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Preventing Burnout

Burnout is typically referred to in the professional realm, but we can experience burnout in our personal hobbies and activities as well. I’ve personally experienced burnout at work, with school, in friendships that were hard to maintain, and even with pole! We’re going to cover burnout start to finish in this blog, so you can experience healthy goal setting and the satisfaction of meeting those goals!

There are lots of ways to tell if you’re headed toward burnout: lack of motivation, feelings of dread or despair when tasked with a specific activity, annoyance with things you usually enjoy, feeling unsatisfied with completing goals, mental and physical fatigue, and simply feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, we have a list just as long of ways to combat and prevent burnout – let’s dive in!

Firstly, we should probably define burnout: “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress and activity. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.” I like this definition because it includes the physical, mental, and emotional impacts of burnout – not everyone feels burnout the same way, so recognizing that it can impact us in more than one way is important. Although, it’s just as important to recognize that your physical, mental, and emotional systems all exist in your body and are heavily intertwined, if not all the same (see our blog on Disembodiment). 

The resources I found regarding burnout are almost entirely related to professional instances; however, I found one from Psychology Today that I felt was easily adaptable to other areas of life and would fit well here. You can reference the original article here.

Increase Self-Efficacy

Believing in your own ability to accomplish goals and complete projects is step one in preventing burnout. If you start out thinking you’re going to fail or let negative self-talk dominate your inner-dialogue, it’s not going to take very long to reach a point of complete defeat. If you have a hard time with confidence and trusting yourself, look to a friend who exhibits those traits and use them as a model to improve your own self-efficacy. Staying invested in your own abilities to reach your goals is key to realistically and successfully completing them.

Identify What You Need

When embarking on a goal, whether it’s work-related, pole related, or otherwise, you need to start out by asking yourself what you need to complete that goal. What do you need from yourself? From your support network? From a professional? Are there resources that will make this process easier? Will the process of completing the goal feel rewarding, or like a punishment? Will you find enjoyment in the steps you need to take to get there? Ask yourself as many questions as you can think of to figure out what you need, right off the bat. Make a list and keep it close-by; visit it often to make sure you’re having all of your needs met throughout the process.

Have Other Outlets

This rule started as “have creative outlets,” but sometimes our creative outlets can be the thing we’re burned out on! I thought that the simple change to “other” outlets fit our purposes better. When you are investing your time in energy in one goal, it can be easy to get caught up in it. Obsessing over the goal and giving it too much attention will wear you down quickly, so be sure to give your time to other things as well. For example: when I’ve worked on competition routines for pole, I found myself thinking about my routine and training 24/7 and then wearing myself down physically in the studio when I actually got to work. Giving my active hours to other activities like yoga, ballet, and hiking while I’m working on a routine helps me find balance and a better distribution of time and energy while I work toward my competition goal; it also provides mental breaks from thinking about competing with a healthy, movement-based distraction.

Take Care Of Yourself

This one is obvious, right? If your physical needs aren’t being met, you’re not going to get anywhere with your goals. You’re not going to get anywhere in general! Stick to a healthy sleep schedule, eat full and nutritious meals, stay hydrated, find moments to relax and unwind, and engage in regular exercise to keep your mind sharp and your body moving. In today’s society, people are terrible at making time to take care of themselves. One thing I always remind my friends of is that they can’t do anything if they end up sick or in the ER because they couldn’t take an extra 20 minutes to eat a real meal, or get to bed at a decent hour because they “needed” to watch more Netflix – this applies to reaching our goals as well!

Ask For Support

When burnout starts happening, it’s easy to want to isolate yourself and hideaway. We turn to these behaviors because burnout is often accompanied by feelings of failure, shame, guilt, and embarrassment – those aren’t feelings we readily share with most of the people in our lives, understandably. However, responding to those emotions with isolation is one of the worst things we can do. Reaching out to a close friend, family member, trusted colleague, or mental health professional is a much better option. An outside opinion can often help put things into perspective, and sharing how you feel will build stronger relationships with those around you. 

Get Real

If you feel like you’re burning out, or realize you are totally 100% burned out, start asking yourself questions. Facilitate internal and external conversations about how you got to this point, where unhealthy habits might have penetrated your life, and what needs you denied yourself along the way that led to burnout. These questions might be really hard to answer, but they’ll help get you back on track (or push you to recognize that you pursued an unhealthy goal). Bringing trusted people into these conversations can be helpful.

Increase Your “Diet” Of Positive Emotions

This one is fun – by simply recognizing positivity in yourself or others, you increase your “diet” of positive emotions. Training yourself to look for and recognize positive emotions helps increase your resilience and creativity, both of which you’ll need on your journey to accomplishing your goals. It’s recommended that you shoot for a ratio of 3:1 for positive: negative emotions in your diet – keeping track of that might be difficult, so I would suggest reflecting at the end of each day whether or not you noticed more positive emotions in yourself and others, or negative ones. If you’re finding that negative emotions are dominating your diet, try to start noticing positive emotions by keeping a list in your phone or a journal during the day, verbally validating a positive emotion when you notice it, or curating moments in your day to increase positive emotions.

Burnout is a very real and very difficult condition, no matter what area of life you experience it in. If you find that you’re really struggling to prevent burnout, my best advice is to take an extended break from your activities or seek professional help from a healthcare provider. Burnout can be a trigger for panic attacks, anxiety, and depression, so it’s best not to ignore it, should it be a precursor to a larger problem. 

“Rise and grind” is only a good motto until you’re stuck in bed, exhausted, and mentally debilitated. Keeping burnout at bay is just as worthy of a goal as any other that you may have set for yourself recently – keep it at the top of your priority list as you navigate personal and professional endeavors and you’ll find yourself accomplished and satisfied.