Burnout & Boundaries: Knowing when enough is enough
How much more can I give?
How much more can I do?
How much more can I take?
These questions can be haunting and feel unanswerable. More so, it can be defeating when the answer never comes. Finding ways to maintain and restore energy can help sustain the busy and hectic lives that have become normal in our society. It can be difficult, but recognizing burnout is the best first step.
BURNOUT: WHEN IT STARTS TO FEEL LIKE TOO MUCH
It happens so fast. You start taking on different roles (such as husband, wife, boss, employee) that keep you busy, pay the bills, and maintain your relationships. It could be a new job, a new relationship, or a new friend group. Sometimes within the roles you fill are even more roles (such as having multiple responsibilities within one job). Things go well for a while, but then you start to run out of fuel.
Knowing personal limits is the first step in being able to set healthy boundaries. How do you know where to make cuts or modifications if you don’t even know there is a problem?
Limits can be reached when there’s nothing left to give, but there are still responsibilities to attend to. Each role and responsibility consumes energy. Running on empty can result in higher levels of stress and burnout. Burnout is the exhaustion, lack of patience, and feeling down that comes from long periods of stress.
BOUNDARIES: WHEN YOU’VE REACHED YOUR LIMIT
There are many of ways to prevent burnout and create healthy boundaries to conserve energy and take care of yourself. A few examples include: having your needs met from the work you do, carving out time for self-care, and using your support system.
Figure out if what you’re doing is meeting your needs
Getting what you need from the work you do can be a great step in not getting burned out. It can be easy to just think about the money or the title with the job. However, understanding what you gain from the job you do can be helpful in knowing if something needs to change. So here are some questions to find out if your needs are being met at work:
- Can I be myself?
- Is my work rewarding?
- Do I know what’s really going on?
- Is my work meaningful?
- Is my work emphasizing my strengths?
Each person will be different in how many of these questions they want to answer “yes” to. If many of the answers are “yes,” then the chances of burnout may be less likely. If most or all the answers are “no,” maybe there are some changes that can happen to increase the number “yes” answers. Having a healthy work environment will only help in decreasing stress and preventing burnout.
Take care of yourself
Think about what relaxes you. Is it reading a good book, going on a trip, or binging a show on Netflix? Finding ways to let go of the stress of the day can restore energy levels to tackle the day-to-day responsibilities. If self-care isn’t a priority, recharging is difficult. Then, you’re left on empty with mounting responsibilities.
Having a support system is important for a variety of reasons. Friends, family, and significant others can provide an outlet when life feels overwhelming. It’s also just as important to find a healthy support system. Healthy supports are the people who love, encourage, and challenge you to help you grow. Sometimes life can be too much to handle by yourself. Talking to friends or family is another way to prevent burnout.
There are many different ways to help fight burnout. The important thing is to find what works for you. For more ideas, check out these other resources or more from our blog:
Contributed by Lindsay Perry, M.Ed, LPC Intern #79863
Clinical Supervision by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S