Beating burnout: It’s more than just feeling tiredBurnout is a real challenge in today’s fast-paced world, and it often stems from a lack of passion and variety in our daily lives.
Burnout is a term we hear often, but what is it really? It’s not just tiredness; it’s a sense of enduring dread that becomes a part of you. Imagine waking up without motivation, without that spark, and every daily task feeling like an unbearable burden.
When I tackle a task that requires sustained attention, I begin with a plan, determined to finish it on time. However, as time passes, I find myself losing focus, and a pervasive feeling of emptiness takes over as if a switch inside me has been turned off. In a bid to escape this nothingness, I often reach for my phone or indulge in watching cute dog videos on YouTube. Before I know it, half an hour has slipped away, and panic sets in as I've fallen far behind due to procrastination.
Our world of today is constantly in motion, never settling, and this rapid pace can overwhelm our minds and bodies, making it challenging to keep up. You go about your day, only to realise that deadlines are looming, household chores remain untouched, that book you bought weeks ago gathers dust, and the more you dwell on it, the more overwhelming it becomes. Before you know it, your motivation has vanished.
Burnout is a peculiar state—you’re tired without actually feeling tired. It’s when you’re emotionally, physically, and mentally drained and even a good night’s sleep can’t recharge you.
From my own experiences, I’ve learned that burnout often stems from doing things merely for the sake of doing them. When I engage in activities without genuine excitement, it slowly extinguishes the spark within me. In today’s fast-paced world, where busyness is glorified, prioritising activities that genuinely ignite your passion has become essential. Tasks undertaken with wholehearted dedication uplift the spirit, filling the heart with contentment and setting a positive chain reaction for subsequent tasks.
I recently talked to a surgeon who avoids burnout by playing football every week. His passion for the game counterbalances the monotony of his job, offering a much-needed break. When individuals engage in repetitive tasks daily, without any novelty or challenge, it’s not tiredness they experience but burnout. We often hear people exclaim, “I’m so tired of my life.” But I believe they’re fatigued by the dull repetition of their daily routines. The absence of novelty, self-challenge, and personal growth drains their zeal.
Imagine a colleague at your workplace who appears consistently unmotivated and fatigued. Then, one evening, your office organises a futsal match, and that same colleague is suddenly full of enthusiasm, laughing, and actively participating—the picture of energy. When my mother asks me to sweep the stairs, I may feel tired, but when a friend calls me to play cricket, I won’t leave the field until the sun sets. So, was I genuinely tired before?
Tiredness can often be remedied with a cup of hot tea or a good night’s sleep, but burnout is a different beast altogether. It’s the product of our environment and the nature of our daily lives. The inability to travel, share our emotions, endure repetitive tasks, or pursue our passions can all contribute to burnout.
Today, the challenge is even greater. When we feel slightly off, we instinctively reach for our phones, assuming we’re tired or in need of a break, mindlessly scrolling through social media. After a while, our brains feel fogged, our heads heavier than before. It was challenging enough to focus before, and now, we can’t even take a break properly. If you’re struggling to find motivation, it’s crucial to take a break the right way, not through endless social media scrolling, because that is procrastinating and cannot be called taking a break.
What has worked for me is changing my surroundings. Don’t attempt to relax where you work—it’s simply not conducive. You can’t expect a proper break at your work desk. So, get up, move around, play your favourite song, and engage in an activity you genuinely enjoy. This can effectively dispel weariness. I make an effort daily to keep the child in me alive, as it’s this inner child that keeps me creative, allows me to laugh at the most unexpected moments, and helps me see beyond the surface of things, saving me from dread. The surgeon who plays football every week relies on his inner child to combat the daily routine’s monotony. Embrace your interests and let them wash away your boredom and weariness. Soon, you’ll realise that you’re not truly tired—you’re just tired of not doing what you love enough.