by Stefanie | 07.29.21
This summer, the hanni gang has been discussing burnout and the toll it is taking on society. Anyone can experience burnout and sometimes we don’t even realize it until the damage has been done. We have been programmed to think that more is always better; more is the path to achievement. Work your hardest in high school so you can go to a top tier university. Spend your college career in the library so you can land a fancy job at a prestigious company. Dedicate your life to your work until you reach the top.
We are setting ourselves up for inevitable failure. We are expected to buckle down and summit this mountain peak — that for 99.9% of us will remain out of reach forever. We try and try and push ourselves farther than our bodies and minds can handle, and the end result is hopelessness, depression and anxiety - we become burned out. But what exactly does that mean?
burn·out | \ ˈbərn-ˌau̇t
According to Mirriam Webster, burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”
There has always been a very fine line between giving something your all and giving it more than you should. Today, that line is so blurred even an optometrist can’t fix it. The pandemic-induced shift of working from home has somehow given birth to the notion that we are available to others All. The. Time. Suddenly it's acceptable to schedule a team meeting at 7am or 7pm; no big deal because you’re just sitting at home, right? WRONG! Or maybe you work in the service industry and have to deal with a constant barrage of patrons who have been cooped up too long and have forgotten any semblance of manners. There’s only so much a person can deal with before they just can’t anymore. Here’s the thing about living, breathing entities - they need to be able to live and breathe. A recent study in The Journal of Animal Ecology says that even Bambi is suffering from burnout (read it here - it’s super interesting).
So what’s the solution? Are we doomed to a life of all work and no play or can we take a stand and reclaim our physical and mental health? The good news is that many people who have reached their breaking point are turning to therapy in an attempt to remedy their situation. The bad news is that now the therapists themselves are suffering from burnout and the exhaustion that comes with feeling and dealing with the pain of so many.
We’ve heard all the standard advice: spend time outdoors, find a new hobby, exercise, take a break from technology. Easier said than done. What it really boils down to is the act of self-care and whatever that looks like for you. Sometimes the smartest thing you can do for your body is to not do anything at all.
It’s no coincidence that both business analysts and academics are anticipating “The Great Resignation” over the next year. In the US alone, more than 75% of people are seriously considering quitting their jobs. Workers from all industries are standing up and shouting the brilliant line from the 1976 movie Network - ‘I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Though that passion and determination is decidedly admirable, it's important to remember that self-care looks completely different for every person. The key is to really think about what makes you happy or what you think might make you happy and then carve out time to make that happen, even if it's only 10 minutes a day. Maybe you’re not ready to flip off your boss and travel the country in a converted school bus. But maybe you can buy some paints and canvas and start splattering or finally set off on your journey to learn a new language. You probably won’t become the next Jackson Pollack and you may never be able to speak anything more than basic restaurant French, but you are doing something that renews your sense of self and in the end, that’s all that matters.