning in daily life, it is important to reach out and ask for support. Receiving a helping hand can keep you more balanced while loosening up your schedule, so that you can get some much needed down time.
Examine your childhood.
Our experiences throughout childhood can play a large role in whether we are comfortable with asking for help or not. Some questions to consider are:
When you were a child, did help come with a genuine wish to support you? Or did you experience judgement or criticism in times of need? Along these lines, it’s worth looking at whether one’s family tolerated limits. “Was it acceptable to get tired, or hungry, or cranky, or was there a tacit message that people should buck up and “deal with it?” asks Jennings.If you were taught that your needs didn’t matter, then you may be repeating this pattern as an adult, which can lead to being over-tired, and yes, burned out.
At the end of the day, this is your life, and feeling good shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a priority. And remember, help is never that far off. If you are experiencing ongoing stress and exhaustion, it’s best to immediately reach out to a professional for guidance and support.
Feature photo: Becca Tarpert