May 7, 2020
Katie Maycock | Anxiety and Digestive Health Specialist
You know those times when you’re so excited to start a new job? Or a new routine? Or a new goal?
How exhilarated you feel?
It’s as if you are staring into a barrel of opportunity. You could even say you feel giddy.
It feels AMAZING. I’m not going to lie, I personally love that feeling.
Those mornings when you wake up and you bounce out of bed ready and raring for the day. The focus you have, the clarity that urges you closer to your desired goal.
This all stems from the adrenaline that is coursing through your veins. This adrenaline comes from excitement and possibilities.
Fun fact; adrenaline isn’t always a bad thing. There are distinct benefits to having adrenaline. For instance, increased energy, increased mental clarity, increased focus, increased productivity.
It actually sounds pretty fantastic. What goes wrong?
You know that excitement you felt at the start of your goal, project, target, year or whatever it may be that got your adrenaline pumping?
Yeah, that feeling. That feeling is the first sign of burnout.
Seriously, the first sign of burnout is excitement. Who knew?
Now, let me put this into context.
A lot of people get excited about new goals, new jobs or simply a new routine. However, after a while, their bodies start to slow down. Maybe there is a little inner voice saying “I know we’ve achieved a lot over the past few weeks and months, but it’s time for a break”.
Some people will listen to that voice. Take an adequate amount of rest.
Then there are the people who choose to ignore that voice. They’ve seen the success they have achieved from working that long and that hard. It becomes an addiction. They can’t possibly see any other way to live.
They force those longs hours. The 12-16 hour days stop being pleasurable. They become a necessity to ensure they are achieving their goals. The idea of cutting back starts that inner voice of “what if”.
They keep searching for that adrenaline that made them feel invincible.
However, alas, it’s rarely found and if they do find it, it doesn’t last long.
One of the most common statements I hear is “but I thrive off stress” or “stress is what keeps me going”. This is essentially not a lie. However, what a lot of people don’t recognise is that that stress is only useful for the short term. Over a prolonged period in time, it turns into burnout.
Burnout can sneak up on you. It doesn’t follow a strict pattern.
Some people can remain in that moment of excitement or stress without suffering straight away.
For others, they develop signs and symptoms within a few weeks.
However, at the end of the day, many people end up heading down the slippery slope to burnout.
What do you need to look out for?
Here is a small list for you keep an eye out for:
- Digestive issues (IBS, allergies, intolerances)
- Aches and pains
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Decreased immunity
- Anxiety (YES, you read that right! Anxiety)
Notice that the signs and symptoms of burnout are the exact opposite of how it started?
That adrenaline has made its mark on your output, is now reversing the positive effects. What started off being your fuel has ended up running your “gas tank” empty.
Now, let’s take that metaphor a little further.
When you first start working towards your goal your gas tank is full.
Over time your gas tank goes down. However, when our cars run low on gas we go and fill it up.
Why do we treat our bodies differently?
For a lot of people, they push their bodies to the extreme until they wake up with burnout.
They can’t move, they’re so fatigued that the simple thought of getting out of bed is too much.
This is something I have consistently been seeing since working in my field.
People are being signed off from work.
People are being forced to change their lifestyle.
Companies are losing amazing employees.
The medical system is being inundated with people who are suffering from burnout.
The issue here is it does not have to be like that. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
You can still be striving forward, being productive and achieving goals without succumbing to burnout.
Companies and individuals need to start looking at the way they work. Making small lifestyle choices now to prevent burnout is much more efficient than overcoming burnout.