What’s Your Burnout Breaking Point?

You’re feeling burnt out at your job. But how bad does it have to feel before you recognize when it’s time to leave?

I remember clutching my chest and keeling over, a way of anxiety overtaking my body. My heart was beating so fast that I felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I discreetly made my way into the break room and sat with a glass of water, waiting for my heart to slow down to it’s normal pace.

Six months earlier, changes were made to the management team in my corporation which resulted in a domino effect of staff leaving to pursue other options. I was left picking up the slack in what was already a fast-paced field, and I started getting heart palpitations on a daily basis. Even hours after arriving home after a long day, I couldn’t seem to fully relax my stressed body.

I went to consult a doctor and asked him how long I could keep working with heart palpitations before it became a real issue (“real issue” being…hospitalization?). He said that he didn’t have an answer, and that it was up to me to make a decision about my job. I left the clinic frustrated and worried, because deep down I was hoping to use a doctor’s note as an excuse to take time off.

I always thought that I’d quit and find something else, if any job I worked at got to be unbearably stressful. But when I was in the thick of feeling stressed, I realized that I couldn’t determine if it was serious enough to leave.

I always thought that if any job I worked at got to be unbearably stressful, that I’d just quit and find something else. But when I was in the thick of feeling stressed, I realised that I couldn’t determine if I was stressed enough. I was physically able to go to work and do my job, so I wasn’t sure I could justify making what felt like a bold move to leave.

And I think the biggest reason I didn’t leave as soon as I could have was because I didn’t hate the work itself. I liked the content of my work, and after a couple years of being in the corporation, I was in line to be manager. I was also attached to the relationships I had built with the people in the corporation.

Even though I was having heart palpitations from work stress, I wasn’t ready to find another job in other fields I was not familiar with, only to start at entry level and work my way up. Surely, all of the stress I was putting on my body had to amount to something…a promotion? A raise?

Career wise, I wasn’t at a place where I was ready to move on, even though my body was screaming to stop.

But if heart palpitations weren’t enough of a sign for me to stop working, I had to ask myself what kind of evidence I needed to allow myself to change my situation. And since I would have to work for an additional month after putting in a notice, I felt more pressure to make a decision sooner than later.

Career wise, I wasn’t at a place where I was ready to move on, even though my body was screaming to stop.

So I sat myself down and looked at the facts. The company hadn’t managed to hire new people in the six months since people had been leaving, so I had reason to believe that I would be overworked indefinitely.

I also re-evaluated my job values, and realised that a fulfilling job is one that is stimulating, but that doesn’t cause me health issues. I had to believe that there was a better job I could find with work life balance. And it was these two facts that helped me move on and be even happier and healthier because of it.

Collectively, we tend to put our health last when it comes to work, paying the bills, and getting ahead in our goals. And when your health is the one thing that is holding you back, you start to think of all of the things you’ll lose if you make a change, like all of the years you contributed to the company, all of the relationships you’ve built, and all of the monetary benefits you were working toward. It’s easy to overlook all of the energy and happiness we can gain from treating our bodies right.

It’s easy to overlook all of the energy and happiness we can gain from treating our bodies right.

So if you’re at a point in your job where it’s taking a toll on your body, start to lay out the facts in front of you, and do a self-assessment to gain clarity on your situation. A step towards health is a step towards wealth.

Katheryn Gronauer teaches Food Energetics to gals who know a ton of diet info but are stuck making it work. Watch the free Food Energetics training videos to learn more.