What is burnout?
First things first -- Let's talk about the well.
Your well consists of all the energy and time you have to give. Like water in a well, you can access it and share it when we want. Everyone has their own well.
Unfortunately, just like any other well, your own well can only be shared so much. When you are devoting yourself to a project, you are putting "water from your well" into it. You can only do that so much before the well is empty!
Burnout can be thought of as your well running dry!
Ok. So my "well" is dry. What does that mean for me?
Burnout can look and feel different for different people.
- Thinking: finding it hard to think straight or make decisions (big or small). Frequently forgetting things.
- Physical: headaches, trouble sleeping, getting sick, or just feeling overly tired.
- Emotions: feeling annoyed or irritable, stressed, hopeless, numb, or cynical.
Often, it's a combination of all!
Some signs of burnout (an incomplete list):
- Poor or disrupted sleep
- Changes in eating
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Muscle tension
- Procrastination or putting off your goals
When feeling burnt out, people often feel like what they are working toward is impossible. That they aren't making a difference. They might feel themselves putting off the things they need to do. They may take their anger out on other people or isolate themselves.
Overall, feeling burnout is tied to feeling hopeless and becoming disengaged from your goals.
Though the feelings above can be experienced by anyone, there is a unique challenge for activists of color fighting for racial justice. For many, when feelings of burnout come up, the urge to detach and distance can be strong, and when you are fighting for something that isn't personal, you can move away from it for a while, but for People of Color fighting for racial justice, there is no "pause" button. You cannot step away from the systemic injustice-- it is something you see in your day to day life.
You are not alone!
Burnout is NOT a sign of weakness.
Remember the well?
Experiencing burnout means you have been giving more of yourself than you can actually sustain.
Your well is running dry!