The Burnout Effect

We have all been here before. There are countless things still left on the to-do list, deadlines fast approaching, and you have no idea where to begin. We take on as much as we can if it offers a reprieve from another moment inside of your own head. You ride the wave for days, weeks, or months.

And then, it all falls apart.

Suddenly, you don’t have the energy to do a fraction of what you used to do before. The motivation just isn’t there. More than that, you’re exhausted. This is all another symptom of burning out.


Chipping Away At the Problem


Usually, you burn out because of the mounting stress. Perhaps you have just agreed to an inhuman amount of work. Perhaps there are too many events that you had to commit to. Maybe it’s your job. Sometimes, it’s just your need to show the world how much you can do and how valuable you truly are. There is no right answer.

As depression sufferers, we have an added list of reasons for this. Usually it boils down to our own insecurity and self-worth (as is the case with most things). It sounds simple, but it always goes unnoticed.

Take a moment. Tell yourself that you have nothing to prove to anyone. Take a slow, deep breath, really noticing the air filling your lungs; hold it in for a few moments; then, slowly exhale, relaxing every muscle in your body (this includes that brain of yours). Repeat as many times as needed.

Done? Great!

Now, take another look at that to-do list. How much of that is actually important to do right now? Start tackling the most urgent thing first, by breaking it down into tiny little pieces.

For instance: You absolutely have to finish that essay that you’ve been putting off because it looks too complicated, but it’s due tomorrow (cue flashbacks to college days). The essay as a whole is intimidating. Break it down into smaller steps (ex: ensuring that you have done enough research, figuring out the core “sections” of the essay, getting the “easy” paragraphs out of the way, etc.).

Life works in a similar manner. Sometimes, if looking at the bigger picture doesn’t work, you break it down into smaller, manageable steps. Just a hint: there are always smaller steps to tackling a problem.

Someone once told me something important:
“You never look at how tall a mountain is until you reach the top.”

As in, a problem always looks bigger and more intimidating when you are at “the base of the mountain”. It’s only once you get started that you realize how big or small it really is.


Beware the Cycle


Those of us who like to work as hard as possible to escape ourselves face another problem with burnouts – a cycle of behaviour.

Here’s how it looks (roughly speaking):

  1. The sense of accomplishments fuels your self-worth. You feel as if you have a handle on your situation. But, it’s not enough.
  2. You take on more assignments/projects, because after all, you handled the other ones so easily. The rest just have to end up the same way.
  3. Suddenly, you feel exhaustion. You try to take a break, but there’s just too much on your plate right now for that.
  4. The exhaustion continues. The easy tasks become a chore. You feel as if you are a failure because why can’t you just do this one little, simple task?
  5. The awareness creates another opening for depression.
  6. Somehow, you get on your feet, finishing that little task. You are invincible again.
  7. Repeat

The trick is to stop the cycle in its tracks. Realize when you are taking on too much. If you need help, ask for it. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. Every single person needs help with one thing or another. If you no longer can handle a task, so be it. Your well-being is much more important than anything else. People will understand.



Make sure that you are doing something that relaxes you. Add one little item on your to-do list that makes you feel happy. Whether that is singing and dancing around, playing music, drawing, painting, knitting, writing, baking, … whatever it is that brings you joy. This is a high priority item, so make time for it.

No one has that kind of time! I have too much to do! 

You don’t need a lot of time. Even if you manage 10-15 minutes, that’s fine. Even 5 minutes.


Life is stressful. There are many, many obligations that we have. Taking some quality “me-time” makes a world of a difference. Do something good for you. Make yourself a priority in your life!




Reaching Out and Seeking Help – The Basics


At some point during the course of a particularly bad depression spell, we get the notion that perhaps we are not able to handle this on our own. I want to tell you that you are right. Don’t handle this on your own. You don’t have to.

Yes, yes, I understand that you are independent and that you have handled it thus far. I also understand that maybe you don’t have a strong network of people to lean on. You may also think that you are the pillar that must be strong for the others. Every person is allowed to feel vulnerable. Everyone needs a shoulder from time to time.


Understanding the Professional Options

There are two types of professionals who deal with depression – psychiatrists and psychologists. A psychiatrist is able to prescribe medication to help alleviate some symptoms while a psychologist focuses more on behavioural changes. Both serve their purposes. Feel free to speak to a family doctor to determine which option is best for you (based off of budgetary concerns, insurance coverage, etc.).

BE CAREFUL! Not all therapists are built the same, but sometimes the cheaper therapist may not be the right one for you. Understand that it happens. You are baring your soul to someone that you don’t know well. The relationship is based off of trust. Trust that they can help you. Trust that they will not judge. Trust that things take time. Just because one person doesn’t work, doesn’t mean the others won’t either.

There are also other psychologists that subscribe to alternative methods. They may ask to analyze dreams, hypnotherapy, and other non-traditional treatments. The end result should be that you are now better-equipped to handle everything. If this works for you then it works. I am just stating that there are these type of people out there too.

A lot of the suggestions they give sound silly at first (at least that’s what I found), but there is a point to it all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be yourself. With the first psychologist I saw, I withheld a lot of information. I was guarded. I didn’t question what they were telling me. In turn, I became frustrated and my symptoms became worse. The psychologist/psychiatrist will not know what to treat if you do not tell them what is wrong! It’s difficult, but, push through it. Talk to them about your concerns if it helps.

Turning to Family and Friends

This option can be a double-edged sword. Some people are amazing and they may be able to offer the support that you seek. Some … not so much. I know that some of you out there don’t wish to burden a loved one, but they are there for you. Your true family and friends are always with you in their own way.

Note: I use the word “Family” to describe people that you have welcomed in your life that are the closest to you. This does not have to mean blood-relatives.

Things that may happen:

  • They may become concerned about your well-being. That’s normal! Besides, you may need someone in your corner ensuring that you are taking care of yourself.
  • Some (the negative influences) will switch this situation and make it about themselves. What they did wrong. What they would have done. Why did this happen to them? (You are now imaging someone who will behave like this. I advise not to turn to this person … at least not right away).
  • Some will then open up about what they are feeling. That’s okay too. Just remember that it is okay to think selfishly every now and then. You don’t always want to be reminded of all the bad things in the world.
  • You realize that maybe having someone listen is enough (sometimes).

Sometimes an unlikely person may become someone a trusted confidante. You never know until you find a way to trust another person.


Support Groups

Yes, these things still exist! Sometimes, this can be beneficial but it depends on you. What you tend to do in these types of situations.

Some people can share their experiences and find comfort through the small community environment. They are able to offer you suggestions on what you can do and share information about what works for them.

Some people remain more closed off. It may seem overwhelming at first, opening up to new people. Sometimes you hear stories that make you feel worse because they may be going through something worse (in your opinion).

Personally, I try avoiding this. BUT that’s just me. In these situations, I don’t voice my issues, rather I try to listen to everyone and help them out.

The experiences are different for everyone. There are so many factors involved with this option. Feel free to try this out and as stated before, if one doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean that the others will not work as well.


With all the options available to you, you do not have to suffer alone. Try them out. You never know until you try.

If you feel as if no one is available, feel free to drop me a line. You can email me directly at:

Have a lovely weekend! We are nearing the end of the summer so go out and enjoy it!