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Burnouts Are More Painful than Stepping on a Lego

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

You’re lying in your bed, unaware of your surroundings while your phone right next to you lights up with texts and reminders highlighting the fact that you have quite a few deadlines and society meetings lined up. You ignore them; you have given up physically and mentally and are on the brink of giving up. ‘Burnt out’ is the word we use for a situation like this. According to the Oxford dictionary, a burnout can be defined as ‘the ruin of one’s health or complete exhaustion due to overwork.’

The problem is that we are living in a world where competition is at its peak, the race is real and we’re forced to think about failure more than success. Overexertion becomes a part of our lives to ‘succeed’. We have this fear of failing and if we don’t work excessively, the empty CV hanging above our head will lead to our downfall. What we do not realise is that overexertion wil eventually break us. When a person feels mentally and physically tired, they are on the road to burnout and when the person gives up completely, they are going through that burnout.

While we are all a part of a never-ending race where we are hustling 24×7, we need to think about ourselves as individuals. Everyone wants to succeed in life but success will only come your way with a work-life balance. You cannot succeed while taking your mental as well as physical health for granted by overloading yourself with work. The gap between challenging yourself and overworking is vast. Unfortunately, you end up pushing yourself to the limit. Overworking is just working until you’re weary and unable to think properly, whereas challenging yourself is about taking things one step further every time. You might think taking a day off and not completing your task is unproductive, it’s the other way round. It is a form of catharsis and will help you become more efficient the next day because your mind and brain will be well-rested. You will work better and with ease.

I always hear people saying they are overly exhausted; the burnout is real and they feel helpless. Burnouts may be treated more easily if the underlying cause is identified. Take some time to think and discover what is causing the problem because once you’re aware of the cause, the cure will become clear too. Just don’t give up, quitting halfway might not solve anything. “I will fight this” should be your go-to inspirational phrase.

The good kind of stress is known as ‘eustress’. It drives one to complete the task at hand. A certain amount of stress is required but when this stress starts increasing beyond a point, it becomes the point of culmination for a burnout. That’s when eustress can turns into distress which can threaten your mental as well as physical health.

When I went through a burnout, I was confused for a week as to what was going on with me. I was physically and mentally exhausted. Sleep became my solace and slowly I stopped being productive. After a week of crying and lying around doing nothing, I got a surge of motivation to get up and go for a walk. That is how you start. If you want to get out of this slump, start with the thing you like to do. This will help to break the chain of nothingness and the fatigue you’ve been facing. Take things one step at a time, focus on yourself. Being productive doesn’t mean working or studying, it can also include things you love to do. Start by doing something for 15 minutes and increase the time at your own pace.

Once I was partially out of my non-productive phase , I started dividing my day according to my needs. I segregated the day into the work I had to do and the break I had to take with a seven-hour sleep schedule. This made my routine better and the over-exertion went down to zero.

Learn the word ‘no’ and set boundaries for yourself, say ‘no’ when the work in front of you is beyond your capacity. Boundaries exist to restrict you from going overboard so that you don’t throw yourself at every opportunity that comes your way but choose the ones which can help you grow and network at your own pace. Making time for yourself is the most important thing you can do as an individual. Although it’s easier said than done, once you follow some of these steps you will see a difference.

Coming out of the burnout phase is a difficult and slow process. Nevertheless, if you prioritise yourself and your needs, it will lead to a mental and physical equilibrium that your body requires. You will get burnt out at least once in your lifetime which is good enough to prepare you for any future occurences. This phase will also make you aware of your needs and help you fo understand yourself better which will eventually lead to self-actualization. Therefore, take a deep breath, take some time off and soon you’ll be back to the cheerful version of yourself that you used to be.

Lekha Nath

Delhi South '23

Lekha is a student of literature at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. She is at an age where she is free to explore any arena, and she likes to record her experiences in her trusty ol' journal. She goes by the tagline- "Just keep swimming". She is just another human with a journal trying to keep up with the ever-changing world. :)
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