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Burning Bright or Burning Out: When Is Busy Too Much

By Genevieve Cunningham

Workplace Burnout

Work, fitness, finances, family. If the mere thought of balancing all of these things in your life just gave you a mini panic attack, you’re not alone. As a society, we are busier than ever before. Not just busy -- swamped. Overloaded. We’ve taken the idea of staying busy and pushed it over the top. We’re burning the candle at both ends and, as a result, we’re completely burning out. Even worse, burnout is bringing big consequences.

According to the American Psychological Association, burnout increases the risk of major cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac arrest. Burnout is destroying our health from the inside out. But that’s not all; it’s also costing us money. A study completed by Harvard Business Review and published in Forbes magazine suggests that burnout and its effects are costing us over $100 billion per year. Billion -- with a B. Burnout is breaking the bank.

With such big consequences, why is burnout still commonly ignored or overlooked? We still treat it as an imaginary illness. Perhaps it’s that we still don’t really understand it -- or even worse, we don’t know how to avoid it or properly treat it. To help you navigate the next few months without burning the last of your reserves, take a look at these tips.


Burnout can be triggered by a wide variety of things, but at this time of year, a few of the most common triggers include:

  • Back-to-school - The season of backpacks and homework and activities is upon us. Without proper management skills, we’ll all be burning by the end.
  • Holidays - We love the holidays, but there’s no denying the stress that comes with them.
  • Family - Family is life’s greatest blessing and life’s greatest burden. The trick is finding the happy medium.
  • Work - Employment of any kind is both necessary and overwhelming. But with the end of the year coming at us hot and heavy, the stress is really building.


The signs of burnout are tricky. Many of them mimic other conditions, or they may seem like the consequences of a busy life. But it’s important to pay attention. Some of the early warning signs of potential burnout include:

  • Exhaustion - You’re not just tired; you’re weary. You’re fatigued in your bones. If your exhaustion is excessive and growing, you may have a problem.
  • Detachment - This may manifest as apathy. It might be a complete inability to focus on the task in front of you. If detachment starts to creep in, you’ll notice. And if you notice, action should be at the forefront of your mind.
  • Illness - Burnout physically drags us down. If the potential for burnout is growing, your immune system may suffer and frequent illness may rear its ugly head.


Dealing with burnout is mostly about prevention. Once you can recognize the signs, you have to take action. You can get started using the three R’s:

  • Reduce - Most burnout is caused by doing too much in too little time. Reduce as many stressors from your life as possible. Extra activities, voluntary overtime hours, and any non-necessity items are all on the chopping block.
  • Rest - The power of rest cannot be overstated. Rest is crucial. It’s absolutely essential to beating burnout and restoring health.
  • Refocus - Your time is valuable, and it’s time to treat it that way. Refocus your energy and time on the things that matter, and let other things go. Work? Do it now. Towels? Fold them later. Then release yourself from the stress of getting everything done right now.

Burnout is real. It’s a growing problem that needs effective solutions. If your candle is getting dim, relight the fire using these techniques. This is not the time of year for burnout. Get on top of your mental and physical health right now, and keep the fire blazing through the end of the year.

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