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I've just realised I might be 'burning out'- any advice from those who've been there?

(5 Posts)
AboveTheOxbow Mon 24-Feb-14 20:01:26

I am 36 and have been working and studying (minus maternity leaves) since I left university. I have always been good at what I do, gained good (doctoral) qualifications and been full of energy and enthusiasm for my work. It is intellectually and emotionally challenging but I have always enjoyed the job and feel that I have made a success of my career so far.

In the past couple of years I have established my own practice and have pursued other qualifications. This has been on top of looking after my daughter and my son (2) who has been quite unwell (in and out of hospital). My husband works in the City (70+ hours per week) but we have good childcare and I've always coped well.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been under the weather but I've also started to feel what I think might be 'burnout'. It's not stress, I don't feel stressed at all and I don't feel depressed. I just feel like I don't really care about work (like 'ennui'), I just want to be at home and I am struggling to think clearly (and write an assignment, answer phone messages etc.). I assumed it was a bit of SAD, but the recent sunny weather, although it has cheered me up has not reignited my enthusiasm at all. To be honest, if someone told me I could walk away from it all and spend a week in the park reading a book, I'd say 'yes please!'

This feeling is completely alien to me. I am normally very enthused and focused about work. Does it sound like burnout or am I making a meal out of nothing. And if it is then, help, what do I do?!

notthegruffalo Tue 25-Feb-14 03:15:24

I had a similar problem, after being very career focussed I suddenly forgot why I cared. A long story, but eventually realised I was suffering from complete exhaustion - years of working long hours, rarely going on holiday, etc. It all bolt up and I had to take a few months off work, unplanned, which was obviously hardly ideal.

Can you take a sabbatical? Or take an extended holiday? I think the hard thing is not being able to judge yourself by your previous high standards. You need to reassess how work fits into your life, and how much time you have for other, nurturing activities.

A few years down the line, I have got my mojo back and now fully appreciate what I do but am also more choosy about how I work and the projects I work on. Whereas I used to slightly martyr myself to work, now I make sure my self worth is based on other things, and am no longer proud of working long hours or being a high achiever.

idinnehaveaclue Tue 25-Feb-14 08:31:56

It's your inner voice talking. Listen to it and decide what you 'want' to do right now.

Just because you have always been a high achiever does not mean that you have to continuously do that until the day you die. You might just need to step off for a while or you may need to step off permanently. Only you will know what is right for you.

There's no shame in taking a break. In fact, if I were employing someone I'd admire them for being something other than a robot.

doodlemum Tue 25-Feb-14 19:30:54

This does sound like burnout to me. And I am pretty sure it is what happened to me about a year ago. I lost interest, had a bitch of a boss and could not motivate myself at all. I did actually end up with depression and anxiety, though tricky to say how the two were related.

I totally agree that this could well be your inner voice, and if so, it would not be wise to ignore it.

I requested (and got) a period of unpaid leave. I am due back soon but am planning on resigning as I don't think I can bring myself to do the job. Google " bullshit job David graeber" and that explains my situation quite well!

Good luck. And if you do manage to get some time out, make sure you do indeed take a book to the park!

AboveTheOxbow Wed 26-Feb-14 11:40:33

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I was beginning to wonder if it was just me!

I'm at the stage where I know that something is not right, but I don't know what it is yet and think that I have just taken on too much. I am looking to have a bit of time out next year; working part time and having a break from studying. Hopefully I'll then get my momentum back and if not, perhaps that's not the end of the world.

DH and my mum have tried offering lots of practical solutions to get me through the next few months of projects, then I'm having a quiet couple of months over the summer.

Ploughing through my assignment at the moment, with lots of tiny goals to get to the 4000 words! The sun is shining and I will walk down to collect my daughter from school at the end of the day for a little break smile

Interesting article about bullshit jobs- they can't be good for the soul. I used to be a nursery teacher, and in many ways it was the most rewarding work I've done.

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