Q: My job used to mean everything to me. I worked long hours, weekends included. I didn’t mind doing it because I loved my work. Recently I’ve noticed that I am struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I’m tired all the time. I have become irritable and impatient with everyone. I feel that no-one appreciates what I do for the company. I can’t understand this change of attitude. What has happened to me?
A: It seems as though you have reached a level of exhaustion that is going to take more than one good night’s sleep to repair. The symptoms that you describe are often signs of burnout. This means you have exhausted your physical and emotional energies and you will need a break from your job to refuel and replenish your body and mind. When you keep pushing yourself beyond feelings of tiredness, ignoring your body’s signals that it needs a rest, it will eventually get your attention. Getting sick is one way your body signals a need for rest; low energy levels and lack of motivation are others.
One of the most telling signs of burnout is the impression you get that you are not appreciated. When you give more time or energy to a project than you can afford, you are likely to feel the people around you have no idea how hard you work. Negative thoughts are often the root cause of burnout as they lead to resentment and unhappiness.
Feeling irritable and impatient with those around you is a sign that you have lost touch with what is really important.
While your work is important, so are your health and relationships with others. In times of crisis you will be sustained by your family and friends, not your work.
Like nature, our lives go through cycles, and busy times should be followed by rest. Finding a balance between work and play is more difficult for people who take their work seriously, but you need to take a break. Get away from your usual routine and find a quiet place to think about your life. Establish a balance between work and play. A balanced life includes time for exercise, fun, friends, family and spiritual things.
You will be able to go back refreshed and full of energy.
Don’t wait until you suffer a heart attack, stroke or mental breakdown.
Listen to your body and give it what it needs— rest and a balanced life. Your work will thank you for it.