Lately, I’ve been discovering along with lots of women in our community that right now, we’re not as fine as we often claim to be.
Today I want to share some of the latest research that’s beginning to emerge about a new kind of burnout that’s showing up for women around the world – so you can spot the warning signs for yourself.
The signs we tend to ignore
When we begin to find ourselves on the path towards burnout, we often have a tendency to tell ourselves “I’ll be fine when…”
For example, you might be feeling that you’ll be fine when you’ve had a good night’s sleep.
- Or when this big project’s off your plate.
- Or the kids have settled back into school.
- Or, more generally, when things “get back to normal”.
Now, sometimes that might be true. There are certainly those clearly defined times – a colleague’s on holiday, or a friend needs more support, or you have a big deadline – when it’s possible to consciously don your Superwoman pants and test just how much you can get done.
But really, those need to be exceptional times.
Because once we’ve got into Superwoman mode (you know, when you’re just taking on everything and juggling it all somehow) it is INCREDIBLY hard to get out.
And when the signs start to show – you drop a few balls here and there, metaphorically speaking, or you’re struggling to make decisions, or your emotions are all over the place – those platitudes of “I just need X” can block you from taking action.
The truth about that “good night’s sleep”
When it comes to recovering from exhaustion, many of us have it backwards.
We think that we’ll rest when things get quieter. Or that a good night’s sleep will give us more energy.
When the truth is, it’s not until you’ve really taken the time to rest and recover that you’ll be able to make the effective decisions that allow things at work to calm down.
(When you’ve replenished fully, you’ll see with great clarity that lots of things on your plate don’t need to be done at all. It’s that creative, strategic thinking that often tends to go when we’re burnt out.)
Or take the “good night’s sleep” thing. Ah, what we could get done if we just had that one perfect night!
But often, when we’re wired on adrenaline, it doesn’t matter how late the alarm is set. We don’t get the rest we need. We need to replenish our energy first to allow us to make the most of our sleep.
If you’re nodding in agreement right now, there’s one important thing to know. Emotional exhaustion is affecting almost all of us right now.
Woman around the world are reaching our limits
It’s critical for us to acknowledge that the global pandemic has impacted almost everybody in the world. And all of the research is starting to show that it is disproportionately affecting women.
- Deloitte found that 82% of women that they surveyed said that their lives had been disrupted by the pandemic. And all of those 82%, 70% of them were concerned that their career growth was being limited by the new kind of status quo around the pandemic.
- McKinsey and company in their Women In The Workforce report found between 10 and 23% of women are considering leaving their careers altogether.
- Drexel university found that women were at a significantly increased risk of developing CATI coronary artery disease.
- According to a RAND Corporation study, during the pandemic women have increased their heavy drinking days by 41% compared to before the pandemic.
These diverse pieces of research indicate that overall, women are starting to reach a place of emotional exhaustion. We’ve been balancing stresses and worries for so long – ours and everybody else’s – that we’ve simply got to a place of no more bandwidth.
Here are 4 signs that are emerging as signals that it’s time for us to replenish at a deeper level.
These are the key signs that are showing up for women who have reached the point of emotional exhaustion. Have a quick look at this list. How many are you seeing in your life?
1. A little thing triggers us into a big emotional response,
You shrink one of your favorite pieces of clothes in the dryer or an appointment gets canceled at the last minute that you were really looking forward to… one little thing pops and you just bubble over – rage, tears, frustration…
2. You’re more tired than ever.
Maybe you don’t feel you’ve rested even when you have. Or you can’t get off to sleep, or you’re waking up early with your mind racing. If tiredness continues for more than a week or so – it’s a sign something needs to change.
3. You’re turning to negative coping mechanisms.
For some of us it’s overwork. Scrolling on social media until the small hours. Too much TV. Or wine. It might even show up subtly, as wanting to fix everyone else’s problems, or taking on way too many projects. Essentially, you’re avoiding being with yourself.
We’ve all experienced some degree of enforced isolation in the past two years. But even when we’re permitted to see friends, lots of us find it hard to reach out. Are you pulling back from connecting, or feeling as though you don’t want to be a burden on your friends?
5. Feeling ineffective
Of course, we all have days that go better than others. But generally, do you feel good about what you achieve – or does it seem as though your to-do list is a hopeless struggle? If procrastination and motivation are a challenge – could be a sign it’s time to take action.
Time to renew your energy?
So, where are you at? Do you recognise any of those 4 signs in your world at the moment? Maybe you just have an instinctive feeling that you could do with a boost – and are wondering how on earth you can manage that.
The good news is, we’ve got you covered. Registration is now open for RENEW. It’s a 6 day online journey to help you restore your energy and replenish your sense of purpose.
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