Burnout. Exhaustion. Even nervous exhaustion. Or maybe ‘extreme fatigue’.
These are all terms I tend to associate with barely disguised gleeful press articles on celebrities being admitted to expensive clinics. We all suspect that it’s most likely drug or alcohol related. They’ve been partying too hard, they’re on tour and it’s all got too much for them.
Much as I’d like to be a massive celeb (without the d&a – well maybe some a), I’m not, and yet I think I suffer from burnout.
So what is it? Why do I think this?
Let’s look at some definitions of burnout, fatigue, exhaustion etc. (note – this is by no means a piece of well-referenced evidence-based research – I do enough of that at work):
“Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work.” (Wikipedia)
“… exhausted, listless, and unable to cope.” (Informed Health Online).
“… a feeling of tiredness or exhaustion or a need to rest because of lack of energy or strength.” (WebMD)
“a state of extreme physical or mental tiredness.” (OED)
I wouldn’t go quite as far as feeling unable to cope, but I do experience the tiredness and exhaustion and have noticed a recurring cycle in my life that I need to get to grips with, i.e.:
I know this cycle exists but it seems to boring to stop it, to think “oh I really must set a limit to what I can do and do everything in moderation at all times”. Nothing would ever get done if that was the case.
I can handle a week or two of quiet sniffles and me time (although colds do really wind me up- why can’t anyone find a cure?!) for the sake of the sense of achievement I feel during my busy periods.
Of course my ‘burnout’ periods aren’t anywhere as near as spectacular as some – in fact, taking Britney Spears as an example, mine are the mild cheddar to her fine, aged Stilton. I’ve not quite shaved my hair off and attacked a car with an umbrella (much as I’d like to sometimes, for example when I see a car parked across two spaces in a busy car park).
I think many of us suffer from burnout. Maybe I could even coin a new phrase – “Active Mum Burnout”. Then again, that sounds like I should be on Daybreak doing some annoyingly energetic exercise routine at stupid o’clock.
Just burnout is fine. I think it’s important that we all recognise it and take time put, before it becomes a problem that’s too big to handle.
No umbrellas here. Yet.