How To Tell Whether You’re Burnt Out… Or Just Lazy

"Being lazy is the absence of effort."

It’s fairly safe to say, we’ve all been having a bit of a tough time lately. What with COVID and the lockdowns that came with it, plus the fact that World War III could start at any second… All of these things have resulted in many people feeling ‘burnt out’.

But as an interesting Instagram post has pointed out, there actually is a difference between being burnt out and being just plain old lazy. So, how can you know whether you are genuinely burnt out or whether you’ve got a case of the lazy bones?

The Instagram post, posted by user @successtheory.co lists the six signs of genuine burnout as,

“You feel disconnected from everything, you used to be motivated, you used to be passionate, you’ve become moody and irritable, you’ve neglected your self-care [and] these changes happened gradually.”

This in mind, we spoke to Luke McLeod, founder and Meditation Guide at Soul Alive – Australia’s first dedicated virtual meditation studio – and he outlined the differences between burnout and laziness for us; saying that effort (whether it’s there or not) is a key thing to look out for.

A screenshot of @successtheory.co’s post.

“I think the most obvious difference [between burnout and laziness] is the pre-exerted level of effort that has resulted in feeling fatigued. Burnout is the outcome when you’ve depleted yourself mentally and physically and are struggling to function. Being lazy is the absence of effort. It’s more of a character trait rather than an outcome/result of energy.”

If you’re reading this and feel like you are becoming, or already are, burnt out, firstly, you’re not alone. And secondly, there are things you can do to manage and help it. As Luke advises, make sure you look after yourself.

“The tricky part with burn-out is not so much what has caused you to feel that way but being able to ‘catch’ yourself before you get to that point. Meaning the real problem is a lack of self-awareness. We just keep pushing and use excuses like ‘I don’t have time’, which is ironic because you’ll eventually reach a point where you are forced to make time to take care of yourself – that’s the point you reach when you’re burnt out.”

“So my number one piece of advice for those feeling burnt out… invest in developing your level of self-awareness to avoid reaching that point in the first place. Swallow your ego and begin to actually look after yourself.”

Luke McLeod

You can also follow the simple but effective advice that Instagram user @successtheory.co added to their post, which entails getting “a good night’s sleep, spending time with loved ones, engaging in physical activities, remaining hydrated, putting away your digital devices, trying meditation or yoga, and learning to say NO”.

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