Saturday, July 20, 2019


Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
It happens to the best of us: we run out of enthusiasm, of ideas, of energy for a thing which used to propel and motivate us. Sometimes all that's needed is a break from the thing, like a vacation, to put that pep back in our step. But sometimes, that drain lasts.

I'm speaking from personal experience. I haven't been writing many articles for Blue Collar Prepping because I'm burned out. Specifically, I can't think of anything new to say on the topic of prepping. Now this would all be well and good if I were confident that I'd written the definitive blog on prepping; I'd simply announce that BCP was done, mission accomplished, and shut everything down.

But I know that I haven't written everything that needs be said on prepping, or learned all there is to learn on the subject. I'm pretty clearly burned out on it.

Burnout is a very real problem because it can affect everyone. Worse, it can affect people during the worst possible times, such as after a disaster or during a long-term survival situation. A lot of burnout can be attributed to having to do too much for too long by yourself, without rest, which unfortunately describes the realities of long-term survival.

Here are the signs of Burnout, cribbed shamelessly from a 2013 Psychology Today article:
  • Chronic fatigue. In the early stages, you may feel a lack of energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread about what lies ahead on any given day.
  • Insomnia. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; as exhausted as you are, you can't sleep.
  • Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can't get your work done and everything begins to pile up.
  • Physical symptoms. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches (all of which should be medically assessed).
  • Increased illness. Because your body is depleted, your immune system becomes weakened, making you more vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.
  • Loss of appetite. In the early stages, you may not feel hungry and may skip a few meals. In the latter stages, you may lose your appetite altogether and begin to lose a significant amount of weight.
  • Anxiety. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes with your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
  • Depression. In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad and occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped and severely depressed and think the world would be better off without you. (If your depression is to this point, you should seek professional help immediately.)
  • Anger. At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability. In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in the workplace. (If anger gets to the point where it turns to thoughts or acts of violence toward family or coworkers, seek immediate professional assistance.)
  • Loss of enjoyment. At first, loss of enjoyment may seem very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave. Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends. At work, you may try to avoid projects and figure out ways to escape work altogether.
  • Pessimism. At first, this may present itself as negative self-talk and/or moving from a glass-half-full to a glass-half-empty attitude. At its worst, this may move beyond how you feel about yourself and extend to trust issues with coworkers and family members and a feeling that you can't count on anyone.
  • Isolation. In the early stages, this may seem like mild resistance to socializing (i.e., not wanting to go out to lunch; closing your door occasionally to keep others out). In the latter stages, you may become angry when someone speaks to you, or you may come in early or leave late to avoid interactions.
  • Detachment. Detachment is a general sense of feeling disconnected from others or from your environment. It can take the form of the behaviors described above and result in removing yourself emotionally and physically from your job and other responsibilities. You may call in sick often, stop returning calls and emails, or regularly come in late.
  • Feelings of apathy and hopelessness. This is similar to what is described in the depression and pessimism sections of this article. It presents as a general sense that nothing is going right or nothing matters. As the symptoms worsen, these feelings may become immobilizing, making it seem like "what's the point?"
  • Increased irritability. Irritability often stems from feeling ineffective, unimportant, useless, and an increasing sense that you're not able to do things as efficiently or effectively as you once did. In the early stages, this can interfere in personal and professional relationships. At its worst, it can destroy relationships and careers.
  • Lack of productivity and poor performance. Despite long hours, chronic stress prevents you from being as productive as you once were, which often results in incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list. At times, it seems that as hard as you try, you can't climb out from under the pile.
How do you cure burnout? I wish I had the answer for you. I know that it's a form of stress, and so anything which reduces the amount of stress in your life ought to halt (and hopefully reverse) burnout. Having someone to confide in can help with this by letting you vent your feeling in a safe manner, and having someone you trust take some of the work from you can reduce your amount of work and responsibility, which is vitally important during and after an emergency. This is why having a "tribe" is so important. 

Unfortunately, I don't really have anyone like that in my life right now. This means that I sometimes have to take breaks from posting here. I hope you won't hold that against me. 

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the captain has to take a break so that they have clear head to keep the ship safe.

    It's a strong person who can admit that.

    This is a good article and you've made a good decision to take some much needed rest.


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