As I write this, we are more than thirteen months into pandemic life. Even as more and more people are getting vaccinated, and society is showing signs of opening back up, many of us feel more exhausted and more depleted now than we have from the start.
The term ‘burnout’ has been popping up often in conversations, commentary, and social media posts. The World Health Organization defines burnout as an occupational hazard that is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- reduced professional efficacy.
Check, check, check, am I right? But WHO also makes explicit that burnout refers exclusively to employment and should not be applied to other experiences. Surely, I can’t be the only one who fits these criteria in other parts of my life, as well? Everything feels harder; it all takes so much more effort. Whether I am working, or parenting, or trying to engage with other people, I am going through the motions with a distinct lack of joy, excitement, and — most significantly — energy.
When it comes to our work we may be burned out, but when it comes to the rest of our lives, something else is going on.