It’s that time of the year where many of us are starting to feel the effects of cabin fever and the winter blahs. Most of us were wishing the blasted groundhog would have said just two more weeks of winter! Do you feel like you are starting to come apart at the seams? Perhaps you are experiencing burn-out.

What is burn-out?

Burn-out occurs when highly committed people start to lose interest and motivation due to physical, emotional, or psychological exhaustion. This most often happens under the following conditions:

You have been under very intense pressure for a period of time…way too long!
You find it impossible to say no to others and additional responsibilities. Your feel you owe people or have to help them.
You possess a perfectionistic personality and the need to do things 100%.
You are biting off more than you can chew. You start too many projects.
You are emotionally drained because you are letting those around you suck the life out of you.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of burn-out to watch out for? Well, the most obvious symptom of burn-out is intense fatigue. You literally have a hard time doing anything. You pretty much are physically spent! You are more likely to experience physical aches and pains which tend to linger. Your immune system is likely to be weakened and colds and bugs tend to come and go and also linger as well. You are also likely to feel a mental meltdown! You begin to feel you are not getting enough done. You may feel a loss of sense and purpose in life. It may get to the point when you start to feel you have less control if any over those things which you have mastered in the past. Watch you don’t start to isolate yourself from others. When we start to experience burn-out in our lives, we tend to withdraw ourselves from others and this adds to further stress and conflict. It is important to realize burn-out does not happen over night! It occurs over a long stretch and attacks us slowly.

What can we do to prevent getting burned out? Well perhaps the simplest solution is to eliminate or modify those things which cause us the most stress. Firstly, one must know their limits. Learn when to say “no” to taking on new commitments which you are not ready to handle. When you keep taking on these situations, you are more likely to be unhappy and start to take it out on others as well as yourself. Always make sure your goals are realistic and accomplishable. If you set unrealistic goals, they will only frustrate you and cause greater stress. Perhaps the best thing to do is prioritize your projects and obligations in an order of importance. Identify the demands placed on you and identify your strengths to meet those demands. Don’t let others bleed you physically, emotionally and mentally. Know when to say “when”. Sometimes when we give others a foot, they tend to take a mile! Always try to keep some time each day for yourself. Try to exercise or even walk regularly each day. Healthy mind will create healthy body! Get enough sleep to ensure optimal energy levels and eat, healthy, balanced meals. Always try to limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine consumption. Remember they are both drugs. One is a depressant and the other is a stimulant. They have the ability to change physical states in your body. They can really start to cause you sleep disturbances and energy lulls if your intake is high. Perhaps, the most important thing to remember is you have to assume responsibility for your own happiness, pleasure and relaxation. You are only human and you need a break too! Learn stress management skills which will optimize your daily living.