What is Burnout and How to Reignite

Many of us may not realize it, but we all experience this at some point. Maybe it’s at the end of cramming for and taking 5 exams, the finale of a faltering relationship, or the aftermath of a major life transition. Maybe it will come after University when we’re job hunting in a recession or attempting to rediscover ourselves all over again.
Regardless of our personal experiences, we will all have lows accompanying our highs and frustrating plateaus accompanying our successes. It’s a great skill to learn how to recognize and accept these lows and plateaus, to appreciate and learn from them, and then to have a way of moving forward with even greater clarity and conviction than before. It’s also helpful to get a handle on this now, before burnout is knocking at your door during midterms.
1. Recognize and Accept                                   
Sometimes when you feel down and out – there’s a tendency to fight it, to make excuses for it, or to distract yourself from it in some way. Having tried each of these fantastic strategies many times myself, I can honestly say they pale in comparison to the words in bold above.
I’ve found it’s much better to recognize that I’m not running at full steam and not to dwell on it, but to simply accept it for what it is.
After 4 months of full-time employment at the First-Year Office, I finished summer off with a 60-hour work week culminating in Frosh Leader Trainings, Discover McGill, and running Street Fest. Instead of fighting the fact that I was exhausted or distracting myself from it by going crazy with back-to-school partying, I recognized I was beat and just accepted it – and because I did, so did the people around me. Now I can say I’m back to health and sanity, whereas I might not be if I’d gone another route.
It may sound simple, but through genuinely recognizing and accepting right where we are, we can stand fully on our own two feet without needing a crutch or resisting what we actually feel. We need to give ourselves some credit for earning that feeling, and then we can move on to steps 2 & 3 below.
2. Appreciate and Learn
When we’re feeling up and look down from that treeless peak of success, we will still see that growth occurs in the valleys. Our lows create and define our highs. This is why we should be grateful for them – that’s right, grateful.
This is because anytime we burn out, mess up, or find ourselves in uncomfortable situations – it’s an opportunity for an incredible learning experience. What’s more, if we were always coasting the success super highway, we would become stagnant, complacent, and painfully uninteresting.
So really, other than coasting uselessly along, there are no failures – there are only opportunities to learn and progress. Empowering, isn’t it?
3. Accelerating forward
“OK, I’ve said I feel like crap, and I’ve appreciated and learned from it… thanks for that, but now what? What does this have to do with achieving anything?”
You’re right. The steps above deal more with our mindset than actions we can take to see direct, tangible results. So, here is an actionable exercise to help you accelerate forward (regardless of whether you’re at your lowest or highest):
First, you’ll need some paper and a pen. Now, do a mental dump of everything on your mind. Write it all down, regardless of how ridiculous or trite. If you’ve never done this before, it will be the most enlightening few minutes of your life.
Next, cross out the things you have no control over.
From what’s left, star the 5-10 most important things.
Then, out of those, circle the 3 that you can take action on right now. Do those things one at a time and forget everything else until you finish them.
Rinse and repeat until you have a blank piece of paper and you’d be amazed at what happens.
I know this exercise has worked for me and I hope it serves you, too. I’d love to hear any comments or results, so drop me a line below!
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