How to Avoid Depression and Burn-Out
By Dr Martin W. Russell
Depression and burnout seem to be at all time highs. Maybe it is just awareness of the issues, but figures above 10% each year seem to now be thought of as common.
As a medical doctor working exclusively in counseling and therapy I've observed people come to me over the years complaining of being stressed and burnt out. They come with a wide variety of problems and diagnoses, from straight out suicidal depression, to simply feeling like they can't get out of bed in the morning. From paralyzing panic attacks to a pervasive feeling of no longer being able to live up to the expectations other people have for them. In my experience there are three fundamental ways you can use to avoid letting this depression and burn-out happen...
- Set goals with a pre-determined end point
Life and work can't just be an endless marathon. You need to have sprints as well as rest periods, and have some finish lines along the way. Otherwise the only rest you get is when you collapse from exhaustion, and it's better if you can do that on the other side of a finish line.
Call it a holiday, call it an exit strategy, call it a rest stop, call it a reward for a job well done, but the requirement is the same; you need to plan for the waxing and waning of your motivation. For example, if your goal is "more money", then the striving never ends. If you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed, you will need to clarify how much is enough, or even better, define the lifestyle you want and let that define the amount of money you need to aim for.
- Have a bigger purpose in mind
Life is not just about filling your days with whatever happens to get your attention, and yet there is so much around to choose from. With a bigger purpose you can select what is important for you, or it can be the other way around, what is important to you can be your bigger purpose.
Not that it has to be anything too over the top like ending all cancers, but it is important that it brings out your inner fire and sense of why it is that you would do the sometime challenging or difficult or boring tasks that you will sometimes need to in order to keep going for whatever you are after.
- Make tomorrow build on today
Of the three, this is the one that I find most often missing for people. So often people tell me they have this sense that they just aren't getting anywhere with what they are doing, and it's amazing how often this feeling is correct! For instance with money, these people had spending habits that mean that they were financially better off yesterday than they will be tomorrow.
Sometimes it is simply a matter of identifying the lasting value you are gaining from each day. More often when people come to me burnt out, they have a nagging awareness that their daily activities are not producing results that last. Results such as money kept for themselves, passive income sources, business systems, lasting habits, key relationships, and much more. When you can go to sleep each night knowing that you are better set for the future than the day before, you will have had a worthwhile day.