In Ep.16 Escaping the Burnout Cycle, I talk about the danger of being caught in the ebbs and flows of burnout and the difficulties of taking back control of your life. In this blog post, I will break down the components of the burnout cycle and help you understand why you may continue to find yourself in this situation.
The burnout cycle may look different for everyone, but regardless we tend to endure 4 similar stages throughout this cycle:
- Motivation: Feelings of excitement and readiness
- Over-commitment: Mental overwhelm and feeling stressed out
- Burnout: Feeling drained and unmotivated and possibly depression
- Reset: Feeling recovered and ready to take on more
The first stage in the burnout cycle is your initial motivation to succeed. You are positive and excited about what is to come, and so you are ready to commit 110% to your goals and responsibilities. In this stage, you are feeling happy and you cannot wait to begin.
Motivation in and of itself is a powerful tool to push yourself and get things done. However, as with everything in life, too much of anything isn't good for you. The danger of too much motivation results when your desire to succeed takes over your ability to recognize your capacity. This disables you from setting appropriate boundaries and renders you incapable of saying NO. In this excitement, your readiness to succeed and need to please others take over and lead you to over-commit.
In stage 2 of over-commitment, you realize that you may have jumped the gun and placed yourself in a situation that is not so exciting anymore. You may feel that your to-do list is never-ending, completing your tasks is overwhelming, and you struggle to manage your time effectively. That initial motivation to succeed and excitement for your commitments starts to dwindle as feelings of overwhelm commence.
You'll then find it difficult to sustain the demands of every day and begin experiencing stress. When feeling stressed out you may have regular or constant headaches and/or body pain and discomfort. You may also have difficulty sleeping as your mind is constantly worried about getting through this demanding schedule. The longer you feel stressed out, the more likely you are to head into the next stage once your body can no longer handle the stress.
Once you've reached your limit with stress, you'll fall into the third stage of the cycle, burnout. In this stage, you tend to withdraw from your commitments and shut down because you just can't take it anymore. It's just too demanding of a schedule. Increased anxiety, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, and detachment are common symptoms of burnout.
Depending on the severity of burnout, you may also fall into depression leading to a consistently low mood and energy, disinterest in things you previously enjoyed, significant changes in eating and sleeping habits, feelings of hopelessness, and reduced self-care.
At this point, you've realized that everything is too much... even the simplest tasks like making a meal feel strenuous. Everything just needs to STOP. So you realize you are not okay and you need to go back to basics. You rest, start taking care of yourself again and focus on your happiness. This is stage 4 the reset stage.
To get back to your old self you keep your days simple, do what brings you joy, and begin to recognize yourself again. You then start feeling better and are ready to take on more responsibilities. Although it's great you feel recovered and back to your old self, you must proceed with caution because if you're unable to recognize your boundaries once again, you will naturally head back into the motivation stage, leading you back into the burnout cycle.
If you feel that you are suffering from a never-ending burnout cycle, check out Ep.16 Escaping the Burnout Cycle where I share my techniques to escape this cycle and how you can apply them to your own life.