June 16th, 2024

All Psyched Up: Burn out or rust out?

By Linda Hancock on October 28, 2023.

I work hard and always try to help individuals to the best of my ability. When people have questioned me about this over the years, I have replied by saying “I would rather burn out than rust out!” That might have been a cute statement but, now that I am gaining (slightly), I feel that I need to rethink this.

Here are some of the “danger signs” to be considered before you lose your health:

1. Fatigue – When you are tired even after a good sleep or are actually having problems getting to and staying asleep you need to pay attention. Some people take all their problems with them to the bedroom and keep their brain active when it needs to get rest. At night, make a list of all the things you will do tomorrow so you don’t have to do them during bedtime.

2. Attitude – This can be linked to lack of sleep or to the idea that you are just running out of the ability to cope and think in a positive vein. When you notice a change in your life that is showing up as irritation, strained relationships and a feeling of being on a hamster wheel, it is time to pay attention!

3. Investment – A long time ago, a wise mentor told me, “When you are working harder than the client, you are working too hard”. This doesn’t just apply to clients. It also can be evidenced when you are investing more time and energy into parenting, being a good neighbour or even helping friends than they are.

4. Interest – Have you lost interest in things that used to be interesting? The key again is to notice what changes have occurred in your life. Are you too busy to enjoy sports, reading, or other activities that used to feed your soul? If so, time to re-think your schedule.

5. Efficiency – When you can’t do things in as competent or timely a manner as in the past, it might be time for a break. Not just 15 minutes. Perhaps a couple of weeks. You can’t recharge your batteries by working harder!

6. Messaging – Are other people expressing concerns to and about you? Don’t confuse criticism and concern as they are very different. Even if the person who is delivering the message isn’t a close confidant, pay attention. What you might think is an unwelcome comment might turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it alerts you to the fact that there is a problem.

7. Apathy – Sometimes people begin to realize that a project or career that was once their passion has become drudgery. One foot in front of the other, over and over again, just marking time is not a good way to live. What changed? Was it the activity or was it you?

8. Values – A few years ago, I was talking with one of my adult grandsons who I hadn’t seen for a while. He explained that he was so busy and committed to a number of things but missed me too. With tongue in cheek, I asked “If I died tonight would you come to my funeral?” and he immediately said “Of course!” Then, with laughter I stated, “Let’s just pretend that I am dead”. Funny how we can reorganize our lives without much notice when we feel it is important.

9. Urgency – Are there deadlines that are not at all flexible? Good time management will ensure that things get done within the expected timeframe. Sometimes what appears to be a firm deadline is not firm. Improvement takes planning, honesty (with yourself and others) as well as commitment to the plan.

10. Expectations – Do you think that you are the only person who can do something the right way? Perhaps you need to lower your standards a touch and delegate tasks. This will not only reduce demands on you but also help other people to strengthen their skills. Think about the day that your child brought home a drawing with figures you couldn’t discern. They were so proud of their artwork, and I bet you were thankful. Give other people opportunities to grow while you encourage them too.

So often I have clients who are overwhelmed with life. Almost every one of them is able to admit that they caused their own problem. They usually just don’t know how to get themselves into a healthier and more balanced situation.

A few sessions with a psychologist might provide you with exactly what you need to get on the right track again! It, like everything, is up to you!

Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure… every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com

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