The Weekly Journal | Health

By Yenia Hernandez Fonseca - April 25, 2022



Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Catching Zzzs and optimal rest has turned into the ultimate scavenger hunt game in the history of Millennial living. Unfortunately, achieving a balanced work/life is not a one-size-fits-all ordeal. Our days are led by external factors that are usually out of our reach: work, kids, friends, SOs—you name it. While there’s nothing wrong with working towards certain goals, be it financial or personal, it is when our 9-to-5 and other social activities become our top priority that makes our mental and physical wellbeing take the burden. 

But wait for it. Did you know that constant work and activities without proper downtime is known to decrease motivation and creativity? This begs the next question: how are we supposed to do it all?! 

Take work, for example. 

Our imbalanced relationship with work is characterized by a familiar repetitive cycle. It starts with energy and optimism. Remember how excited you are whenever you start a new project? You think that working a couple of extra hours for a few weeks won’t affect you that much. You keep telling yourself you just need to meet that deadline and everything will go back to normal. 

But then comes stress, which leads to constant irritability, fatigue and memory issues, followed by chronic stress and dissatisfaction. Your two-week plan turns into a couple of months of non-stop work—your hair falls off, clogging the shower drain, you get bags under your eyes, and your face breaks out. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life's incessant demands, chances are you’re at the brink of burnout. 

Burnout is a form of exhaustion which comes as the result of non-stop emotional, physical, and mental stress. This perpetual form of fatigue can lead to anxiety, moodiness, and reduced performance and productivity (See? Here's why your two-week plan above failed).

Much like what makes you feel good, clothes have the power to give you an instant dopamine boost. The link between perception and clothing explains the significant role that our wardrobe plays in our lives. The clothes we wear affect our mood, how we act and how we think. 

According to CTV News, a new study conducted by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health found that more than a third of working Canadians feel burnt out. Even though many employers promote a healthy work-life balance, twenty five per-cent of Canadians have left a job due to stress, and seventeen per-cent have considered making an exit, as per a 2017 poll done by Monster Canada.

Social burnout is a thing

Whenever we start recognizing the effects of burnout in ourselves, we’re most likely to think of work. We associate fatigue to energy draining responsibilities. But, did you know that a full social agenda can also leave you feeling overstimulated, stressed, tired, and anxious?

Social burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that happens when we run out of energy to spend with others. A brunch here and a couple of drinks there, then a wedding next weekend followed by your best friend’s birthday—it’s all too much! The change of seasons, holidays, and other special occasions are great opportunities to reconnect with friends and family. However, the way we interact with people has drastically changed over the past couple of years, which has led to an intense overload of social invitations for the limited amount of free time in our schedule. 

Simply put, our clothes have mind altering properties. Surely, you’ve heard “dress for the job you want” or “dress for the person you want to be” at some point in your life. And while this is easier said than done, wearing certain outfits loaded with certain meanings can definitely make us see ourselves differently. Wearing a black leather jacket can either make you feel like either Lou Reed or The Weeknd – it’s all up to you! Remember: only self-knowledge and personal style can define your own idea of happiness. 

While social burnout is commonly associated with introvert types, everyone is susceptible to it. The signs and symptoms of social burnout may vary: you might feel angry, stressed, or physically tired, even impulsive at times. Recognizing the signs is important to figure out how to take action.

Breaking the cycle

Feeling restless and constant isn’t good for the brain. While burnout isn't directly linked to dopamine depletion, it does reduce the connectivity between different parts of the brain, leading to decreased creativity, working memory and problem solving skills. Dopamine is the feel-good hormone that your brain releases that helps us feel pleasure, so low levels of dopamine will make us feel less motivated and excited about things.

Prioritizing rest is the easiest antidote to burnout. Rest is productive because it allows you to reconnect with yourself and your needs which allows you to be present in every area of your life. Fulfilling your personal needs is critical for your wellbeing, your business, and your relationships. 

In case you find there’s little flexibility in your super packed schedule, alternate work and breaks in limited time intervals. Surely, all your work meetings and calls get a spot on your calendar, so why should you exclude a little downtime from it? Make that much needed “me-time” a high priority event too. 

Recharging from energy draining events–work or play–will do wonders for your body and mind. Unplug from any devices that demand attention and reward yourself with anything that brings you joy: read that book you left unfinished, sleep in or nap from time to time, walk around town and check out that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try.

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