Thursday, December 2, 2010

Worn Out and Maybe Burned Out

Ever feel worn out and/or burned out?  Don’t worry you aren’t alone.  As a matter of fact most people have this happen to them and I have it happening right now.  I even started a this thread on SQLServerCentral to get some advice about it.  This is why my blogging has been limited recently, I just don’t want to be on my computer once I get home from work.  I’ve basically been just keeping up with email via my phone. 

So what started it?

Really, I can’t point to one thing that started it, but I can say that between some bad lifestyle choices and a confluence of life events probably led to it. 

First the bad lifestyle choices:

  1. Bad diet.  I was munching on junk food all the time, particularly at night, the worst time to do that.
  2. No exercise.  I used to at least play basketball on a regular basis, but I let that fall off and never replaced it with anything.
  3. Not enough sleep.  I wasn’t doing anything, but I wasn’t sleeping well either.

Now the life events:

  1. Potential work change.  I don’t know if I’m mentioned this before, but my current position at New Tribes Mission is a 4 year commitment that ends at the end of June 2011.  I know it seems far away but my wife and I believe we need to make a decision by the end of January so both NTM and we can make the necessary plans.  You can read more about this on our ministry blog here & here.  This could also lead to a change in fields.  I still enjoy working with SQL Server and doing development work, but not like I used to when I‘d dream in code.
  2. Alice’s Dad, my father-in-law, being diagnosed and having surgery for stomach cancer, subsequently entering a nursing home, and being told he is terminal.  You can follow this here.
  3. Our middle child, Evan (9), breaking his left arm at school, a “nasty” break according to the orthopedic surgeon.  He required a plate and 6 screws.
  4. Semi-crunch time on the never ending project at the office.

All this led to my ending up in the ER the Sunday before Thanksgiving because I had chest pains.  I ended up spending the night in the hospital for observation.  Praise the Lord, I hadn’t had a heart attack, but I am dealing with some kind of digestive issue still to be determined and high cholesterol. 

So how do I get out of it?

Well, oddly enough I started coming out of it the week before I ended up in the hospital.  I spoke with my boss about the potential work change and started walking before work and at lunch.  Of course, being in the hospital tends to send you back into a funk.  Added to that I found out my father has cancer in the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck…

Here’s what I’m trying to help me get re-motivated and help me avoid it in the future:

  1. Exercise.  I had started before I went to the hospital and it was helping, now with high cholesterol I need to do it even more.  Still keeping at a walk until I finish some follow-up doctor visits, but it IS making a difference in my energy level and ability to focus.
  2. Diet.  Again this is partly due to medical issues, but I’m on a low fat diet and eating more fruits and vegetables.  I’m hungry a lot because of reduced portions and not as much snacking, but it is helping as well.
  3. Sleep.   Getting enough rest is definitely important for anyone to function at an optimal level.  The amount of sleep each person needs will vary, but if you are struggling every day, it is probably time to get some rest.
  4. Priorities.  Just getting one thing accomplished each day is a motivator.  I need to do a better job of setting tasks so I can check something off each day.
  5. Friends.  Just getting advice on the thread I started on SSC and talking with friends and family has made a big difference.  Talking about problems is hard, but it is necessary.
  6. Perspective.  In the grand scheme of things my life is pretty good.  I have a job where I can take a week off to help care for my children without issues, who else can say that?  See my What I’m Thankful For post for other things.
  7. Faith.  This is part of who I am and really does help me get through some tough times.  Knowing that God has a plan helps me to relax and not worry. 

What about you?  Have you been there?  What have you done to overcome it?


  1. I know you've stated faith as #7, but I'll state this explicitly because it's more than just knowing God has a plan, it's an active step to move past your current malaise: pray.

    Oh, and because you brought up #3, "Sleep is for mere mortals." ;-)

  2. Sorry to hear Jack. My Dad lost his battle w/ cancer at 50 a couple of years ago. Recently, I've been going through a difficult divorce, all of the stress does take a toll. Keep your chin up!

  3. I feel the same way now too. I even tried switching jobs with in my company but now I feel as if I’m doing twice the work because my old group didn't hire anyone with the skills and they call me at least 4 times a week for help or as they call it "guidance" to clear my mind I and distress I play Xbox 360.

  4. Brian,

    Definitely prayer is a big part of it. You can't know the plan and understand without communication with God, so prayer and Bible study are necessary.

  5. Tommy,

    Sorry to hear about your Dad and especially your divorce at this time. I can't imagine what I'd feel like if I were going through a divorce. I'll add you to my prayer list.

  6. Gogorichie,

    Switching positions is definitely one of the options to get out of burnout, but certainly not if you are continually pulled back into the old role. Sounds like you need to talk to your new boss about it.

    Before I had kids video games were a release for me as well. We don't have a game console and don't spend money on PC games so my video game play is limited.

  7. Jack, I'm glad to hear that the chest pain wasn't more serious, that's scary stuff. I'm suffering a bit of the same, overloaded, trying to find ways to do less and yet still satisfy my itch to do more in places. Following your plan will help, and I think once you get a decision made about work that will help a bunch.

  8. Thanks Andy. Definitely a decision about work will help. Not sure when that'll happen though.


So what do you think I am?