Just last week, I experienced that all-too-familiar feeling at my career. It’s that feeling that comes around once or twice a year for me.
The burnout feeling.
The moment it hit me, I found myself walking out of the elevator to head to yet another meeting and I felt like I was just floating around in a haze. I wasn’t entirely sure what meeting I was headed to next. I could feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into my workload pit every moment I was in these meetings and away from my desk, feeling almost paralyzed by my to-do list.
Once I realized that the burnout feeling was creeping in, I stopped for a moment and counted back the months since I’ve been on a vacation.
I realized it had been right at 6 months.
Six months of the same schedule, same commute, and same cubicle. Six months of a never-ending, compounding, and constantly fluctuating workload. Six months of pressure, responsibility, and decision-making. No wonder I was feeling that way!
Because I’ve experienced this feeling several times before, I was able to recognize the signs of a burnout much more quickly. Likewise, because I know that I need to take at least two vacations every year to maintain my mental health, I felt completely validated that I was feeling this way when I realized it had been six months since my last vacation.
If you haven’t made your work-life balance a priority in the past, recognizing the signs of a burnout can be difficult when you’re already experiencing one, so keep reading for some tell-tale signs to help you judge your current mental state and why a vacation is the only cure that you need.
Sign #1: You’re struggling to keep up.
You’re accustomed to being the productive high achiever who is known for over-delivering on quality, but nowadays you’re behind on emails, down to the wire on several deadlines, and you don’t really have a personal life.
You’re walking around in a haze, wondering how you have successfully kept all of your balls in the air so far, and constantly questioning whether you’ve forgotten something. Your head is spinning at the thought of the to-do list you have at both work and at home, and you feel like there’s no way to make everything happen with the limited amount of time that you have.
Contrary to feeling like you literally don’t have the option to take a break, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by continuing to trudge along without a vacation. The longer you continue in this state, the harder it will be to take a vacation because your clients and colleagues have come to expect that you are connected and available all of the time. Likewise, the longer you continue in this state, the more compounded your to-do list will become, and the best thing that you can do for your productivity is to give yourself a break.
Sign #2: You’re just plain tired.
You find yourself feeling utterly drained by the afternoon and want to crawl in bed as soon as you get home, though you can’t because you’ll be working until bedtime. You are likely eating out at restaurants for convenience and can’t remember the last time that you exercised because who has time for that? Even if you are able to get a solid 7+ hours of sleep every night, you’re going to bed with a slight twinge of dread for the next day and dreaming about work too.
Whether or not your physical state is being affected, the thing about burnouts is that they are mostly mental.
You’re mentally drained because you’re choosing to continue to function at a high-level with very little breaks to recharge yourself. You’re mentally tired because your brain is constantly juggling a multitude of tasks. If you also aren’t taking care of your physical body, then the exhaustion will be compounded and you’ll be left with very little energy.
Sign #3 – You’re finding little to zero joy in your work.
There was some underlying reason why you accepted your position at your career. Whether it was for personal growth and fulfillment, advancing your skillset, or feeling like you could make difference, something positive attracted you to your career. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you were excited when you started and have experienced at least little moments of happiness in the work that you’ve been doing.
So what changed? Does everyone on your team now get on your last nerve? Is project management “no longer” for you? Do you suddenly feel like you don’t even care about the work you’re doing? Before you answer those questions, consider the phrase:
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Taking a girls’ weekend away from your partner can allow you the space to come back home with a renewed sense of excitement and joy towards your partner. Likewise with a human relationship, allowing yourself to take a break from your career can allow you the space to come back to your career with a refreshed mind and understanding of why you’re showing up in the first place.
It’s Time to Take a Vacation
If you are experiencing any of the above signs, there’s a good chance that you are either close to or already experiencing a burnout from your career. This may cause you to reason with yourself that you don’t enjoy your work anymore, or make you feel like you’ll never be able to catch back up, but before you take these feelings as actual fact, I’ve got a quick and harmless suggestion for you.
Allow yourself to take a break and go on vacation.
We don’t function at our best when we’re doing the same thing every single day for months and months, and we need a break from our normal routines to reset ourselves back to our prime state. Two days off from work on the weekends – assuming that you use these days for personal time – are flat out not enough time to recharge yourself like a vacation can.
Taking a vacation can give you the mental recharge you need to fight off an impending burnout.
Taking a vacation can give you the space to realize why you chose your career in the first place and bring back the joy and excitement that you used to have.
Taking a vacation can signal to your colleagues and clients that you prioritize your mental well-being and reset your mind for enhanced productivity upon your return.
If the thought of planning a vacation seems like another thing on your personal to-do list, you can hire a travel advisor to handle all of the planning, organizing, and booking for you.
Choosing to work with a travel advisor to plan your vacation can help you feel great by:
- Allowing you to feel excited and giddy for your vacation instead of feeling like it’s another to-do on your list
- Taking away the overwhelm and frustration it takes to sort out all of the details of your vacation
- Feeling supported that there is someone who is personally looking out for the outcome of your vacation.
I’m a custom travel advisor who specializes in personalized vacations for the burnt out and busy professional. Get a taste for what it’s like to work one-on-one with me by signing up for a free consultation where I help you take the first steps in making your vacation a reality. I help you understand how you want to feel on your next vacation and recommend vacation experiences that are a perfect match for your travel style and budget.
Get to know Angela from Wild Hair Travels.