My Burnout Experience And What I Did To Overcome It

“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. False optimism is like administrating stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.” 
 ― Sam Keen

The word ‘burnout’ was introduced in the 1970s by the American psychologist — ‘Herbert Freudenberger.’ It is a state of being in complete exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress. In most of the cases, it is a mental phase that is hard to get through but not impossible.

These days burnouts are a ‘Mental Health Issue’ which are seen at the workplace. There could be many symptoms for a burnout like:

  • Finding it hard to focus on one task
  • Dragging yourself to work.
  • Being impatient with people around the work
  • Change in the sleep timings
  • Being in complete stress to do a simple task.

There could be many more symptoms of being in ‘Burnout.’ But in simple words, if you are in stress all the time in regards to your work. Then it a sign that you’re experiencing a ‘Burnout.’

They’re said to be five stages for a Burnout. Most employees who are not satisfied with their 9–5 jobs and are not getting enough credit for their work are more likely to be going through a ‘Burnout.’

In this article, I want to share my Burnout experience and what I did to overcome it.

Reasons For My Burnout

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10 months ago, I was working for an agency as a full-time employee. It was a primary 9–5 job but I spent 10–12 Hrs in my office. In the beginning, I spent more time at the office to be outside and find myself a reason to not to go to my room.

Because once I reach my room in the evening. I would be sitting idle and scrolling through my social media feed for hours. So instead of wasting my time being lazy and unproductive in my room. I started to spend more hours in my office to interact with people, work, and learn new stuff.

A few weeks down the line, I used to skip my work in the morning even though I was sitting in front of my computer all the time and had a bunch of shit to be done. So my work piled up and I was left behind with a bunch of tasks.

After some struggle, I did catch up on my work pace and completed my pending tasks. But all of a sudden I was working so hard and was under pressure for no reason. Even though I had a lot of time to do my work and I was always ahead of my deadlines. I was literally finding it tough to work every day and this leads to a lot of stress for me to handle.

I was in such stress could be due to these things:

Looking For Perfection

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Yes, I thought being perfect and getting appreciated for my work is all I wanted to get success. This made me spend more time on smaller tasks, and I was spending hours and hours of my time to be ‘perfect’ at everything. Presenting my work as a perfectionist to my boss was my goal. I never really understood why I wanted to be so perfect?

I was not even hoping for any appraisal (or) promotion for my efforts. It’s was like a bee stung me in the head and there I was working like a psychopath.

Dealing With a Shit Ton of Workload

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At any place you work. There will be times when you are assigned to do a lot of work within short deadlines. For me at my office. Once a month, we were bombarded with a ton of work. This workload took a toll on me both physically and mentally.

I would even have to work on Sundays and after my office hours to complete it on time.

Being Negative and Finding Negativity

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Negativity started to enter in my life. There are many things in my life which I wouldn’t like to do more often. Like drinking alcohol was one of them.

Since I graduated from college and started to work, I never really had much interest in drinking. Occasionally I would drink on the weekends with my colleagues.

But as I was in such work stress and I wanted to relive it somehow. I started to drink a lot and it would make me forget about anything. I would spend more than five days a week on drinking alcohol.

For over two months, all I did throughout my day was

  • Waking at 10:00 am and being late to the office
  • Would spend those extra hours in the office to get the work done
  • Going late to my room and start drinking with my mates until late at night
  • Later, Waking up late for the office the next day and repeating the same cycle.

On weekends and holidays, I used to wake up in the afternoon. Either I would plan for something to drink on that evening (or) I would complete the office work that I have to show on Monday.

Nothing was happening in my life and I had no clue what I was doing other than work and partying. I never cared about going on any trips, spending quality time with myself, and talking to my family. All this stuff was left behind.

How Did I Get Rid Of My Burnout?

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One day I had it enough. I knew nothing was happening and I can ruin my life by following the same routine for 365 days.

I wanted to get out of that pressure and stress which was in my head. I thought it would be wise to change my lifestyle by implementing one change at a time. I started with that one thing that made more sense.

I Took A Short Break

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Yes, a break is what everybody needs, right?

I was so desperate to take a break and to go on a trip. I applied for one week of leave in my office. At first, they rejected it, and then I was like I would either take a leave (or) resign from the work. It seems easy to do it but trust me it’s not when you have no savings left.

Fortunately, I got a one-week leave. So my friends and I took a long trip to a beachside area. We booked an apartment for ourselves at the beachside. I promised myself to never check my phone for any office mails (or) even open my laptop for any work for those seven days.

For the first two days, we partied all day and went to the beach in the evenings to feel that beach vibes. After two days into my vacation, I made myself a couple of promises:

  1. That I wouldn’t drink any more from that day
  2. I would change my routine and my lifestyle

Getting That Adequate Sleep

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So, as I promised to make some changes in my daily routine. The No.1 priority to me was my sleep. I made myself clear that I am going to get at least 7 Hours of sleep. Once I had come back from the trip and I followed this part very strictly. I would keep my phone aside before going to my bed which did help me sleep faster.

Since I stopped drinking, I wasn’t spending any time on drinking in the evenings. Instead, I would hit the bed couple of hours early to my sleeping time and wake up early in the morning. So that I could get enough sleep as I planned and go to my office within the time

Meditation Was The Key

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Since I was waking early, I prepared a morning routine to follow. In that routine, the most significant part was my mediation. I would go to the park where I had started jogging and sit there to meditate. I would meditate for at least 20 mins and let my mind go free of any thoughts.

My morning routine was 1 hour long. Including mediation in my routine did wonders in my daily life. I started to react differently to small things like rushing towards my office, gulping my lunch quickly, and doing tasks at the last moment. All the hassle-puzzle was happening less.

Getting Some Action — Sports

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Now, I look back at those days. Where I wasn’t living my life. I feel how our office spaces are designed and the work we do by sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours. This makes us lazy and our mind is trapped in that cubical world with no real interaction and no physical activities.

I think this is the reason why most of us are going numb at our workplaces.

So to keep this all out of my radar. I opted to leave my office quickly in the evening. My colleagues and I used to either play cricket (or) football in the evenings and even in the weekends.

Since I do like playing both football and cricket, I enjoyed it. We are were connected to it, and we used to play for at least 2–3 times a week. We would spend 1–2 hours whenever we hit the playground. Doing such physical activities resulted in me thinking less about the work and taking my stress off.

Listening To Music

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Now, most of the above things I mentioned are done outside of my workspace. But ‘listening to the music’ is something that I started to do more often when I was working for a big project with shorter deadlines to meet. Maybe it’s not just music — it was the vibe that I had around my work desk that let me focus on what I did.

Before going to plug my headphones in the office to work. I would make sure that:

  1. I would write/note down the tasks which are needed to be done and the time that each task should take me to do
  2. Make sure that nobody interrupts me.
  3. I would turn off my phone notifications and block some apps
  4. I would also block some sites on my computer. So that I won’t get distracted in the middle
  5. I would only listen to a specific type of music. Like music for mediation and relaxation (With no vocals included)

I Stopped Being — A Time Disciplined Guy

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One thing that most of us can avoid doing is being time disciplined towards each and every task in your day. In the end, we all are humans. We can’t do everything effectively. It is essential to understand that there will be only a few crucial tasks in a day to be done.

Every day my boss wanted me to do 2–3 tasks at most. The other tasks are not that important and can wait if you can’t do it in a single day. It’s not as if every little work needs to be done today.

So I stopped being time discipline towards such tasks that can be addressed (or) can wait for another day to be completed. I wouldn’t pressure myself doing such tasks that didn’t need my everyday attention. Even though I do include each minor task in my work schedule.

But unfortunately, you can’t do everything on time. So I would stop caring about spending time for less prioritized tasks and used to work at my very own pace.

My Conclusion

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Right now I look back at those times of my life, and I am happy that I figured a way to maintain my work-life balance. Now, I don’t have a job anymore due to the pandemic strike. But besides that I am into freelancing and so far I am not ‘Burnout’ by the hustle culture on the internet.

I want to end this article with two more tips that I wanna share. I think it will impact if you’re going through a ‘Burnout’ just like me

Try To Be Relax and Chill Out A Bit

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Yup! Stop taking every shit seriously.

Live life and keep your work emotions in one place. Take everything one at a time. Realize that you have a life outside your office cubical. Taking everything seriously won’t make a much difference.

If something that cannot be changed even when you give your 110% of your efforts. Then there is no point in worrying about it all the time and escaping from your peaceful moments in life.

Don’t Hope Instead Ask For The Help

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One thing I desperately wanted to do. But I couldn’t do it, just because I didn’t want to trouble anybody with what I was going through.

But asking someone for help isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t make you a coward. Share your feelings and experiences with someone that you trust and love a lot. Spend quality time with them, get encouraged from them, and take that load off your chest by sharing your problems. It is the best way to face such phases as ‘Burnout.’

Originally Published on Medium: