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!




The Body Image Crisis

Let’s face it. We all have concerns with the way we look. Things that we wish we could change. Whether that be your weight, your height, the amount of muscles you have, or even a specific part of your body that could be tweaked ever so slightly. We are all chasing an idea of perfection. Because somehow, achieving that perfect body will allow us to excel in our lives or give us the confidence that we know we have.


The Truth About Confidence

Confidence actually is just another by-product of happiness. Sounds too simple, right? The more that we work towards our happier selves, the more risks you are willing to take, the more your self-esteem rises, thereby boosting your confidence. All it takes is for you to finally invest some time and energy into yourself. No, it’s not selfish. No, you aren’t a horrible person for allocating some “you” time. People who care about you are more understanding than that. Just give them a chance.

Also, and this is pretty important, sometimes your confidence can rise simply by faking it. How? Act like you have that perfect body, or that perfect life. Nothing can bring you down today. You have that million dollars and you aren’t worrying about anything because everything is perfect.

It’s hard work. It truly is. Some days you may not even have the energy to keep it up but it is so worth it for one simple reason: you end up believing it.


A great way to reinforce this is to talk to yourself, preferably in front of a mirror. Tell yourself everything that you need to hear. Listen to positive songs in the morning even if you don’t always want to. And more importantly, tell yourself “I feel great today”.

Your mind has a funny way of turning these simple affirmations into truths.


Media and Societal Pressures

We are surrounded by models, actors, and artists that look a certain way. As if somehow achieving this look would magically grant us success. At least now there is more inclusion of different races and body types being portrayed.

Understand that this is just another business. These people work so hard to look a certain way and maintain themselves. So don’t worry that you don’t look like that. Be proud of you. You are a constantly evolving, beautiful creature that does not deserve to worry about that.

If there are things that you wish to change (especially your weight), work towards it and celebrate every little victory and every little milestone that you reach. Do not work towards a change to achieve a certain look. Do it for what benefits it will provide you (for instance, your health, the increased energy, the ability to do more with your friends or your family).

People react based on the information that the media provides them. What is true today, may not be true tomorrow. What one person hates, another person loves. It all falls back down to you. You are you. You cannot change the colour of your skin, your background, or your race. So why bother?

The human race is built on uniqueness of each and every person. No one thinks 100% like you, acts like you, knows what you know. Cherish it.

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So, stop telling yourself that you’re too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, or just not good enough because guess what? You are. We all have a place in this chaotic little world.

Go out into the world and show them the power of you!

The Body and the Mind



There is a direct correlation between our mental and physical health. Stress, anxiety, and depression can have a direct effect on your immune system, sleep patterns, and much more. Those of us with depression can tell you that physical health is usually just put on the back burner. However, by paying attention to your body, you might be able to give yourself just enough of a boost to begin picking yourself back up again.


The Foods We Eat


Yes, junk food is convenient. Yes, cooking requires some effort. It’s not that hard though! All you have to do is wake up 15 minutes earlier in order to enjoy a healthy breakfast. That’s it.

Processed foods contain a lot of sodium and sugar, causing us to feel spikes in energy and mood. We feel drowsy. Snack a little. Feel better. Then crash. You will notice that this doesn’t happen when you opt for healthier snacks, rich in vitamins, fibre, and protein.

We can go on and on and on about the recipes you can choose. There’s hundreds all over the internet, grouped by dietary restrictions, preferences, etc.

Do you feel hungry a lot? Ask yourself if you are getting enough protein. Do you feel drowsy? See if you are getting enough vitamins D and B12. As vegetarians, we usually have a bit of deficiency in these vitamins as well as iron.

A good way to keep track of your diet is logging the foods you eat. The app that I would recommend to do this is: My Fitness Pal. It gives you a goal caloric intake amount for the day as well as a recommended macronutrient amount. You can easily see if you have had too much sodium, fat, or sugar in one day.

Just to clarify, the goal is not to eat less but eat better.


Physical Activity/Exercise


Going old-school with clipart!

I know that I have touched upon this one before. Living a sedentary lifestyle affects both your mental well-being as well as your physical health. I know there are a million reasons that you could give me about not adding activities to your day: you are tired, you have too much to do, you’re too stressed, there’s no time, etc etc.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to work out  for an hour a day for seven days a week. That’s just not practical. Do whatever you can. However little it may be. Start with half an hour, three days a week. You can even split that into two 15 minute sessions. Go for a brief walk, ride a bicycle around your neighbourhood, join a sports team.

This movement allows you to have more energy, increases your mood, and allows you to unwind for a moment. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?


The Importance of Water

Many of us who have tried to lose weight find that we aren’t losing as much as we would have thought. Sometimes, the culprit is water retention. If you don’t drink enough water per day, your body will think it’s being dehydrated and will store the water for future use.

Dehydration is another cause for feeling tired. Especially in the mornings. You have just spent roughly 7-8 in bed, without a drop of water. Yes, you are thirsty. It’s such a simple solution that it almost sounds ridiculous, but drinking a glass of water in the morning will help you feel a bit more alert.


Time to Unwind


Above all else, make sure you give yourself some time to unwind. Do something that eases your mind. It could be something as simple as listening to music, reading a book, or taking a bath. In the pursuit of juggling a healthy lifestyle, your career, your family, and whatever else you have going on in your life, make sure you do this to avoid feeling burnt out. Take a break. Breathe for a moment. Then, tackle everything once again.


The Bigger Picture

These little, tiny things may actually improve your mood over time, but it does take time. Understand that some days will be easier than others. Forgive yourself for not following through on everything and strive to do your best. I know that some of you may be thinking that this is stupid or that this will not help you. It does. Just have patience.


Above all, be the best that you can be!