I love a good pumpkin spice latte just as much as the next person, but I will still gladly choose summer over fall any day of the week. Despite the fact that autumn is the most popular season, the cooler weather and shorter days just don’t do it for me (even though I’ll never turn down an opportunity to watch my favorite comfort show). Truth be told, I often find myself unmotivated to work hard and reach my goals during this time of year. So if you’re like me and also find the transition from summer to fall a nightmare for your work life, there’s a strong chance you’re no stranger to “autumn burnout.”
What is “autumn burnout,” and what causes it?
The term “autumn burnout” refers to feeling completely mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted during the transition from summer to fall. While this can stem from things such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it’s often a direct result of the increased pressures and demands that go against our biological body clock.
Where summer is all about relaxation and long days outside filled with vitamin D, fall is all about cooler weather, shorter days, and more time spent indoors. Not only can this lack of physical activity and sunlight seriously affect our energy levels, but it can also leave us feeling unmotivated to work hard and reach our goals. Plus, transition anxiety is very real, and a change in season and climate can be triggering for those who have a hard time dealing with change.
Signs you’re suffering from autumn burnout
While everyone is different, there are some telltale signs that mean you’re suffering from autumn burnout. So, use these universal red flags to spot when you’re approaching or suffering from burnout this fall:
1. You feel unmotivated and exhausted
If you’re dreading what’s on your calendar, are struggling to complete tasks, and feel overwhelmed by literally everything, you’re likely suffering from autumn burnout. This is especially true if these feelings are ongoing. Unlike normal fatigue, exhaustion burnout can’t be cured by a good night’s sleep, and taking a work break won’t restore your motivation or ambition.
2. You’re experiencing sleep issues
It’s no secret that getting the right amount of beauty rest each night is imperative for your health, but you’re more likely to experience sleep issues when you’re burnt out. This is because stress releases adrenaline and cortisol, and these two hormones trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response and in turn make you more alert. If you’re feeling particularly stressed during the day and are having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, it’s likely a result of burnout.
3. You’re apathetic about your job
They say if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life, but I beg to differ. While I love my job and wouldn’t change it for a thing, there are still days when work feels like work. So if you’re passionate about your career but find yourself growing indifferent towards or frustrated with it, you’re likely burnt out. Likewise, experiencing decreased productivity and overall work performance are also major signs of autumn burnout.
4. You’re cynical and irritable
Cynicism and irritability are two major red flags that you’re approaching burnout or are already there. After all, burnout makes you more susceptible to lower mood levels because it depletes your mental, emotional, and physical resources. If you’re more pessimistic than usual, there’s a strong chance you’re experiencing autumn burnout.
How to treat autumn burnout
1. Prioritize a healthy work-life balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is truly key to treating burnout as the seasons change. This means setting boundaries between your work and personal life—not answering emails after a certain time, clocking in and out at a reasonable hour, making your weekends all about you and forgetting about work, and so on. Additionally, give yourself time to recharge every single day. Let yourself indulge in a morning workout or a nice breakfast and unwind with some reading or journaling in the evening after work. Setting aside time for yourself will allow you to decompress, de-stress, and release whatever’s bothering you.
2. Focus on your health
Health is wealth, and you naturally feel more motivated and perform better at work when you feel good inside and out. So, treat burnout by prioritizing getting enough sleep every night, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and eating well. You’ll feel strong and well-equipped to handle whatever comes your way and able to thwart burnout easily because you’ll feel good. Plus, taking care of yourself will make you feel proud and accomplished.
3. Plan ahead
Planning ahead is one of the easiest ways to ease anxiety and stay grounded and calm during times of stress and pressure. Set aside time before the start of each week (on Friday or Sunday) and plan out your schedule; your schedule should include work priorities and tasks, chores, and other necessary appointments or errands you have to get done. By taking the time to do this, you’ll remove one extra step for yourself in the morning—you won’t have to wake up and plan out your day. In turn, this will make your days seamless, and your productivity will soar.
4. Stay connected
Isolation is one of the worst things for your mental health, and becoming disconnected is easier than ever thanks to remote jobs and busy schedules. For this reason, make an active effort to stay connected to the important people in your life on a regular basis. Regardless of whether you text or meet in person, talking to others will remind you that you’re not alone and will help you get out or stay out of a funk.