You’re Probably Going Through A Burnout.


Have you ever woken up just knowing that the day wasn’t going to go well? That feeling of lethargy the moment you open your eyes, the grogginess as you drag yourself off the bed, and the severe lack of motivation from doing anything even after washing up. Before long, you notice that this feeling of lousiness has persisted through days, weeks or even months. You start to have trouble sleeping. You have a low mood throughout the day. You experience a creative rut. You wonder to yourself if something is wrong, but ultimately chastise yourself and put this negative behaviour down to your increased laziness.

If you are feeling this way, it is likely that you are suffering from burnout. Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion and can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time. I wouldn’t blame you if you look at some of the symptoms and realise that ‘Damn, I’ve been burnout out this entire time.’

Some common symptoms of burnout include:

  1. Insomnia
  2. A strong feeling of detachment
  3. Lack of creativity
  4. Fatigue
  5. Sadness, Anger, or irritability

It’s really easy to forget about our own mental well-being when life starts getting hectic. We all desire to be productive, and even more so in Singapore’s fast-paced culture. But intentional rest is imperative for sustaining consistent levels of productivity and avoiding burnout. Much like the story about the tortoise and the hare, doing things at a steady and manageable pace trumps going at full throttle but doing so carelessly.

And if you are someone that’s already in a state of burnout, it might be tempting to simply rest for a day or two before going full speed ahead again. But from personal experience, that wouldn’t work, and in essence simply just prolongs the duration that you’re stuck feeling burnt out. Ironically, it’ll take a lot of discipline and patience in enforcing that rest upon yourself, but the slingshot effect it’ll have on your productivity would be miles better than persisting work through a state of burnout. Recovering is not a simple 1-to-1 ratio of work to rest. Rather it’s a bit more like the ‘magic relationship ratio’, a concept by psychologist Dr. Gottman, where for every negative interaction in a relationship, a stable and happy marriage has at least five positive interactions to compensate for it. As my therapist told me, we could apply that idea to burnout, and perhaps it’ll help us have a healthier impression of scale when it comes to how much we should rest when we’ve hit a roadblock.

It’s about time we start applying that same tenacity we have at work to our own physical and mental well-being. As I like to say, self-awareness doesn’t solve anything, and just being aware of our perpetual tiredness isn’t going to help us resolve it. Let’s start giving ourselves more leeway to take five for the sake of our health, and as Singaporeans would love, our productivity.

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About Author

A young Singaporean concerned about issues workers face. As humans, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and recharging, and another third for our personal life, and the last third at work (based on a 24-hr distribution). That's why we should pay attention to issues surrounding work.