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Have you ever worried you were suffering from burnout? It's a REAL thing and knowing the signs of burnout is one of the most important steps for keeping your mental health and physical health from deteriorating. I'm pinning this to remind myself!

A person can be their own largest liability.  Ever work yourself into a tizzy?  Been too exhausted to do your best?  Think you’re ready to quit even though it’s the best job you’ve ever had?

Could you simply be burned out?

Burnout is a HUGE differentiating factor between success and failure in many fields, especially pet sitting.  I’m starting to understand the full ramifications from my own experiences, stories from other pet sitters, and from attending the 2016 Petsittingology Conference.

Signs of Professional Burnout

These are a combination of signs I’ve either noticed or found at the Mayo Clinic online:

  • You become more cynical and pessimistic than usual.
  • You start dreading calls and texts offering you new business instead of being excited.
  • It’s hard to want to go to a job and/or it’s hard to start when you’re there.
  • You start spending less time at each job or task.
  • You start to justify a worse work ethic.
  • You start eating and/or drinking more to cope.
  • Your sleeping or eating habits are changing for the worse.
  • You are developing unexplained aches and pains.

Luckily, even if you are suffering from burnout, there are ways of bouncing back.

Ways to Recover from Professional Burnout

Here are methods I use myself to avoid burnout usually.  If I forget to follow my own advice (no one’s perfect or even close to it), these are ways of getting back on track too.

  • Schedule in a regular social life.
  • Saying no is okay.
  • Train your clients.
  • Drop toxic clients.
  • Take time off – be fully away.
  • Evaluate your “why”.  Knowing why you do what you do can help you reconnect (thanks for the reminder, Laura).
  • Exercise…commenter Mike says it can help big time!

My Own Experiences

I know myself better each day.  I’m an extrovert.  With that in mind, I have an actual, solid social life that includes a weekly girls’ night, bimonthly movie nights at my house, monthly meet-ups with family, and we host once-a-month potlucks for our board gaming friends.

I also usually say “no” when I should.  That means saying no to jobs with toxic clients, saying no to jobs with difficult pets, saying no to invitations to places or events when I don’t have the energy, etc.

“Training” my clients is usually as simple as setting boundaries and sticking to them.  For pet sitting, that means charging the extra $10 per visit when given short notice or on holidays.  It also means being very forthcoming when we first meet and are discussing the specific pet sitting plan.  Several of my clients have said it is easy to respect me since I do respect myself.

I have dropped three toxic clients so far.  They wouldn’t respect my time as much as theirs or they treated their pets worse than my personal boundaries were okay with (but not bad enough to be able to report them to anybody official).  We don’t have any current clients that make our life hell.

I do take time off.  Sometimes it’s just an hour here or there that can be stolen away.  I also try to fit in full days off at least a couple of times a month.  Then several times a year, I disappear from all of my work –online and pet sitting.  Cruises and trips to other cities help me take a breather from everything.  Side bonus, my husband and I reconnect while being away.

Any Step Counts

Even if you are not able to hit every suggestion to avoid burnout, try implementing just one burnout avoidance method right now.  Schedule time with friends or family this week or cut the most toxic client you have.  Pick just one thing and implement it as soon as possible.

How do you avoid burnout?  What method are you implementing right now?