Burnout rarely comes out of nowhere. There are signs, some of which are clearer than others. Here are some important signs that you might be “burning in” without even realising it. Paying attention to your emotions will be key in helping you avoid burnout.
The issue of burnout at work has received extensive coverage over the last few years. Today, everyone knows what burnout is. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “ruining your health through overwork”.
Anyone can suffer burnout but with the pandemic, women are disproportionately affected. Pre-pandemic, research in the US showed that 68% of working women experienced burnout against 58% of men. Numbers have now crossed 70% for women, 62% of which admitted to taking time off work because of stress. In the current situation, women are four times more likely to leave their jobs than men.
Have you heard of “burning in”?
As you might have guessed, burning in refers to the stages leading up to burnout. It is very important to be able to recognise the signs that you’re burning in to avoid an impending burnout.
8 signs that you’re burning in
#1 You’re working hard but you feel like this is paying off
You might be in a new job or a new position at work or even on a new project. You like the excitement. You feel committed, energetic and creative. You feel that you’re working very hard but you know that this was to be expected. You knew that this would put you in a stressful, demanding situation so you accept it as part of the deal.
Signs: You are aware that you are working very hard but you feel satisfied and optimistic. You’re committed to your work and feel productive. You accept hard work as a given in your current situation.
#2 You constantly feel like you have to prove yourself
You’re anxious about working harder. You feel like you need to do more. Some days are harder than others. On those days, you feel that your energy and optimism are no longer there. You sometimes feel like you’re working in a void because of that never ending need to prove yourself. You also start to feel less productive.
Signs: You start to feel mentally, emotionally and physically drained. You feel less satisfied with your job.
#3 You’re experiencing a creative void
You’re usually full of ideas but these days you feel blank. You feel empty inside, drained. This is affecting your creative process. You struggle to make decisions and you notice you forget more and more stuff.
Signs: You are less productive. You feel empty inside. You struggle to make decisions, even simple ones.
#4 You’ve started to question your love for work
You generally love what you do. Your work is an important part of your identity and you take pride in your work ethic. However, you’ve now started to question whether you really love what you do. You’re not sure if the problem is the work itself, the company you’re currently in or, even, yourself.
Signs: You no longer love what you used to love doing. You’re asking yourself: is this really what I want to do?
#5 You’re not sure you’re in the right place
You feel out of place on a regular basis but you’re not sure why. You’ve started to resent others for the discomfort you’re experiencing.
Signs: You question your career choices. You’re not sure whether you’re working in the right company, whether you’re living in the right city or country.
#6 You’re not sure what to do in your personal time anymore
When you’re not working you feel low on energy. You’ve lost your enthusiasm for non-work related stuff.
Signs: You withdraw from friends and family. You don’t have any hobbies or interests anymore.
#7 You feel like most days aren’t working out well…
You know there is a problem but you’re not sure what it is. You find yourself obsessing over problems at work and constantly doubt yourself.
Signs: You often feel indifferent and apathetic. Alternatively, you often feel attacked and threatened by others. This is showing up as irritability and aggression.
#8 ...but you’ve started to believe that this state of being is normal
You tell yourself that everyone struggles, that you’re working in a high pressure industry and that’s the price to pay.
Signs: A lack of interest in finding solutions to your situation. You feel cynical and/or empty. You have generally a pessimistic outlook on life.
Your emotions tell you when you’re burning in
The only way that you can tell whether you’re burning in and are on your way towards burnout is by paying attention to your emotions. Your emotions provide the information you need to make the right decisions in terms of your needs as well as your values. If you’re struggling with ongoing anxiety, if you feel resentful towards others, if you’ve started to hate what you used to love...all these are important signs you must pay attention to.
We are all different. That’s why you need to pay attention to your emotions to figure out what is right for you both in the short and longer term. Your emotions tell you when you’re crossing your limits and when you need to make some adjustments.
Guilt may be tricking you into working harder still
Women are prone to guilt. That’s because women tend to feel responsible for other people’s wellbeing and solving all the problems around them. (I know you know!)
But if you don’t pay attention to your emotions and if you don’t use them, you’re headed to burnout.
On the other hand, if you learn to process and use your emotions, you’ll be empowered to make the changes and make the decisions that you need to be able to show up as your best self and feel good about it.
Do you work in a high pressure environment? Are your emotions troubling you? Do you want to be able to use your emotions, instead of letting them use you?
I can help.
In my 6-month one-on-one coaching program, I help ambitious women like you to use their emotions so they can show up as their best self and feel great about themselves. I work with career driven women to give them the tools they need to be able to stay on top of their emotions - including the ones triggered by imposter syndrome. The idea is that you become your own ally, instead of an enemy.
Check out my program to see if it’s something that can help you advance your career and build the life you want to build.
You can book a discovery session (free) to see whether the program is the right fit for you.*
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