Sarah discusses the feeling of being burned out and how we should embrace these periods as an opportunity to be mindful.
As a student, I sometimes encounter the feeling of being tired and not having the mental capacity to do the simplest things. This unusual feeling is misunderstood as laziness. But, I think I am just burned out.
The society we live in values us only when we are productive. We are put under this unrealistic expectation to be productive at all times, be on our best behavior, and never get tired. As a result, we continue working till we completely break down and eventually end up feeling burned out. Our productivity dramatically reduces, our energy levels drip, and we feel exhausted. A feeling of guilt slowly builds in as we continue to be unproductive. We look for ways to get out of this low state of mind but some of us might fail. Some of us might even compare ourselves to people who are at their best. Social media has indeed facilitated this comparison. This period might be just a few days for some and months for others. but at some point in life, everyone goes through a “burn-out,” yet, we rarely speak of it.
We must remember that humans are inherently flawed. It is important to acknowledge the mental health of a person and to know when to take a break. We must acknowledge the feeling of being exhausted, of not wanting to do anything, or simply wanting to rest as legitimate. Additionally, we must take time to understand that we can’t simply stop feeling something (that’s what makes us human!). Instead, we must embrace the slow life that this feeling pushes us into and use it to recharge ourselves. We must accept that we are currently not at our best and we can’t be the most productive at all times. We all have our highs and lows and none of this affects our self-worth.
During such an inevitable period, something that can lighten this feeling is looking at the small things around us. With a weary mind, one cannot focus at work, but it is possible to seek joy in the little things that ordinarily go unnoticed. Perhaps, noticing the pattern on the trees’ leaves, or admiring how a sparrow builds its nest can help us to let go of the anxiety or restlessness we possess. It can help us to be mindful again, to once again be grateful for what we have. At that moment, it might seem futile, but it is cathartic.
We must remember, being productive is a good thing but not being productive for a while also isn’t a bad thing. Life will pass in a blur and if we don’t take time to stop and look at it, we will find ourselves tangled in unrealistic to-do lists and jumbled up in feelings of hopelessness, at the end unnecessarily doubting our self-worth.