6 Subtle Signs You’re Burned Out and in Desperate Need of Self-Care
Self-care is not a luxury!
It is a critical part of finding the energy and brainpower you need to navigate life. It is nonnegotiable for brilliance and resilience. And it is the ultimate burnout antidote.
You need physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy to be your best you. Self-care renews these energies and provides the fuel for effective, resilient leadership; energized, wise parenting; and meaningful, adult relationships.
Happy mitochondria equals happy brain cells equals a smarter/happier/healthier you.
Unfortunately, our culture has taught us, even rewarded us, for delaying and ignoring self-care in the pursuit of “success.” And in the process, we learned to disconnect the “check-engine” lights that signal even the most basic self-care needs.
Heck, long before the obvious growling stomach, or pounding head, there are many subtle signs that your brain or body is requesting some fuel of some sort to keep up job performance.
Awareness of these lets you make on-the-fly and long-term adjustments that will help you avoid a lot of stress! Awareness equals the opportunity to adjust which equals proactive stress management.
Here are six signs you’re about to burn out and need self-care, immediately:
1. You are making dumb mistakes.
What are you thinking? (Answer: You’re not!) Unfortunately, without fuel, your frontal lobe fails its executive leadership job. And stress compounds this by taking away its blood flow.
Misfiring brain cells are desperate for some version of energy. Get curious when you make mistakes. What do you really need?
2. You get stuck in the weeds.
Having trouble prioritizing or keeping the big picture in mind? Holding priorities, keeping perspectives are frontal lobe duties. In the middle of “hangry” or emotionally or mentally spent, you really can’t effectively weigh choices or see possibilities.
Use “stuck” as a cue to do an energy check-in. Take a deep breath, move, look out the window, or better yet walk outside or call a friend.
3. You feel kind of “judge-y.”
Really? Do you want to be that person? You know you are more critical, more negative when something in you is “off”. And you know judging never actually leaves you feeling better.
Let negativity be your indicator light. Again, check in. What do you need to get back your happier outlook?
4. Your inner critic is very loud!
Would you talk to your best friend that way? This is just you getting “judge-y” and negative with yourself! The brakes are off and that go-to voice that has motivated you for years takes over.
Thank that voice for alerting you that you need something, and then figure out what it is.
5. Your language is more colorful.
Need to pay the quarter jar? You guessed it!. Irritability is the most common external sign of stress and in cahoots with impatience and go-to colorful or negative language.
Pay the quarter, and then get curious. What’s really draining your patience and what do you need to get it back?
6. Everything feels like a problem.
“The problem with that is . . .”, it can take a while to realize that you are making mountains out of molehills or feeling like every step of the day requires too much effort. This is not your energized creative problem solver mode! It is your “barely hanging on” zone.
Think back over your week. Where are you on the slogging through problems to “piece of cake!” spectrum? What’s your story about your circumstances? Dig under that story to find what you really need.
Some signs and symptoms of energy depletion are fairly universal, but you may also have your own special indicators.
The key is to build awareness and create habits for refueling. It doesn’t have to be a major overhaul. Every tiny tweak you make in your day can add up to happier, smarter, healthier you.
- Build your own dashboard for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy.
- Create a habit of accountability to checking in with your dashboard.
- Have a strategy session with yourself to give self-care its proper place in your life . . . supporting your best you!
Move those subtle signs into the spotlight and use them to end your personal energy shortages. Model self-care as leadership. Teach your children to manage their energy. Support cultures of well-being. And leverage the science and art of you to live your best life!