Most of us have been there; we pushed and pushed and pushed until we couldn’t push any longer, or at minimum, our performance began to noticeably lack. I get it, we all want to test ourselves. For those with high drives in life, we keep testing our limits. But there is a fine line with this, just as there is with most things. The burn out is an important topic to talk about that impacts every aspect of our mental health. We often will burn out and not even realize it. Note there is a big difference from working hard consistently and grinding, versus reaching burn out.
Fuck the bullshit idea that praises we keep going until we collapse and have nothing left. Why? Why keep doing that with no legitimate or logical reason? Why push ourselves until we are just fucking done?! For most, the answer is not consciously known. For most, it’s because they subconsciously become psychologically dependent on the fuel the drive gives us and forget the importance of the recovery aspect. We ignore the signs of our limitations. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for certain things. From my military background, and not even being special operations or anything combat related, we would push and push and push, but there were times we had to. The ultimatum with choosing not to burn out would’ve resulted in a worse outcome. For the majority of us who aren’t in a position where we have to push those limits, if we want the best improvement for ourselves, we must avoid the burn out.
What is the burn out? What symptoms are signs of burn out, you might ask, well let’s delve into them briefly.
Fatigue, short term memory loss, increased stress, similarities to feeling delirious, forgetfulness, trouble sleeping, unregulated emotions, and brain fog are all symptoms we may experience when we are burnt out. If we were to put it into more simpler terms, that point where you are just sitting there and thinking to yourself, “Fuck man I’ve had enough. I don’t know how much more I can keep doing this“. I have an image of a person crawling and barely being able to move forward another inch (as to what burn out can look like). There are levels of burn out that we can come to. The worst of the worst is when our bodies and minds give us no choice but to stop, rest, and regroup. Basically, our being as a whole says, “Yup you’ve pushed me too far, fuck you we are going to rest now”. Some people see this path as an ultimate goal to push for, as if they have not accomplished something without burning out. That is absolutely not true. Knowing ourselves includes knowing that fine line. Burning out can result in more steps backwards than forwards. It will drain us physically, emotionally, and mentally. Sure, some can do it time and time again, but for how long? Till we put ourselves in our own graves? It’s possible (rhetorically speaking), so what’s the fucking point?
What do we do, how do we stop ourselves from burning out? Know thy self.
Know what we are capable of. Test the limits…push the limits… but discover and determine your boundaries before you crash. The grind we are all on is great, but implementing recovery in the process is equally as important to achieve the gain we are striving for. The gain we get from pushing the limits will never be achieved if we don’t allow ourselves to recover. Recovery is key. We wouldn’t want to keep working out a specific muscle day after day after day, so why do that with any other part of us or aspect in life? Adding variety can be helpful. One of the biggest things that can benefit someone is redefining their perspective.
For example, if I am at the gym (presuming I know my limitations) and I have the feeling of getting a solid workout in (or I’m close to it), then maybe I should stop and allow recovery to begin. The same would be if I am working on a huge proposal for work. If I know what the due date is and have ample amount of time to work on it, there isn’t a good reason to work on that proposal tirelessly into the late night, every day. Even though these are just single instances as analogies, it comes down to the collective with everything going on in our lives.
If day in and day out, I am in that “go mode” and I never take a moment to just be fucking present, that’ll lead to burn out sooner or later. Truthfully, burn out is often tied to a person being in the fight or flight mode constantly.
The moral behind all of this is to know yourself. Take care of yourself (in all areas). Slow the fuck down. Be present. Allow for recovery when needed, get good sleep, fix your perspectives when needed, know your limitations, and don’t burn out!
Until next time, stay frosty friends.
-UDC Wellness Expert, Matt Donnelly