Let’s clear up the top 10 mistakes and misconceptions about work burnout.
There are a lot of them, but I have a top 10 list that I see and hear the most often in my coaching practice.
You might think no one cares that you are burned out, that it doesn’t matter, or that it’s not something you can overcome. I’m here to change your mind and debunk some burnout myths.
Mistake #1: You don’t think you’re that burned out or overwhelmed.
Can I be honest? You’re reading about work burnout, so something is going on. You and I have different thresholds when it comes to stress. What I see as stressful, you may not. What you see as stressful or overwhelming, I may not see the same way.
Here’s my stress threshold question: are you sleeping at night? If you’re not sleeping well, it’s usually one of the first signs there is too much stress in your life. If you have experienced chronic stress for longer than a month or two, you may be on the path to burning out.
We all experience “busy periods” or temporary periods of unusually high stress. However, if that stress doesn’t resolve or you go from one stressful situation to another – it’s time to figure out a way to decompress.
Check out my Burnout Quiz if you want more clues to your level of burnout.
Mistake #2: Takes a lot/too much work to figure out and fix the actual cause of your work burnout.
No, it doesn’t. What takes longer is trying a lot of the wrong solutions for the wrong problem.
One of the most efficient ways to get to the root cause of your burnout is to take a CliftonStrengths assessment. This assessment tells you where your natural talents lie. What a lot of us discover is that we are not working in our zone of genius or doing what we are best at. When you aren’t doing what you do best, you do get stressed out and burn out because you aren’t satisfied and happy.
Once you know what problems need to be fixed, it’s a lot easier to hone in on the right solution.
Mistake #3: Burnout is something to be ashamed of or is the equivalent of failure.
Burnout is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it a sign of failure.
When I first realized I was burned out, I confided in a fellow business owner about my struggle. This business owner told me to keep my burnout and stress fears to myself because it is important to appear strong and confident when you own a business.
In my gut, I knew this was bad advice. It wasn’t until a few years later when speaking with another group of business owners that a few of us admitted to our feelings of burnout. Realizing that I wasn’t alone actually built my confidence. Also recognizing the chronic stress I was under as a health problem, helped me take bigger steps toward remedying my burnout.
When you are burned out or experiencing chronic overwhelm and stress – that’s the time to reach out to supportive colleagues, friends, and family. (Obviously, I made a bad choice the first time.)
Mistake #4: There isn’t any effective way to recover from burnout.
There are actually a variety of effective ways to recover from burnout. In fact, check out my video on “Recover from Burnout: Effective Burnout Solutions.” I’ll link to it in the show notes. What prevents many from recovering is that they don’t want to do the hard mindset work that comes with admitting you put yourself in this stressful situation.
I will also point out that there isn’t one solution that works for everyone. It takes a variety or a combination of solutions to recover. So, you may have to try a few things until you figure out what works best for you.
Keep in mind, you can’t recover from burnout overnight. Burning out didn’t happen in a day, so it’s going to take some time to recover.
Mistake #5: If you get some rest or take a break, eventually, you’ll be fine.
When I was initially going through burnout, this was about all the advice I could find: get some sleep, take a vacation, lessen your workload, and hire some help. It was very frustrating because none of those things worked without getting to the root of my burnout.
When you don’t know what specifically is burning you out, the solutions you try will all be temporary band aids.
Getting more quality sleep, taking a break, and lessening your workload do matter in the burnout recovery process. However, what no one else will tell you: you need to know why you are burning out and get to the root of your burnout so you can extinguish what is continuing to cause you problems. Otherwise, burnout will just keep happening.
Here’s an example: Lessening your workload won’t help if you already manage employees because it could be that managing employees is what is causing you chronic stress.
Yes, getting some rest or taking a break will eventually help when you have applied the correct solution to the correct problem.
Mistake #6: It’s normal to feel constantly overwhelmed.
We live in a “busy culture” that prides itself on wearing stress like a badge of honor. Honestly, though, this stress is not good for any of us and thinking that it’s something to be proud of is unhealthy.
We all go through periods of time when we are busier than usual. That is totally normal. When you chronically overschedule or overcommit to work, that’s a problem.
Your schedule should be a mixture of high and low periods of activity. But, if you are constantly feeling overwhelmed for long periods of time with no rest in sight – you’ve got a problem.
Mistake #7: You don’t like saying no and enforcing boundaries because it makes you feel guilty or are afraid to upset others.
The first time I told a client that I would not accommodate an after hours call, I sweated profusely and feared it would close my business down. No such thing happened. In fact, they complimented me on my boundaries and said they thought they would just ask. They didn’t expect me to accommodate them.
While people don’t love to hear no, they do expect it. And, if they can’t handle you turning them down – they aren’t your person. You are entitled to have clear boundaries that you enforce professionally and personally. You should say no to work that doesn’t align with your priorities and goals.
You can’t control other people’s reactions, but you can control your own and make sure your needs are being met.
If you would like help learning how to create effective boundaries, check out my book, Stop Being A Doormat. By the time you finish my book, you will have clearly defined boundaries and will be able to confidently enforce them.
Mistake #8: You should feel guilty for practicing self-care.
What?!? This one has always amazed me.
Everyone needs and deserves downtime. Everyone.
It’s time to change your mind about the importance of practicing self-care and adding it to your routine and schedule.
If you take no other advice from this video: take this advice – take care of yourself. If you let yourself go, become overwhelmed or develop resentment and animosity – who are you really going to help?
Mistake #9: You expect others to handle excessive stress and overwhelm without complaining.
Learn from my mistake: your friends and family can only handle so much of your complaining and excessive stress before it becomes more than obvious you need to get off of your butt and do something about it.
Chronic complaining – basically reliving the stress over and over again every time you complain about it – without taking any action to remedy your problems, is stressful for the complainer and the listener. I have ruined many friendships because I didn’t recognize when enough was enough.
It’s okay to complain and stress out in front of your family and friends. The people who love you the most want to support you and that includes just listening when you need to vent. However, if the only conversations they have with you are one-sided because you spend all of your time with them complaining, it will get old really quick.
Mistake #10: No one wants to help you.
The people who love you the most – your family and friends – want to see you succeed. When you are under chronic stress, the people closest to you often suffer along with you. No one wants to see you miserable and stressed out. They want to see you succeed and thrive.
So, allow them the means to do so by communicating where you are and what you need.
This mistake is a two-way street: you will need to do the hard work on your own, not wait for someone else to change your mindset for you. You are the only person that can do that anyway. But your support system can be by your side to encourage you.
Further proof people want to help you: I am a total stranger, posting a video with helpful information to support you.
If you are suffering from burnout or working to prevent it, be sure to subscribe to my email list at JenniferBassman.com and my Youtube channel. I consistently update with blog posts and videos that discuss burnout and ideas directly related to it.