The Burnout Badge

Do you wear a burnout badge? Do you think that to be able to measure up to other professionals or humans that you have to wear one? The burnout badge amplifies to the world that you are feeling all the burnout feelings, you are fatigued, overwhelmed, and ready to give up – but you keep going because you are strong and can get through this. The world needs to see and recognize this in you. I used to wear a Burnout Badge every year around this time.

I work in a field where people are rewarded for burnout behaviors, or rather continuing to work even though they’ve reached their burnout max. The more time you dedicate to your job, the more available you are, and the faster you answer emails = better professional. For a long time, I’ve felt that we should redefine what makes a great professional. And then I decided to stop measuring myself by that mark. No longer will I be defined as a good professional based on the hustle that others can see. Each year we would come together as professionals and play the game of who was the busiest… or had the hardest year… or the most conduct cases… or who was the most burnt-out. We proudly wore our burnout badges.

Right now, we are all wearing a burnout badge. But not because we want to, because managing life during a pandemic is just really hard. Our daily lives have changed, our typical outlets for stress have been removed from our lives for several months, and the replacements might not measure up to offer the same relief. Even small decisions come along with additional risk assessment. And many of us are managing anxiety from the risky choices of others. We are jealous of the people who look like they are managing this all so well, at least, based on their Instagram highlight reel.

Over the past two weeks my body sent a strong signal that my burnout badge was just to heavy. Through a battle of vertigo, I was forced to not just slow down, but come to a full stop. As someone who writes and works with others in the areas a wellness and burn event recovery, I felt like a hypocrite because I had not found a way to continuously manage my own recovery.

The bottom line is that I had stopped practicing a number of my daily recovery practices. I leaned to heavily into my comfort foods, was less active (using the excuse that I wasn’t feeling well) and had stepped back from being socially engaged with others (because some human interactions were energy suckers). This last week I had the gift of having the entire week off. I spent some time reconnecting with some friends and family, cleaning the house, cooking and baking, getting a workout in most days, and decorating the house for the winter holidays.

One of the great things about recommitting to your daily recovery practices is that you can do that anytime. You don’t have to wait for the new year, or a Monday, or the first of the month. You can reassess your goals and commit to those changes at any point. Be sure to take some time to first do some self-assessment. Consider all of your areas of wellness, where do you need to focus most. Then bring back or start a new practice that helps address that area, for example if you are struggling with your social wellness, commit to face-timing a friend or family member who you haven’t spoken with recently and connect with a new person 1-2 times each week.

Let’s make wearing our Burnout Badges a thing of the past and focus on filling our wellness buckets instead.

Looking for more information on how to build your recovery practices? Check out my post on recovery formulas.

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