Let’s face it: A lot of us are working a lot of hours. A lot.

Sometimes it is because our primary job is extremely demanding. Maybe we are in a job where there is too much to do, not enough people to do it, and a management approach that rewards a willingness to work and work and work. Maybe we are in a service profession, in which long hours are seen as the norm.

Sometimes it is because our side hustle (or side hustles) adds a significant number of hours to our work week. The paycheck from our primary gig might not be enough to keep the household going, and so we take on additional jobs, filling our nights and weekends with work rather than relaxation.

Sometimes it is because we have succumbed to the so-called “cult of busyness”, a sort of social pressure that conflates being busy with being important.

Sometimes it is because our job has become a substitute addiction. Maybe we have replaced our drug or alcohol use with “workaholic” tendencies. First to arrive and last to leave and likely eating at our desks, we find ourselves sober but nevertheless still exhibiting behaviors associated with addiction.

No matter the reason we are working so much, we are putting ourselves at risk of burnout. And burnout puts both our mental health and our recovery at risk.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends Leads to Burnout

At first blush, it might seem odd to ask how you can tell if you are experiencing burnout. You would think it would be pretty obvious. But when you are in the midst of it, you may become habituated to the seemingly endless work and miss the signs. Those signs may include:

  • Feelings of stress that never seem to subside—even when you are not at work.
  • Ongoing irritability, anger, and/or sadness
  • Being both extremely tired and unable to sleep
  • An increased tendency to get sick and/or the development of conditions including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease
  • Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism

Obviously, these symptoms indicate that something is going on that is more than high levels of dedication to your job. Burnout can damage your physical and mental health and can underpin the development of substance use disorder—or, for those in recovery, fuel a relapse.

Honesty Is the Best Policy for Battling Burnout

It is easy to be in denial about burnout. It would be far better to be honest about the issue.

  • Be honest with yourself: If the symptoms of burnout listed above sound and feel familiar to you, it is time to take a step back and look for ways to find a healthier balance between work and the other areas of your life.
  • Be honest about what you have been neglecting: Maybe you can’t remember the last time you got some exercise. Maybe everything you have eaten for the last two days (or five days or ten days) has come out of a wrapper from a fast food joint or vending machine. Maybe you have missed important events with your family or friends. Maybe you don’t remember the last time you got at least seven hours of sleep at a stretch. Remembering what is being neglected can motivate you to make some changes.
  • Be honest with your boss: We know it might not be easy to approach your supervisor with the message that you need to rebalance your life for the sake of your mental health and/or your recovery. But the truth is that making those changes will likely make you a better employee because you will be healthier and happier. Ideally, your boss will hear you out and help you make adjustments that will be good for both you and your company. But if that is not the case, it is probably time to consider other employment options.
  • Be honest about the job itself: It is important to note that symptoms of burnout can be a sign you are in the wrong job. If you are working harder and harder but getting no satisfaction from the job (or recognition from the boss), it may well be a sign that it is time to move on. That may be especially true if your employer has unreasonable demands that push you and others toward burnout. One obvious sign that you might be in the wrong workplace is if you cannot imagine raising your concerns with your boss for fear of how they might be received.
  • Be honest about what is at stake: If you are in recovery, it is imperative that you do not let your job become a threat to your sobriety. Similarly, if you struggle with a mental health disorder and your workplace seems to make things worse when it comes to depression, anxiety, or other issues, it is important to remind yourself that your well-being is in jeopardy. Remembering the stakes is a good way to encourage yourself to make positive choices and changes.

We Can Help at Wooded Glen Recovery Center

At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we offer evidence-based, personalized treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. We are committed to providing the resources, strategies, and support necessary to help you reclaim your sobriety, improve your mental health, or both. As part of that process, we will make sure you are aware of the variety of pitfalls—including the dangers of burnout—that could threaten or undermine your hard-won progress. If you are struggling, we are here to help.

Looking for an addiction rehab in Indiana? For more information about Wooded Glen Recovery Center, contact us at (888) 351-0650. We are ready to help.