Lately, I’ve found myself feeling more and more burnt out. I’ve posted before about my path to burnout remission and, for the most part, that’s worked well for me. When that routine gets put to the wayside, though, those warning signs of burnout start creeping back in.
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Symptoms of Burnout
Unsurprisingly, burnout manifests in different ways for different people. Some of the most common burnout warning signs include feelings of cynicism, negativity, or detachment, irritability, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating. You might find yourself being less productive, missing work or other obligations, and feeling overwhelmed or like you’re “running on empty.”
Physically, you might deal with fatigue and overall lack of energy, headaches, aches and pains, or even stomach problems. Ignoring the symptoms of burnout is thought to lead to other, more serious health problems, like depression, anxiety, or cardiovascular disease.
I also have to remind myself that I didn’t know that I was autistic when writing that post and coming up with that plan. Autistic burnout is a whole other world, and ADHD comes with its own struggles, too.
Put simply, autistic burnout refers to the stress of living in a world designed for neurotypicals. It often comes to light as a period of extreme exhaustion and decreased functioning, especially after a stressful or overwhelming period. From talking to other neurodivergents, this tends to happen when our coping mechanisms can no longer keep up with the triggers they’re meant to compensate for. Often, it’s this time of burnout that leads to an adult diagnosis of autism or ADHD!
From my own experience and that of others I’ve connected with, the symptoms of autistic burnout are similar to those of general burnout. Warning signs of autistic burnout are similar, too, including social withdrawal, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness.
Coping with Burnout (All Over Again)
I’m still trying to stick to my burnout remission plan but, between coming to terms with my autism and ADHD diagnoses and struggling a bit with working full-time with chronic illness, that’s easier said than done.
To make up for that, I’m trying to implement some other strategies to combat burnout:
Working with healthcare providers.
I’ve been remarkably lucky when it comes to medical professionals, especially as someone with a slew of chronic illnesses. My PlushCare physician, in particular, is absolutely phenomenal!
I’m currently working through some specialists and tests to diagnose and treat some of my physical symptoms—a stressful time in itself. Sure, this adds to my schedule and mental load for the time being, but I hope some answers and treatment options help in the long run.
I‘m also working with my Talkspace therapist, both to adjust to life with autism, ADHD, and PTSD and to, in a sense, burnout-proof my life. She’s helping me to make some changes and find ways to really make my ideal life a reality.
Figure out what I can control.
If you’ve read other articles or blog posts about burnout, you’ve probably heard something about assessing the situation and determining what, if anything, you can control in it.
If the stressors leading to burnout are within our control, we can take steps to address them. If the stressors are outside of our control, we can seek out support from our loved ones or professionals. For me, I know there’s a combination of both—and I’m determined to sort through and solve them.
In particular, I plan to set some specific goals to improve those factors that might be in my control. Revamping my budget will be a significant one, I’m sure, as will prioritizing across my business, The Juliette Sebock Company.
Get more rest.
One of the physical health theories my doctors and I are working on settles on myalgic encephalitis as one of my primary conditions. Also (quite aptly) known as chronic fatigue syndrome, ME’s most significant symptom, for many, is severe fatigue. For about a year now, I consider a day with just one two-hour nap to be a “good day.”
Even if I don’t get a formal diagnosis of ME/CFS, I’m trying to get better at rest and pacing. It makes sense that a little extra rest (or better optimized rest) would help with burnout, too!
Upgrade my mindset.
Positivity is another concept frequently presented as one of the best cures for burnout. I’m wary of toxic positivity, and all too familiar with how far from positive a mind mid-burnout tends to be. Lately, I’ve been doing some mindset work around money, in particular, as I go through Denise Duffield-Thomas‘ work. I’m also applying these concepts and strategies like EFT tapping and visualization to other parts of my life. This might not be an overnight transformation but should get me closer to a positive mindset.
Overall, it’s hard to overcome burnout. We’re still dealing with the effects of COVID-19, political strife, and blatant inequality (ahem, capitalism). How can anyone really avoid the effects of all of the above? Add in chronic pain and health conditions? It’s difficult to avoid feeling hopeless.
Still, I’m determined to improve my burnout symptoms and, ultimately, my life as a whole. One step at a time, right?