This article orginally appeared on LinkedIn and is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.
I’m so glad LinkedIn is leading a conversation about burnout.
It's been a decade, but I still find myself telling the story of the time I moved home with my parents and spent three months struggling to get out of bed in my early thirties.
I couldn’t even work, and it was a dark time, honestly. I’d have preferred to learn the lesson a little easier, instead of having to pick up the pieces one by one.
Before that I’d won a couple of journalistic prizes for investigating law enforcement corruption in New Orleans. I was proud of the work, and we exposed some things that led to changes in the way things were done, as well as a couple of people going to prison.
But I had to work extremely hard to do it, and my personal relationships suffered, as well as my mental health.
Basically: No job is worth dying for. That’s what I realised. And I also realised that I’d been drawn to the work, in part, because I knew it would be so difficult, and because I wanted to take on a task that might destroy me.
That’s some dark stuff to realise about yourself, isn’t it? Thing is? It works. You can extinguish yourself if you’re not careful. And it’s no joke.
Nobody ever goes to the grave saying, “I wish I’d worked more”
Taking the right steps
If you’re struggling with burnout, here’s what I recommend.
1. First, get a good therapist. Even if you must pay for one. There’s no way you can unpack this stuff without a trained professional and to really get to the root of it can take time.
2. Second, because the work is important and you care about it, and you’re perhaps the only person who cares as much as you do, it’s still very important to look out for signs that you’re neglecting your own wellbeing in the process.
I still laugh because a doctor once asked me how many coffees I was drinking and I said, “two or three” and he was like, “that’s not so bad,” and I meant entire French presses-worth, on the daily.
3. Third, invest in your supportive relationships. There are people who came and looked in on me when I was burned out who I’m still grateful for today and you’d be surprised who they are.
Guys are often taught that we should sacrifice ourselves, particularly in pursuit of just causes. Look at our superheroes. It’s not like Batman has great interpersonal relationships and the only reason Alfred hangs around is the Wayne fortune.
If you’re not Bruce Wayne, though, it’s worth figuring out quickly, “who really cares whether or not I’m okay?
4. Lastly, work isn’t that important. I know that’s a little ridiculous to write on LinkedIn, but honestly, it’s true.
In the grand scale of things, many of our accomplishments aren’t so grand.
And nobody ever goes to the grave saying, “I wish I’d worked more.”
So, make time for those sustaining and nourishing moments that give you strength. Value them as you value yourself.
And: Good luck to you, my friend. Nobody should burn themselves out.
You deserve rest and recuperation and to be the best version of yourself.
Matthew Charles Davis is a Strategic Communications Consultant aka "the comms whisperer"