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Burn Out

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Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.

-Carl Von Clausewitz

Life’s schedule becomes more and more hectic. With less time to do what you want to do, more time spent on what you shouldn’t, and the slowly creeping feeling of not reaching your goals; burn out affects everyone. Burnout is classically defined as “a state of mental or physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” Not only does chronic burnout lead to depression, chronic illness and injury, and social withdraw, the hardest toll is on motivation and dedication.

What does Burnout have to do with the gym?

Think about your life as a bucket, and each task or pursuit is water you fill into the bucket. A bucket can only hold so much, just like your life can only hold so much stress before it overfills. So, you fill up the bucket with work, bills, commute, social time, the gym, meal prepping, deadlines at work, ect. Over time, if you aren’t mindful of how much stress you’re filling your bucket, it will overflow, and when it does, something must take the blunt force of it all.

Three stages of Burnout

The three stages of Burnout can be subtle and if you aren’t careful, can buildup quickly. The first stage is lack of motivation, which can come in the form of hopelessness, lack of motivation, or a general feeling of being overwhelmed. If you allow this feeling to persist, next is fatigue. Now you begin to feel sleepy, lethargic, and maybe you aren’t recovering from your workouts like usual. Lastly, you begin to develop feelings of cynicism for the goals you’ve set. You are skeptical about if you will ever reach those goals and you feel as if you should just give up. At this point you don’t feel like putting in the work for those goals, you hurt and are tired, thus not motivated to peruse your goal, and now you’re doubting yourself. A good example of this is when someone is a regular in the gym and suddenly they stop showing up, until its been weeks since anyone has seen them. Regardless of working out or career pursuit, something must give, and you will not win the battle with stress.

Preventing Burnout

First and foremost, set a goal for yourself, then plan out your day around that goal. It could be something as large and long-term as dropping :30 seconds off your mile time, or something as simple as not snoozing your alarm in the morning. Become assertive to yourself and cravings. Don’t allow yourself to think, “5 more mins of sleep, oh I’ll go to the gym tomorrow, just one more episode and its bedtime.” It is your responsibility to take control over your actions and your life and allowing yourself to defer to negative responses is much easier than being responsible and positive. Practice mental and physical coping/calming tasks. This could be in the form of stretching, meditation, practice breathing, relaxing by the pool, putting everything on pause to take a walk or a nap, and taking time out for yourself. When you feel yourself start to have symptoms of Burnout, immediately reach out to a friend or family member. Social support is the best way to relieve stress and reduce your chances of extreme social withdraw.