May 20, 2021

How to Tell If You're Experiencing Burnout

How to Tell If You're Experiencing Burnout
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Post-pandemic life: What’s it going to look like? It may be unsettling for some, it may be exciting for others. As we begin to navigate what life looks like outside of pandemic times, it’s important to remember how we’re feeling when we’re operating in situations that aren’t aligned with who we are or what we need. When we are frequently working out of alignment with ourselves, it can lead to... burnout. 

Whatever the post-pandemic period looks like for you, our resilience has certainly been tested. I want you to feel proud of yourself and know that you’re doing your best. I hope that when you finish listening to this episode, you’ll be feeling a bit lighter and have some more forgiveness towards yourself  for all that has transpired and in your heart. 


[2:09] - Understanding burnout and what you might be feeling post-pandemic 

[6:33] -  How avoiding procrastination keeps our goals in sight

[7:16] - The emotional tug-of-war we play with our self-criticism 

[11:03] - Using gratitude to shift your energy


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Dr. Christine Li -




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Christine Li:

Welcome back to The make time for success podcast. This is Episode 23. Thank you so much for listening to the show. And to those of you who have offered your kind feedback about enjoying the interview episodes that have already aired. They have been a pleasure to create and I'm so grateful to you for listening, and to my guests for helping to make this kind of podcast magic happen. Today's episode is on the topic of burnout, that experience that we can have physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that makes us feel that we've lost the ability to create magic. I think this year has challenged us all. And I wanted to create this episode to offer some perspectives to think about on the topic of burnout, and to offer some ways to escape the experience of burnout whenever we can. Let's go listen to the episode. I hope you enjoy this one too. Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelmed so they could begin working to their potential. In this podcast if you're going to learn powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together so that you can focus on what's really important and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the make time for success podcast. Hi, my friends. In this episode, I would like to talk about how to recognize burnout, and how to address it. My reflections in this episode are really reflections of what I've seen in my clients, what they've gone through over the past year and what I also have experienced myself off and on over the past year of the pandemic. For this episode, I will use the word burnout to describe the downturn of energy, focus and mood that comes when we're operating in a situation that's just not aligned with us somehow it's too overwhelming. It's too demanding or it's not a good fit. pandemic times have brought us two points of exhaustion, fear, insecurity, interpersonal stress, and sometimes physical illness. And now we're in a period of hopefully transitioning out of the pandemic. But still, we don't have clear boundaries about what to expect. And still we have the demands of work that still managed to roll on. It's no wonder so many people are now talking about the topic of burnout. An article that I came across entitled The uneasy intimacy of work in a pandemic year by Constance Grady described how the pandemic caused us to stop seeing family and friends, we just stopped connecting with them. But we also were expected to continue working without questioning that at all. And having that work come completely into our homes without having additional support or resources. That article was really eye opening for me because we all kind of just accepted that this is what we needed to do. But of course, these things that we were expected to do really, were the underpinnings of the experiences of burnout that you may have experienced as well. So these are the things that I've noticed that have contributed to burnout in these pandemic times. Having to feel fearful, even of being near though people that we love the most. Having unhelpful ways of avoiding and procrastinating, like eating for comfort. Not feeling like we are able to rest or that we're deserving of rest because we need to work so hard. I myself felt the need to not take a vacation like I normally do during August and the end of the year because I was working with many patients who I feel needed my support. And I also couldn't figure out what to do for vacation. Where am I supposed to go? Maybe you had the same experience. Another situation that seems to accompany burnout is feeling unsure about what the future might look like or what opportunities might be available for us after the pandemic is over. Again that feeling like there's no structure There's no pathway, there may be some unclear goals. Another issue is feeling uncomfortable or not grateful for the good things that we were able to produce and make during the pandemic. Because there was little room to celebrate, there was less room for gathering, we lost the ability to throw a party. So on balance, even though we've been working and working towards our goals, perhaps on hole, we feel that the effect might be on the negative side. Another factor is not reminding ourselves about our larger, longer term goals. We forget what is grounding us in our efforts and our work when we're staring at the same four walls. And one last thing about symptoms of burnout is that we can feel burnout, even when things are going spectacularly well. Because the feeling that we have to do more and more and more is happening and that we're busy, and they're more opportunities can really make us feel stressed and tired. So now that I've gone through all the different symptoms that I've seen, that may have contributed to burnout in you or in your loved ones, I want to go through some prevention tips that I've come up with, to help you protect yourself from experiencing future burnout. The first tip I have is basically my go to tip and that is to avoid procrastinating coach yourself to keep your goals in mind. But make sure that you're keeping them close to you don't avoid them, instead of avoiding them, get closer to them. take steps one by one, even the smallest tiniest, snail's pace kind of steps towards your goal, because that's going to be feeding you. And that's going to give you the gift of feeling like you're making progress. And then you're going to avoid that downward spiral of procrastination. It's a real mood killer, so avoid procrastinating. The second tip is to ease up on the self criticism, just eliminate it if you can. In my mind, self criticism is like playing tug of war, a game that I never really understood it in grade school. Because it was a whole lot of effort, and a whole lot of sore hands on my part. In the end, when we self criticize, we're essentially dragging our own energy backwards and downwards, just like in tug of war. And then we have to gear up again to attempt to move forward again. So if you just decide upfront not to suffer through that emotional tug of war, you're going to end up having more energy to start off with and maybe even some more to spare. That third prevention tip that I have for you is to ease up on the pressure. I think the reason why therapy appointments are every week is that about every seven days, everyone needs a reminder to ease up on the pressure we're putting ourselves under and to kind of take a break from the pressure that other people might be putting on us. I don't believe that we were built to withstand unyielding long term stress. And that's why I also think the pandemic has been so brutal. For so many of us emotionally this past year. The pandemic has asked us to tap our resilience skills far too long and far too often. So remember that your future self is watching out for you now remind yourself of what your efforts are for how would your future self appreciate your efforts of showing up during the pandemic. Even though you were afraid even though you were tired, even though you wanted to give up. So just be proud of yourself for trying to do your best. Don't overdo it. Ease up on the pressure and know that you are winning just by trying. Don't judge yourself on how slow the projects might be moving forward. Just be proud of yourself for showing up during these pandemic times. And for keeping the pace Be kind to yourself ease up on the pressure. The fourth tip that I have for you is to finish the things you start which of course is a cousin of the first tip of avoid procrastination. Know that sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we don't have enough energy to finish tasks when really just one last bit of a push can actually help us to finish what we're doing and conserve Our overall energy because we then don't have to restart the project all over again to finish it. So if you're midway in a project right now, I'm encouraging you to just go the distance, so that you can wrap it up, tie it up, let it go. Okay, so allow yourself to feel that cycle of completion when you're working. The fifth tip is to find a real break for yourself. Now, this is really a burnout tip, if I've ever heard one, you need to use your vacation time just to take that break, you need to change your routine or skip a meeting. If it's not that meaningful or consequential for you to miss it. You need to try shortening timeframes for your projects during the course of the day, get more walks, get more time outside, to get more TV breaks, if you need them, ask for coverage, take those shortcuts, and find those real breaks. And perhaps the biggest tip is my last tip, and that is to use gratitude. Gratitude has a very amazing way of shifting our energy higher, immediately. And quickly. Once we start thinking about how we're grateful for what we're able to do. We just feel lighter, at least that's my experience. And I know that's the experience of many of the people that you've heard me interview on this podcast and many of the people that I hang out with, if you are dreading something that is actually really dreadful, you can use this tip to make things lighter. If you're finding that your work is incredibly difficult, you can then say, Oh, I'm actually grateful that I've a private space to do this organ that I can concentrate. So you want to use your smart brain to make your difficult work more easier. So be grateful that you have that mind that can get you out of a tough situation. Turn your attention into a new direction, allow your mind and your body and your energy to detach for a bit get refocused in a way that might suit you a little bit better. So that may be a little bit of work. But it can also just make some more room for plays for relaxation. And for a little bit of fun. So now the wrap up phase. For this episode, I'm going to tell you that I think it's not an accident that it's been inside this pandemic year, that I came up with this realization that we have two different kinds of energy at least Of course, we have so many different kinds of energy, but the kinds of energy that I want to focus on our one, our life energy and to our daily willpower energy. I learned about the daily energy from a book called willpower, which I highly recommend it was really entertaining to read, really informative, and educational for me. And I learned that we only have a limited amount of energy each day to us. And that's what we call our willpower. And I have learned about the second type of energy about life energy from working with different mentors of mine. Over the past four years or so, mentors like Melanie Moore, and Elizabeth Pasquali. These are women that you've heard in my past episodes on the podcast. So how do we work with these two types of energy? I want to say that no matter how burned out you feel that I want you to never give up on your life energy. Know that that life energy that sustains you can be reignited at any time. It is always there to support you. It's always there for your survival and well being. And the way I think to nurture that powerful energy source that you have is to take care of your daily source of energy, your willpower so be mindful, be realistic. Forgive yourself quickly get a lot of rest. Take your breaks, keep a sense of balance and perspective. Even if you have to trick yourself a bit to do so. So balance your willpower, protect your willpower protect your time and energy and then always rely on that big life energy that is fueling you from within and from without. I wish you all the best in this effort and I hope that if you are currently feeling the burnout that this Episode helped you and that you recover from it quickly and as you need to. Finally, I want to leave you with a quote that was shared with me by one of my community members, I have a community called the freedom from procrastination, membership. And so one of my members, Sherry said, there was a quote from the alchemist that I would like to share with you. Now, the secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve upon the present, what comes later will also be better. May we all come out of these pandemic times? Well, I wish you all the best rest up, heal up, recover your sense of well being. And then let's start again together. I will be here supporting you. Take care. Thank you for listening to this episode of The make time for success podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website make time for success for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. Talk to you soon.