Have you been feeling burnt out lately? Stressed? Overwhelmed? How about exhausted?
Feeling burnt out is incredibly common
Feeling burnt out has become all too common, especially among young adults. If you google “millennial burnout” you get so many hits you don’t even know where to start! There are a few different reasons why it is believed that millennial are the “burnout generation”, but not everyone believes that it’s true. Many older adults believe that millennials are too sensitive, or soft, and that burnout has been around forever yet no one has complained about it.
Okay, here’s the deal: Millennial burnout is very, very real.
At least it is from my perspective – and I may not have believed it if I hadn’t gone through it myself. But now that I have, I completely understand what might have brought on a generation that experiences high levels of burnout.
The lifestyle is different
Millennials grew up in a different time than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, which meant they experienced a very different lifestyle. Growing up with the internet and technology meant constant stimulation. As we know, constant stimulation affects our nervous system, and some of this stimulation can trigger our stress response without us being aware. This era of technology only became more complicated when cellphones were added to the mix. At this point, the stimulation became portable, and people could carry around devices that connected them 24/7.
Expectations are different
Then comes societal challenges. Every generation has experienced its own difficulties when it comes to education, lifestyle and finances. However, millennials are in a unique situation. In a time when everyone values a university degree, we were hounded about the importance of school from a young age. Since universities are competitive, you began to compare yourself to your peers. Are you as good as they are? Can you do better than them? How can you get that “one up” over them?
These questions go through kids heads from the moment they realize their future is laid out in front of them: school = good job = money = house = life. This stress sticks with kids from a young age, and it doesn’t go away as they get older. In fact, it continues to escalate as the job market becomes more and more competitive, and student debts continue to climb. Then it’s the challenge of affording a house. So many millennials spend years after their post-secondary education living with their parents. This is often to save money, or because they can’t find a job to pay for rent, let alone a mortgage.
These are all forms of constant stress
You can argue that every generation experiences these stressors – and I’m not saying they don’t. But the magnitude at which millennials experience them is arguably bigger. And because of the constant connection (smartphones), the constant comparison (jobs, homes, life milestones), and the need to continually “improve”, millennials are burning out.
The reason might vary, but the result is the same.
If you’re feeling burnt out, it can be for a variety of reasons. Stress can come from so many different places, but here are some common ones that we often don’t think about because they’re simply “life”:
- Lifestyle stress: not feeling accomplished enough, always feeling the need to do better, being hard on yourself, illness
- Financial stress: not enough money, can’t afford the lifestyle you want, unable to pay your rent or the mortgage, credit card debt
- Social stress: not feeling good enough, too many commitments, saying YES to everything, social anxiety
- Job/workplace stress: highly competitive environments, pushing yourself too hard, over-committing
- Family stress: illness in the family, taking care of your parents, taking care of young kids
- Relationship stress: stress associated with your spouse or significant other, dating apps, dating in GENERAL
Your body’s stress response
What this all comes down to is the body’s stress response. When stressed, the body goes into fight or flight mode. When our nervous system is kicked into high gear, we tense up and adrenaline pumps through our veins getting us ready to literally fight or flight.
Here’s the thing: our body doesn’t know the difference between coming across a bear in the woods, or financial stress because you can’t pay the mortgage. It’s all the exact same, physiologically.
If you’re in fight-or-flight mode constantly, the nervous system starts to wear down. Your body produces cortisol, the main stress hormone, to help you get through. But if you produce too much cortisol over time, without taking a break or resting, your body can eventually burn out.
And that’s what happened to me.
Symptoms of burnout
No matter who you are, chronic stress can lead to burnout. Burnout is often characterized by the following symptoms, and many, many more:
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or difficulty getting up in the morning
- Anxiety and/or depression, moodiness, anger
- Weight gain
- Increased illness, catching more colds than usual
- Feeling apathetic about the world, not caring anymore
- Feeling overwhelmed, as if you’re constantly drowning
- Chest tightness or difficulty breathing
- Tingling or numbness in the hands/feet
- Memory loss or foggy brain/thoughts
- Difficulty focusing
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to speak with your medical doctor. Although they are related to burnout, many of them are also related to other conditions and some could be an emergency.
How to avoid feeling burnt out
You need to get super real with yourself if you’re ready to support your body and get out of burnout. Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify your stressors: what is causing stress on your body? Look at everything from lifestyle, to mindset, to even your diet!
- Manage, reduce or eliminate those stressors: Get rid of as much stress as you possibly can. Understandably, not everything can be eliminated. If you can’t get rid of something, learn how to manage it with stress management techniques.
- Support your body: I have talked about the four pillars of burnout before. You need to take a look at supporting your body with the proper nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle and mindset. These four elements will help you feel better, faster.
The good news? It’s entirely possible. I’ve completely burnt out twice, and both times I’ve been able to support my body and get back to feeling HEALTHY again!
The bad news? It can take time. Sometimes up to 2-3 years. There is no “quick fix” and it often involves some pretty big mindset and lifestyle changes.
But honestly, you will become better for it. Burnout isn’t something that millennials have to go through, it’s just something that happens. But if you can watch for the symptoms, and have a better understanding of how to support your body, you are much less likely to feel burnt out altogether.
And that, my friends, is exactly what we want to avoid.
Feeling burnt out and want support? Check out my online program From Burnt Out to Balanced – designed to help you support your body using the four pillars identified above! Go from feeling exhausted and drained to healthy, energized and balanced. Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me.