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The Tell-Tale Signs Of Burnout & What To Do About It

Workin' Girl

Most of the time, we don't recognize burnout until it's too late.

By the time we realize we're unmotivated or depleted, it's already in takeover mode in multiple areas of our lives and we're ready to snap on anyone in our path, if we haven't already. Despite how it might feel, burnout doesn't have control over us. It can only come in and wreak havoc when we allow it.


While it might seem like a sneaky monster, there are ways to know burnout is headed your way, making it easier for you to overcome it. Take a look at the tips below!

Negative Vibes Only

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If you find yourself resenting everything around you, and you're having a nearly impossible time being optimistic about even the smallest things, burnout might be on the horizon. Don't take those moments of irritation and annoyance lightly. The truth is, you might feel that way because you're overwhelmed in one (or multiple) areas of your life, and that's the method you use to react, even if it's subconsciously. As a remedy, try taking out some of that frustration at the gym. A good workout to flush out all of the stress you're experiencing can do wonders for you sis.

Eatin’ Too Good

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I'm guilty of this as much as the next chick. Emotional eating can come when you're in a really amazing mood and want to celebrate with cake and ice cream (cue Rihanna "and it's not even your birthday") or when you're ready to quit your job on sight so you indulge in whatever carbs and fat you can put your hands on. I can't lie, it tastes amazing, but it's not physically or mentally healthy, and could be a sign you're struggling from burnout. One solution is to discover your triggers for emotional eating and be more intentional about how you respond with your favorite foods. When those cravings come along, a glass of water could do the trick.

No Motivation

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When we do the same thing day in and out -- home, work and back again -- it can be difficult to find the excitement in life. Getting stuck in a rut is no joke. If you realize that you're not motivated at a job that you were once in love with, or that it's really hard for you to stay focused as your attention span declines on a daily, you might just be over it -- in other words burned out. It's not a bad thing at all. It happens to all of us. But it can be stopped by taking a vacation, even if all you can do is a staycation at home on a Saturday. Whatever you need, take a break from the grind and the hustle of life and unplug so you can go back recharged and motivated again to do what you love. (Also, make a habit of scheduling free time for you to do this regularly so prevent more frequent burnout in the future.)

Sleep Pattern Is Way Off

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If you're experiencing one extreme of chronic fatigue or the other, of insomnia, you might just have too much going on, and could be struggling from burnout. Having no energy and feeling completely depleted for even the smallest things and already dreading the next day before it arrives is a sign of burnout. Another side is having trouble going to sleep to begin with (and that melatonin just ain't working). While these could mean other things, they could also be an indication that you're experiencing burnout, sis. You can prevent fatigue by cutting out things like caffeine and alcohol. You can also try seeing a therapist and lowering your stress levels. When it comes to insomnia, you can get moving and exercise before bed, but also try not to go for that midnight snack.

When It Gets Physical

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Physical signs of burnout consists of heavy chest pains, not being able to breathe normally, suffering from headaches and even fainting. It might be easy to overlook some of these things as normal or just how your body operates, but the truth is, you might be doing your body more damage than good without evaluating if burnout could be the root factor. If it is, try seeing a doctor about ways to treat these symptoms and boost your energy level, ultimately winning your battle against burnout.

Going Solo

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We all like to be alone sometimes. In fact, some of us more than others. While we can put it off for the sake of being an introvert (raises hand slowly), sometimes even the most social side of us could be going through it. At work, you might find yourself closing your door more often, not wanting to do the regular chit chat with your coworkers and being a little more antisocial than your norm. At times, you could get to the point where you show up late just to steer clear of having to talk to people. If you're feeling burnout at this level, or any level, a break might be in order for you, sis. Remember, there's nothing wrong with needing a vacation. Just do what you feel is needed to get mentally clear.

Your Performance At Work Is On The Decline

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We all know when we first start a job, we're energetic, full of bright ideas and sometimes, they can't get us to stop talking. Once we get comfortable and use all of the energy we have to complete even the smallest tasks, it's easy to feel a certain level of burnout. We find ourselves speaking up less in the meetings, and not feeling like going to the meetings at all. In these moments, you can either alter your attitude or the pressure you have on yourself at work, or both. I think one of the biggest lessons learned is that we can't expect someone to look out for us when it comes to our health and mental status. So doing what's best for you shouldn't be frowned upon. Take a break and make your comeback even better than when you left.

Featured image by Getty Images

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our weekly newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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