Let’s stop glorifying burnout.
“Rich people don’t sleep eight hours a day,” Steve Harvey famously equated success and achievement with sacrificing a long night’s sleep.
How many times have you read a long-winded, outrageously over-the-top LinkedIn post about someone who wakes up at 4am and goes to the gym, runs 10k in 8 minutes, drinks a breakfast shake and gets to work at 6am?
Glorifying this way of life is not only (probably) an inauthentic representation of yourself, but also incredibly damaging on the perception we each have of ourselves – am I doing enough? Am I as productive as them? Could I be doing more?
Studies have shown that waking up at a time like 4am is nothing to brag about. Sleeping less than 6 hours a night was proven in a study to produce enough cognitive issues to equate to 2 whole nights of sleep deprivation over the course of the experiment.
Another study showed that individuals sleeping 4 hours a night for a week had increased levels of stress hormones, a higher blood pressure, and had less antibodies to combat illness.
Clearly less sleep ≠ more success. At least not for everyone. If waking at 4am works for you, go for it. For the rest of us, it’s bound to incite a cycle of burnout which looks something like this:
Burnout is a gradual process that tends to creep up on you. By actively paying attention to your stress levels you can lower the chances of burning out. There are three main signs that you may be experiencing burnout:
1. Physical – you’re tired and drained all the time, your appetite has changed drastically, you feel more susceptible to illness…
2. Emotions – you’re more irritable, finding it hard to be motivated, feel like a failure, don’t find the same satisfaction over things you used to enjoy…
3. Behaviour – you’re isolating yourself from people, taking advantage of food, drugs or alcohol to feel better, procrastinating…
Let’s make 2021 the year we set clear boundaries at work and avoid the cycle of burnout. Overworking is overrated.
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