“Burnout for me starts when I’ve been running too fast for too long. The faster I spin, the less time I have for stillness, calm, and recharging my batteries. Eventually, it’s as if all the water in the bathtub has drained away and there’s nothing left for me to give.”
My friend described burnout to me and I read between the lines to learn that she has had it more than once. My friend is a very balanced and intelligent being who is excelling in her corporate job and loving her social life, her dogs, and her new neighborhood. But she too has stress and stress can be unique for everyone – some people get stressed just because they have run out of milk.
I thought about all the people I know who are burning out or have burned out at least once in their lives, or who know partners or friends who have burned out or are burning out. Burnout is a huge and growing phenomenon and a sign of our times in our modern world. All around us, the climate is changing, money is losing its value and crazy diseases pop their heads up. Crime, traffic, lack of space, and lack of time – are things that drive our lives and intensify our stress levels.
The Big Burnout of 2022
Well, the biggest reason for the exacerbated burnout of 2022 has surely got to do with what went before – the previous two years of the Covid 19 pandemic, that’s what. Many of us lost loved ones and lived in the uncertain moment of not knowing who would be next, me or my partner, my kids or my friends? Lockdowns sure took their toll on families, partnerships, and friendships, and many people lost their jobs, and their livelihoods.
Burnout can get so bad it turns into exhaustion and is linked to depression. How can you be happy when burning out? Think of a log on fire – it burns brightly and shows us beautiful golden hues, coppers, and bronzes – then red then – dead! Black! Coals are all that are left. Think about your heart. If you cannot feel emotion, then your heart must be dead, black. Your heart chakra must be blocked.
Natural energy healers say that burnout is an illness of energy that begins in the chakras. Let me explain.
Isabelle Morton notes that burnout “causes a deterioration of the central channel to the point that it can no longer funnel Heaven and Earth energy as it should. This deterioration tends to begin locally, behind certain chakras. Because each chakra influences a different aspect of our life, we can expect a certain type of burnout symptom to occur depending on where the deterioration is located and which chakra is most affected.”
Isabelle uses gemstone therapy to heal the chakras.
Let’s take a look at each chakra then, to see what the signs are if the central channel is not funneling energy to these areas:
- Crown chakra – feel cynical, bad attitude, headaches
- Brow chakra – can’t focus during the day and have insomnia at night; feel distant or separate, headaches
- Throat chakra – reduced creativity, battling to communicate, not wanting to acknowledge burnout
- Heart chakra – mood swings, anger, emotionally exhausted, numb
- Stomach chakra – unable to cope, detached, stomachache, digestion not healthy
- Sacral chakra – lack of relating to others, alienation
- Root chakra – lack of commitment, motivation, listless
What Exactly is Burnout?
Burnout is based on stress and many of us feel very stressed in personal ways. Some of us have busy corporate lives, working all day for a boss, then getting home to sort out the children, make food, do some housework, shop, and still have time to feed the dogs and look at Facebook!
Others are stay-at-home moms or dads who get trapped by the chores lists and the garden and the courier at the door and the broken swing and the vegies dying of fungal diseases and the blocked drains. There is traffic, shortages of money, and no time in the day to do it all. The children come home with so many things expected of them, and they need help with everything. When they don’t ask for help and don’t pass, you feel bad, and you blame yourself.
Weekends are spent out for sport and lunch and teas and helping charities and getting a surf in or a gym workout in and seeing friends and then doing it all again.
This is burnout.
Our ancestors used to survive, wake up with the birds, make a fire, hunt and gather, sort out the children, eat, and sleep at sunset. There were plenty of natural dangers around but that was survival.
An article in the National Library of Medicine’s InformedHealth.org [Internet] states that three main symptoms or signs of burnout are:
- Exhaustion: feeling drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and lacking energy. Physical symptoms include pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems.
- Alienation from (work-related) activities: jobs become increasingly stressful and frustrating. Feeling cynical about working conditions and colleagues. Emotionally distant, feeling numb.
- Reduced performance: Everyday tasks at work affected, at home, or when caring for family members. Very negative about tasks, find it hard to concentrate, listless, and lack creativity.
Do you feel any of these symptoms? I must say, I have felt them. I think there are many of us who can agree that these symptoms can be overwhelming. I mean, the literature says don’t worry be happy and if we feel sad, we feel guilty as hell. But my friend Caroline reminded me that without the downs we would not have the ups and that is the yin and yang of life, not so? Do you agree that we humans were not meant to smell the roses all day long – really?
Burnout vs Depression
It is important to remember that some of these symptoms are also causes or signs of depression – such as extreme exhaustion, feeling down or melancholy and lacking motivation, energy, or performance. Depression is longer term than burnout and is not only related to work issues or caring for others’ issues (many burnout cases stem from work stress and being a carer or parent with too many responsibilities). Depression can show up as low self-esteem, hopelessness, and suicidal tendencies.
So now we need to learn the five stages of burnout so that we can be ready to recognise and tackle them when they arise. Burnout is a long, drawn-out illness that must be addressed through proper self-care and rest. Talk about it, don’t hide it. Be accountable for your own happiness and sit with all feelings of worthlessness until they pass, even if that takes months or years.
Integris health has this to say about the five stages of burnout:
- Honeymoon phase – Like a honeymoon phase in a marriage, this stage comes with energy and optimism. Whether it is starting a new job or tackling a new task, it’s common to experience satisfaction that leads to periods of productivity and the ability to tap into your creative side.
- Onset of stress phase – Eventually, the honeymoon phase dwindles, and you begin to experience stress. Not every second of your day is stressful, but there are more frequent times when stress takes over. As this stage begins, take notice of any physical or mental signs. You may start to lose focus more easily or be less productive when completing tasks. Physically, fatigue can start to set in, making it more difficult to sleep or enjoy activities outside of work.
- Chronic stress phase – You’ll reach a point where the stress becomes more persistent, or chronic. As the pressure mounts, the stress is likely to consistently affect your work. Examples include feelings of apathy, not completing work on time, being late for work or procrastinating during tasks. Socially, you may withdraw from normal work-related conversations. In other cases, you may become angry and lash out at co-workers. Sometimes, these feelings follow you home and can affect relationships with friends and family.
- Burnout phase – This phase is when you reach your limit and can no longer function as you normally would. Problems at work begin to consume you to the point where you obsess over them. At times, you may also feel numb and experience extreme self-doubt. Physical symptoms will become intense, leading to chronic headaches, stomach issues and gastrointestinal problems. Friends and family members may also notice behavioral changes.
- Habitual burnout phase – If left untreated, burnout can become a part of your everyday life and eventually lead to anxiety or depression. You can also begin to experience chronic mental and physical fatigue that prevents you from working. Your job status may be put in jeopardy if you continue on this path.
Physical symptoms of burnout can include:
- Feeling tired
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Experiencing a change in appetite
- Dealing with headaches or muscle pain
- Lacking motivation
- Experiencing feelings of self-doubt
- Failure or loneliness
- An overall feeling of dissatisfaction
- Social isolation
- Not performing your responsibilities
- Work-related anger outbursts
There are many ways to get better from burnout, but it can take time. Start to listen to your body and to your mind and make time and space for you. Mediation, reading, journaling, and taking long walks in nature are excellent cures for burnout. Tell your family and get help from your doctor. Be careful of medications and try some alternative therapies – such as fixing the chakras with energy healing, gemstone therapy, and more.
Let me know if you suffer from burnout.
The bottom line is don’t drink! Alcohol will only make things worse.
Read my friend Jade’s personal account of burnout right HERE.
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