Baby Boomer Burnout
The 5 Best Cures for Baby Boomer Burnout!
by Mary Brook Associate Executive Director
Burnout. It is real and it will creep up on you. It is insidious: You may not notice it until it arrives. It starts as a nagging feeling that something is just not right but you can’t fix it. You feel tired all the time and a little dark cloud hangs over your head. You tell people you are doing fine but smiling takes an effort, it feels forced, although you keep on going. Your head is hanging so low you don’t notice the small things in life anymore.
For the last 20 years life has been at high speed and suddenly your lifestyle isn’t working for you. You feel sandwiched between taking care of your parents, caring for your family, working too hard and never taking a break to think about yourself.
According to Joe Robinson, author, trainer, and keynote speaker, “burnout is a serious medical condition that can set off other problems—depression, stroke, suicidal thoughts, breakdown. The last stage of chronic stress, burnout occurs
when all your energetic resources—emotional, physical, and mental—have been used up.”
The causes of burnout are different for everyone. Caregiver burnout from the task of caregiving is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a baby boomer sandwiched between taking care of your aging parents, spouses, or the grandkids, caregiving burnout is real and needs to be recognized.
In addition to caregiving, work is one of the most common causes of burnout. If your work is monotonous, high pressured, and unappreciated stress may be a consequence of the work environment and constant stress leads to burnout.
Other causes of burnout are related to your own lifestyle and or personality traits. The pace of your life at high speed can cause burnout. Never taking the time to “stop and smell the roses” may leave you feeling empty and not connected with friends and family. Your own personality can cause you stress. If you have a need to be perfect or in control of every decision in your life, you may be at higher risk of burnout. Holding on to your high expectations can cause stress especially when life doesn’t go as planned.
Here are some of the symptoms of burnout:
- You wake up every day with an empty feeling in your heart and mind, or feeling totally exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- You feel like you have nothing left to give to your family and those around you, and you don’t care about anyone or anything.
- You are not motivated to go to work, clean the house, or take care of yourself.
- Your vision of the world is heavy and dark, your fatigue blinds you and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
- You feel like there is nothing to look forward to in your life because your cup is empty, not even half full.
- When you reach the point of burnout you feel like you don’t know how to fix it.
- You wake up in the morning and the only thing you think about is wanting to feel better.
- You just want to get your life under control and get rid of everything that is causing you pressure.
If you have reached that point of burnout you know it is time to pause and hit the stop button. Take a deep breath, step back, and start taking care of yourself. Pushing through burnout can have serious consequences that will potentially manifest in the body in the form of illness. If you are feeling chronically stressed it is time to take a serious look at being burned out!
Taking the first step towards wellness doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Curing burnout doesn’t happen overnight. Take one day at a time. Stop and imagine what your day should look like and plan steps to make your day go as what you imagined. Write your plan down.
Set your goals for the day and prioritize your responsibilities by putting your goals first. Don’t make excuses about not having enough time or attending to someone who may need you. If you make the commitment to take care of yourself it is important to keep your commitment. In order to make it happen, you may have to get up an hour early or not watch TV at night. But if your goal is to feel better you must have the energy, desire, and motivation to take care of yourself.
The 5 Best Baby Boomer cures for Burnout!
- Let go. Quit trying to take care of everything by yourself. Ask for help. Ask your family, friends, church, work, neighbors, social workers, and anyone who can lend an ear or a helping hand. Don’t be afraid to let go. It will always work out in the end.
- Eat how you want to feel. Eating a healthy diet will make you feel better and lighten your mood. If you are stressed and eat candy, cookies, and cake you will feel heavy and sluggish. Making little changes in your diet over time will make a big difference in how you feel. Remember to take one day at a time.
- Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise doesn’t have to be an hour at the gym every day. It can be a walk outside or working in the garden. The feeling of being outdoors is freeing and invigorating. Park your car at the end of the parking lot and walk briskly to the door. Stand up at your desk if you have been sitting for a long time. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- Mind your P’s and Q’s. Saying please and thank you can change the way you feel. When you are polite and on your best behavior you can trick your mind into believing you feel better. It’s mind over matter. Every day you have a choice when you wake up. Chose to feel better and do everything you can to make it happen.
- At the end of the day congratulate yourself and be grateful for what you did do versus what you didn’t do. Feeling grateful makes you appreciate what you did for yourself. If you take care of yourself you can take care of others.
Stress can cause serious problems with your health, personal life, and affect your view of the world. It's important to stop, take a deep breath, and start to take care of yourself.