Leveling up is usually reserved for video games and the like. It’s not as common to hear it outside of a console or PC. However, the core concept is as applicable to games as it is to real-life growth. Growth is the change that has the power to uproot dynamics and shuffle them around to better accommodate the life and lived experience of the grower.
Let’s not mince words, burnout is the equivalent to growth, that a sunless box is to a plant. Burnout provides nothing but exhaustion, disillusionment, and contempt, and although we Americans frequently glorify “the grind”, the reality is that burnout doesn’t go away just from “working harder.” It comes from change, from growth - from leveling up.
If you’ve not heard of burnout, it is a fortunate word in that it is almost immediately understood simply from its saying. Burnout is the physical and psychological condition of being utterly exhausted, fed up, bored with, and resentful of your work.
Burnout can be completely detrimental to daily life, but it’s the perfect time to look at the possibility of switching careers and pursuing alternate education. If you’ve been stuck at a desk job that you’re not satisfied with, according to a recent study by the Mercer Institute, the time may be right to look at expanding into the healthcare field, with online NP programs in Texas appearing particularly attractive.
However, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. The first step to combating burnout is understanding whether or not you have it. It’s not for us to tell you what you’re feeling or experiencing, so if you find yourself feeling generally off or under the weather with seemingly no cause, we recommend seeing your doctor. However, common symptoms of burnout include:
So how do we battle burnout? Well, you know what they say. Fight fire with fire.
It’s easy to dismiss burnout as just not getting enough sleep, losing interest, or just going through a rough patch. The fact is, that it is so much more. Burnout stems from an existential feeling of misalignment. At some point, your mind has realized that something in your career or life isn’t connected to who you are or what you want, even if you haven’t realized it consciously.
But you can’t go through a re-examination of your life while you’re devoured by the pressures of your job. That’s why you’re in this position.
The first step to combating burnout is to reclaim some time for yourself. If burnout is the feeling of misalignment, this is the time to connect with yourself again. Everyone’s situation is different, so we can’t offer all-encompassing advice. But, it may be worth negotiating a reduction in hours at work, or discussing the problem with your partner or spouse and letting them know that you need some time to refocus on things. Try and engage in hobbies you haven’t been able to indulge in, share moments of connection with your family and friends, or challenge yourself to do something different. Reclaiming time is about distancing yourself from your work, fostering a sense of self, and reacquainting you with you.
We’d like to reiterate, that if you’re experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms to the point where it is dramatically affecting your life or is potentially dangerous (falling asleep while driving, careless mistakes at work, accident-prone behavior due to exhaustion etc) then please see a doctor immediately.
But while you’re there, ask if you can be referred to a psychologist or counselor.
Burnout is not a weakness, nor is it a sign that you need to be institutionalized. As of March 30, 2023, it was found that 89% of Americans reported having been burned out in the past year. It is a serious condition, with potentially devastating effects for you and others. There is no shame in seeking help from a therapist or other mental health professional. What’s more, these experts can offer guidance and unbiased external advice on Level 1. They can also help in advocating for you for time off, and in seeking pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressants or antianxiety medication.
Guess what, through time reclamation and the engagement of professional support, you’ve given yourself the best start to recover from this period of your life.
But these tools are useless if they aren’t utilized properly.
If you’ve ever been on antibiotics, you know that they demand a rigorous and strict schedule to work effectively, and you must continue to take them even if you start feeling better. Suppose the dosage isn’t maintained according to the requisite schedule. In that case, your body creates antibodies against the antibiotics, and if you haven’t fully killed the virus, it may come back stronger and more resistant.
It can be similar to mental health. Use your resources. Enforce your boundaries, be vigilant about your therapy, confide in loved ones and trusted friends, schedule time for yourself for certain activities and stick to it. Practice self-care with no apology, and no exceptions. If you don’t use these tools, and continue after you see some improvement, your burnout may creep back into your life and the same strategies may not be as effective as they were when you first began.
You aren’t alone. Burnout is overwhelmingly present in America today, and it is a very real, legitimate, and painful struggle. However, maybe the reason you’re burned out is because your career no longer provides what it once did; mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Whatever is going on, there’s just no more meaning in your career.
Of course, we acknowledge this is a huge step. It’s going to take weeks, if not months or years of self-reflection, research, and maybe even study. And then you’ll have to start from the bottom again in the hiring pool, looking for the job you feel called to.
It will be tough, it may be one of the hardest things you do in your life. But adversity is a sign that whatever you’re working towards is the right thing, and when you reach your goal you can look back on your struggle with fondness, and the knowledge that your relationship with yourself is better than ever. There’s no price on that which can’t be paid in money.