Have you ever gone through a time when you simply… couldn’t work?
It wasn’t like you don’t WANT to work. It was that you couldn’t. You’d stare at your computer screen motionless; like everything froze inside you. It wasn’t depression, not quite. And it wasn’t laziness, not even close. You were stressed and panicked because you had so much to do, and yet… you couldn’t bring yourself to do it.
This is a phenomenon known as burnout, and it’s something that professionals deal with every single day, including countless women. I’m sure that you’ve had faced burnout at one point or another in your career. You might be dealing with it right now! But one thing that isn’t often recognized is that burnout can be a gateway to binge eating, as well as many other self-destructive behaviors.
What Are The Symptoms of Burnout?
While the symptoms of burnout can vary, depending on your exact circumstances and how extreme it is, here are some of the most common:
- Changes to personal habits (eating, sleeping, sex drive)
- Feeling overwhelmed, helpless, confused, frustrated
- Filled with negativity
- Increased anger, hostility, and anxiety
- Increased depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of motivation
- A longing for things to be different
One other significant symptom is increased substance use. This can include alcohol, drugs, or, of course, food. You may also turn to numbing behaviors such as shopping or technology.
What Causes Burnout
Burnout can happen when you put yourself last.
Let me explain. Most of us live in a state of perpetual burnout, but we don’t realize it. We run up against a wall and, instead of actually dealing with the reason it’s there, we run into it again and again. It’s called the “daily grind,” and it’s considered to be a badge of honor for many people. Stress builds and builds and we may not even realize it. I call it living in “high freeze.”
Years ago, I rarely took time off. I thought that I didn’t have a choice. After all, if I wasn’t there, I couldn’t ensure that things would always go smoothly. And if I did take some time off, I would have to work all the harder once I got back, having to respond to a build-up of emails and projects. I started to resent my staff, as they wisely took time off for family, friends, relaxation, and vacation. Sure, I could have taken some necessary time off too, but I had fallen into a trap. I allowed myself to become a martyr/victim by setting an unhealthy standard for my staff.
This burnout behavior drastically started to affect the quality of my life. Not only was I experiencing some of the symptoms that I mentioned above, but I also had no idea how to get myself out of this hole I dug myself into. It wasn’t until I woke up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation in my chest (which I discovered was heartburn) that I knew something had to change.
It Boils Down to Work-Life Balance
Ah, yes, that old chestnut!
Work-life balance gets talked about a lot (much of it lip service), but finding the proper balance can genuinely make a significant difference in your life and happiness.
I think a common misconception with work-life balance is that it needs to be 50-50. The reality is that the balance is different for everyone. Rather than try in vain to force yourself to stop working, instead, ask yourself some important questions:
- Am I taking on more than I need to?
- Are there any tasks I could delegate?
- Is there any part of me that’s playing the martyr or victim?
- Do I have any unresolved feelings about letting go of responsibilities?
- What about taking time off?
- How do I feel about slowing down?
To be productive in your work, you NEED downtime. It increases creativity, connection, inner peace, and inspiration. Moreover, downtime can encourage you to pursue better habits. When you’re happier and less stressed, your eating habits will improve without you having to put a considerable effort into it.
Burnout is simply a reality of the workplace nowadays, contributing to binge eating and other bad habits. If you want to get a closer look at some of the reasons we binge eat, I highly suggest you read my new book “Break Through Binge Eating.”
“Break Through Binge Eating’’contains a lot more about burnout, overworking, the reasons we binge eat, and more. Click here to purchase it now!