Recovering from burnout can be daunting. For many, our life is a constant striving for a “better now”. And investing too much of ourselves into one life activity—whether that be work, school, family life, or even an extracurricular—can eventuate in exhaustion and drain vital energy. Within my own coaching practice, I’ve witnessed the consequences of those who experience a weighed down life and how it impacts one’s physical, mental and emotional body. So, what can be done to transform burnout into an experience that brings us back to aliveness and ease? In order to answer this, we have to consider what burnout is and how to reflect on it.
Burnout is a persistent feeling of being overworked, underworked and/or disconnected from our values. When we are overworked we are taking on too many activities at the expense of our physical and mental well-being. Each one of us has a limited capacity to engage in tasks and endeavours, even the most exciting ones. Being underworked is about feeling disengaged or unmotivated in the tasks we take part in. Whether that be the experience of working in a job or participating in a relationship that feels unfulfilling, monotonous or dull, underworking or underperforming can drain our energy reserves. And engaging in life activities that misalign with our core values can also strip us from fulfilment. A values misalignment means not engaging with people or activities that are important and meaningful to our well-being.
So what can be done if any of these qualities of burnout are your lived experience? Ask yourself these reflective questions with curiosity and open-mindedness:
- Am I saying yes to too many people and activities?
- Is it time for more reflection and rest, as opposed to action?
- Do I allow for some degree of flexibility in my life?
- Am I managing my time, energy and attention well?
- What are my mechanisms for self-imposing accountability?
- How do I get myself inspired?
- What are my core values? Am I living them out genuinely?
- Am I spending my life energy on the things that matter most to me?
- Is my experience of values misalignment tolerable or do I need to make a change to feel more fulfilled?
Reflecting on these questions is the first step to transforming burnout into insight. Through insight, we can work towards and craft a stronger sense of aliveness and connectedness to the life we want to live.