Mindful Living: Burning Out

Image of Bugs Bunny from Looney Toons

I didn’t think I would feel the kind of tired I do now for a long while. In the back of my mind I knew being a teacher is tiring. But when I faced it before, like in college, I just shrugged it off and kept chugging along.

I sleep when I need to, eat as healthy as I can, and even regularly do some semblance of exercise. Yet here I am. . . exhausted and ready to sleep a whole week.

When stuck in the moment I wonder to myself, “How did this happen? I thought everything was alright?” Now, my burnout symptoms have crept up on me like a fiendish specter.

Here are the general steps to reaching a burnout. (Steps I hopefully noticed before it is too late.)

Has this happened to you? If you are not quite sure, here are some signs you might be at your limit. Burnt out. Ready to throw in the towel. . . etc. . . . etc. . . etc.

  1. Exhaustion- feeling you could sleep at least twelve hours and still not catch up.
  2. Isolation- Being sick of people and wanting only to be alone.
  3. Depression- Emotions have overwhelmed you to the breaking point.
  4. Dreading Work or Responsibilities- Even the thought of having to take on any work creates great anxiety.
  5. Irritability- Being easily overcome by anger or annoyance at the smallest things.
  6. Trouble Sleeping- Though the exhaustion has piled up, the brain takes too long to shut down and rest.

I actually think this list could go on for a long while. Each of us suffer differently when overwhelmingly exhausted. For me, I thankfully am able to sleep and function somewhat normally despite how much mental strain I’m under. But I recognize I could be in serious trouble if I’m not careful.

So, what do I do now? What does anyone do in this type of situation? I think it is vitally important to early on draw the line of how much you can take on. It is absolutely possible to be TOO BUSY. ALL THE TIME. Take breaks. Say no when you need to. Your health IS important and it does no one any good to sacrifice yourself needlessly for simple busy work.

Mindfulness and meditation are also key to catching ourselves before our exhaustion has gone too far. The more in tune we are to our emotions daily, the better we become at controlling and truly experiencing them.

For myself, I’ll soon be going on spring break. I’ll get a massage, go to the temple, read a lot, watch some shows, do some research, and go to yoga as much as I can. More than anything I’ll simple sit and do nothing blissfully and sincerely.

If there are any of you experiencing this, I wish you the best of luck! May we all stay healthy and in tune with our limitations.