How Unhealthy Ambition Can Lead To Burnout, From A Reiki Master


Research shows that a leading factor of mental burnout is prolonged stress, but it can be difficult to recognize those triggers, especially if they may be disguised as ambition. Take it from Patel: “I thought I was an overachiever,” she recounts on the mbg podcast. “It was this idea that I could keep going, but I didn’t realize I was suffering in the process.” 

Finding that slight overlap between ambition and exhaustion, says Patel, is the key to identifying your burnout. In terms of what that looks like in practice, here’s a prime example: “It could be this feeling that there’s always more to do,” she explains. Even after a busy workday, a nagging feeling may creep up that you haven’t done enough—you may feel determined, yet overwhelmed (burnout’s favorite pair of emotions, according to Patel).

Additionally, “it’s noticing if your mind is continuing to race.” For example, you may brainstorm other activities you could be doing before you even complete the task at-hand. When this happens, your go-getter attitude may have an opposite effect, leaving you feeling unfulfilled and overworked. Research backs it up, too: One study even found that mental burnout can lead to inadequate job performance and satisfaction in some people.

So, the next time you catch yourself attempting to start another project as soon as you finish the one prior, try taking a mindful break to clear your head and acknowledge the task you just completed. It is important to recognize your small wins throughout the day, as it may lead you to feeling more satisfied and optimistic within your daily routine. In fact, pausing for a short break is just one of the many ways to bounce back from a burnout.

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