How is your flame burning today?  It's been a very long week for me so far and I've been working long hours as well so I am feeling exhausted.  I took notice to this exhaustion mid week, feeling drained of ideas, emotions and energy.  You've felt this way before, we all have.  My Dad would say to me, "You're burning the candle at both ends and you know what that means".  This is so true, when you don't stop for a moment to notice the other things around you and take a break, you start to burn your energy from both ends - eventually burning out all together. 

When we burn out, we become emotionally, mentally and physically drained.  
(The Symptoms of Burnout) It occurs when we start to feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to meet constant demands.  It saps our energy, leaving us feeling hopeless, cynical and sometimes even resentful.  Eventually, you start to feel as if you have nothing left to give.

We all have days when we are pulled in many different directions, feeling unappreciated and unproductive with little concentration on the things we really want to be doing.  Does this cause the burnout or do we bring some of it on ourselves?  (Do I have adult ADD?) Well, if I had to answer the first question for myself, I would say I do bring some of it on myself.  I tend to take on too many task at once.  When you add that to my tendency for perfection and impatience, you get a completely overwhelmed, over-tired version of the typical happy-go-lucky me.  Do I have adult ADD?  Well, the verdict is still out on that, but my father would probably say yes to that question.

During my career in sales, I often worked long hours, traveled to different time zones, other countries, and entertained clients into the late hours of the night.  I am always passionate about my work and this was no different in the sales world.  If I was trying to win a new client, sell a product or start a marketing campaign for a product in place, I would put in my all and then some.  This often led to burnout mode for me in my career and my personal life.  It would usually lead to pure exhaustion, lack of energy and often attack my immune system, physically making me sick.  What I learned from that experience over the years is to notice the signs of burn out as they start and hit them head on to prevent burning that candle from the other end.  After all, your light is only "on" if the candle is actually burning.  I am still very passionate about my work and I do tend to work long hours and often late at night, but now, when the signs of burn out start to appear, I try to handle things a little differently.  Below are a few things you might want to consider if you are starting to experience your flame burning out.

Stretch and Breathe.  When we stretch our body or practice Yoga, while paying attention to our breath, our blood starts to flow more freely and our body and mind start to relax.
 (The Benefits of Yoga) If you're stressed from sitting in the same position for a long period of time, like a desk or car, take a moment to take some deep breaths and stretch your muscles.  You will instantly feel a release.

 (Relaxation and Wellness) Whether it's an earlier bedtime, a later wake up or just some down time on the sofa, take time to unplug and rest your mind.  Our best ideas often come while we are in a more relaxed state of mind.

Exercise.  Go out for a brisk walk and take the dog if you have one.  Absorb the sunlight and admire the beauty of the great outdoors.  The fresh air opens your mind, and allows you to peacefully reflect on your day, or your week, so you can prioritize your ideas and tasks at hand.  Hit the gym or take a ride on your bike.  When you physically engage the body, your mind will start to clear and you will have more energy and resilience to deal with the hassle of life and its many demands.
(Combat Stress with Movement)

Make Time for a Friend.  These days, we are all so busy, we often lose touch with good friends or rarely, actually spend time with them.  A friend that makes you laugh and is generally fun to hang out with will lift your spirits.  For us ladies, a little venting often releases a lot of stress as well, and a good friend will let you vent.  Just make sure it isn't always about the venting and more about just hanging out and enjoying each other's time.  
(Friendship is good for the body and the soul)

Pray or Meditate.
(The Benefits of Meditation) This is a spiritual release and a time for you to be completely alone with your thoughts and your faith.  Allow yourself this time to fill your mind with gratitude and rejuvenate your spirit. (The Benefits of Prayer on our spirit)

Eat Healthy Foods and Hydrate:  Dehydration is often overlooked and can bring on a feeling of pure exhaustion.  Now, when I say hydrate, I don't mean grab a can of soda or a glass of sweet tea.  Drink water and plenty of it
(and not the flavored water made with Splenda or Sucralose).  When dehydration sets in, we first start to feel tired, lose concentration and maybe even develop a headache.  It's one of the easiest and healthiest things we can do for our bodies so drink your water.  (The Importance of Hydration)  Eat your colors and grab a snack.  A healthy diet of fruits and vegetables increase our energy.  Light, healthy snacking throughout the day curves our appetite and keeps us on our toes, helping us get through our busy days.

So, Dad, if you're reading my blog today, you'll be happy to know that I will be taking my own advice.  I decided to unplug last night and relax on the sofa with my husband, drink a tall glass of water and go to bed rather early (for me anyway).  Today, I feel rejuvenated, full of new ideas and got a great workout with my Spinners in an Irish Jig ride this morning.  I have been stretching a lot today to get my blood flowing and the difference in my mobility is amazing.  I have also taken the time to pray and express my gratitude for the warnings of burnout.  Tonight, I will make the time for friends as I have plans to spend the evening with the girls for a St. Patrick's Day celebration.  If you are experiencing the signs of burnout and feel you don't have the time in your day to practice the tips I've offered above, I suggest you imagine the outcome if you don't.  Remember, a burning candle, if only from one end, is better than no flame at all.

Kathy McDonald
3/17/2011 11:56:49 pm

Great post Dana! We all are at risk of burnout at one time or another. Some great tips to get back in our happy place again!

5/1/2012 03:09:49 pm

i like your concept of Burnout. it is rally an eyeopening post. your views are excellent on that topic.


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