A work related burnout can happen at any time!
Time moves along for us all. Have you ever gotten so caught up in your work that you forget to take the time to just enjoy your life? For some, it is the material things that are important. Do this and I can get that in-ground pool installed, or this years upgrade to a new car, bigger house…the possibilities are endless. Maybe you, like me, are working all the overtime you can get just to keep the home you have, food on the table and the car or truck running for just one more year. Till things get better.
Work related burnout can and does happen to us all.
Wonderful to be able to have an in ground pool and decide to add a 10 person hot tub next to it. Wonderful to know that for your children’s 16th birthday you can get them the new car they want. Nothing better than telling your loved ones to “Pack up, we’re going to Cancun for the weekend!”
Terrible to have to choose between a bike for your 10 year old or getting the summer pass at the public pool. Terrible when the car you can afford for your 16 year old is going to cost you hours of labor and duct tape to keep it running. Nothing worse than telling the kids, “Maybe next year we can go to the beach for a few days.”
Two extremes. Most of us fall somewhere in between the two but the pressures are always on us. And so, we work. Sometimes the work just takes over and we run a real risk of damaging our health and we overlook the important things in life. I’m no different. I get caught up in the “work” of being alive and I forget to take the time for me. The time to allow the mind to process, the time to allow the body to rest. I call it burning out.
And here I go in flames
Over the last few weeks, I’ve allowed myself to burn out. The days run together and the nights are filled with uneasy sleep. The mind rushes and I never seem to make any progress. Kinda funny, really. One of the many things I do is write a blog on relaxation and meditation and here I am. Stressed and worn down mentally and physically. Thru the week, I work third shift and Thursday nights are my Fridays. I usually stay up on Friday and try to get a lot accomplished at home and online. By 5:30 or so on Friday evening I head to bed, I have a wonderful, exciting life don’t I?
Last Friday was pretty rough. Glitches on my websites, a couple of missed potential contacts for sales, and some unexpected late emails from new friends and I found myself a frazzled and irritated. I finally just turned the computer off in the middle of answering an email, placed the cell on mute and went to bed. I didn’t take my own advice; no before bed ritual or routine, no meditation and I did not bother with dumping out the negatives of the day. Just got in bed where I spent most of the night restless and tossing.
Saturday morning, I was grouchy and still irritated. And finding my cell phone battery dead didn’t help. After breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee, I went outside to just get away from it all. Looking at my mule pen overgrown with weeds almost covering my fence did not help. Jack does not play well with others and is an expert at going thru, over and under fences. I have managed to keep him contained by building a wood fence, re-enforced with tin and with electric wire strands about 18 inches inside his pen. Weeds will ground out the electric fence and give Jack the chance to work on taking down the tin and wood rails. Not a good thing.
Cause and effect. My weed eater broke for the last time this spring and now the weeds are taking over. Time to go old school and use a sling blade. I turned the fence charger off and got to work, clearing the fence line and repairing the fencing. Jack, of course, wanted to watch and well, just be the ass that he is. It took about 3 hours to get the pen into reasonable shape. With no electronic devices to distract me, and no gas motor running, I could hear the birds, the chickens, geese, ducks, and all the other natural sounds when you live on a hobby farm.
As a kid, I had plenty of experience using a sling blade but that was years and years ago. Strange how the body just remembers and falls into a natural rhythm and the mind can go where it wishes. As I worked physically, I began considering and weighing options that the day before had seemed overwhelming. Today, I began prioritizing and sorting them into patterns, all without the stress. Just going with the flow of using the sling blade and patching fence. A natural meditation with exercise.
The hours passed quickly. I had burned off a lot of stress and excess energy. I put the tools away, turned on the fence charger and had a discussion with Jack about who should touch the fence to make sure it was working. Neither one of us wanted to, so we agreed to take it on faith and left well enough alone. I went inside and got a bottle of ice tea and a couple of back and body aspirin. Getting old sucks big time.
On the way out I picked up the cell phone but stopped myself from checking any social media or my websites. Enough is enough. Let it go for the day. I sat on the back stoop and just sipped tea and listened to nature and enjoyed the afternoon. Even took a few photos but other than that, I let the mind just do its thing in the background and selected the thoughts I wished to pursue. Late Saturday afternoon, I had a better picture in mind for my online direction and I felt calm and collected.
After a shower and supper, I spent some quiet time watching TV with my wife and kids. Light talk and just spending the evening with the ones who are important. At bed time, I followed my usual routine and slept deeply and soundly. I woke up Sunday not only rested and calm, but with a clearer picture of my new direction. I still have a lot to do, but a plan and a path is taking shape.
So why settle for a 10 person hot tub when the 15 person one would hold more friends? And why get the kid a bike when maybe you could work a deal for an old all terrain vehicle that the family can fix up and enjoy together? Let go of the stress and allow the mind to freely examine the options with no directions from you. Just monitor and pick out the good, leave the rest behind.
On my Monday, I took a trip back into the distant past and re-lived the Doobie Brothers performing “Listen to the Music” on the Midnight Special in 1973. Some feel good music I want to share with you.
Do you recognize any of the warning signs before you get burned out? Or does it just build up in the background until you crash, like I did? I would love to hear what you do to not only prevent burn out but how you cope with it if it does happen. No worries, plenty of space for your comments, questions and thoughts!
Walking the Path of Peace,