You work hard to accomplish your goals. But have you ever stopped and wondered what might happen if you work too hard?
Burnout is a serious concern amongst today’s working women. When it comes to burnout, it’s not just about working long hours. It’s about letting your work dominate your entire lifestyle, from when you look at emails from how you interact with your friends and family.
Photographer Anna McNaught knows this all too well. When McNaught was working to launch her blog in 2016, she overworked herself to the point of exhaustion. “All of a sudden, I couldn’t see my computer screen and words disappeared off the page,” McNaught said. “I couldn’t get through a sentence. I couldn’t remember words.”
McNaught’s full-body meltdown didn’t happen randomly; she acknowledges that there was lead up to her moment of severe burnout. “I had just launched my new blog and was feeling stressed out,” McNaught said. “I was reading everything, promoting everything, pushing everything… needless to say, it was total insanity in my brain.”
By working non-stop, McNaught didn’t give herself a chance to relax and take breaks. She was working full-time as she launched her blog, and every activity she engaged in outside of that continued to focus on her work.
“I wasn’t giving myself a chance to work out, relax, take a break or anything,” McNaught said. “I would go to bed brainstorming blog ideas and wake up checking my email. It was a disaster.”
Despite the initial warning signs of stress, McNaught thought that by learning as much as she could as fast as she could, she was doing herself a favor. “I thought I was speeding up the process,” McNaught said. “I didn’t think I would crash at such a split-second notice.”
When McNaught did burnout, many of her co-workers thought that McNaught was suffering from an anxiety attack. “I have anxiety and knew this was not an anxiety attack, but I couldn’t find the words to say so,” McNaught said. “I turned to my co-worker and tried to tell her, but I slurred all my words together.
“I was able to walk down the hall to HR who asked me some basic questions that I couldn’t answer. She asked me where I live and for my fiance’s phone number. My mind was totally blank. I thought I was having a stroke at 26 years old.”
After weeks of testing, McNaught was diagnosed with severe migraines and told to take it easy. She took time off of work and stepped back from her blog to de-stress and refocus her goals. Today, she prioritizes centering herself just as much as she focuses on growing her business.
“Since then, I’ve cut way back on multitasking,” McNaught said. “I work extremely hard but I can now feel when I need a break. I now try to focus more on meditation, working out, reading and relaxing before bed and setting aside work and play days.”
McNaught thanks her support system for helping her find the balance that she’s achieved today. She listens to their advice — and to her body — a lot more.
“I know how it feels to be under strict deadlines for yourself and for others,” McNaught said. “It’s easy to let our minds slip into a constant workflow, but it’s hard to get them to unwind. Unwinding is the key to avoiding burnout!”