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Stuck in Overdrive: What Causes Burnout




Burnout. Whenever I mention that I specialize in this area it seems to resonate regardless of who I'm talking to. We push ourselves, fueled by some combination of caffeine, ambition, and basic necessity until our batteries finally go dark. But how exactly do we go from energetic and passionate to burnt-out ashes? Here are some common factors:


An Unhealthy Relationship With Work: Many of us equate our self worth with achievement and success. We glorify long hours and equate busyness with our own value. Sometimes this stems from childhood patterns of gaining approval by caring for others or getting straight As. This relentless pursuit creates chronic stress, where the box of achievement never feels fully checked off.


Work Overload: Even when we have a good relationship with work, having a workload that regularly seeps into your off hours is a recipe for exhaustion. We often sacrifice our sleep, hobbies, relationships and other parts of our lives that are meant to energize and sustain us in exchange for more emails, projects, and meetings. Fast forward several weeks, months, or years and we're left exhausted, alone, and anchorless.


Lack of Control: Feeling like a cog in a machine can suck the life out of any job. Micromanagement, lack of choice in how you work or what you work on, or unclear expectations can stifle creativity and leave us feeling powerless, contributing to feelings of dissatisfaction and boredom


Value Void: Does your work spark meaning or simply drain your soul? Aligning our values with our daily grind is crucial for long-term satisfaction. If there is a mismatch it can fuel resentment and disillusionment, and lack of purpose.


Support System Challenges:   Don't get me wrong, I love remote work and am definitely need my alone time. But when work relationships become primarily transactional it can lead to loneliness. Coupled with the fact that it's hard to make friends as an adult many of us are left feeling alone in our struggles. Fostering connections with colleagues, friends, and family creates a safety net, reminding us that we're not alone in the harder parts of life.


Work Environment Mismatch: We all have different needs when it comes to communication, support, recognition, and being rewarded for what we do. When your needs differ from what your employer or manager can provide we can often feel like we're the problem. Trying to insert our square pegged self into a environment that resembles a round hole can lead to low self worth and exhaustion.


So Now What? Recognizing that you are burning out and exploring why is the first step. Take action: identify what is adding to your burnout,  communicate your needs, and seek support. Remember, burnout isn't a weakness, it's a sign something needs to change.


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