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Feeling the burn...or burned out?

Readers of a certain age likely remember Jane Fonda urging us to "feel the burn." In a famous workout tape (that word alone should give you some context for how long ago this was) Jane pumped and squatted and leg-lifted to sculpted perfection, all the while exhorting us to follow along and feel the burn. The burn was necessary for improvement. If you weren't burning, you weren't doing it right. I think "no pain, no gain" also came from that era, if not that very video. Certainly, Ms. Fonda popularized the phrase.

While time moderated her admonition, I think many of us still buy into it at some level. After all, f you want results you have to put in the work. Seems reasonable. Rational. Sensible. In fact, we know from our very experience that this is true.

Thing is, there's that line. That line between the right amount and too much. The line between feeling the burn and burnout. Burnout. Just being done with something. Over it. I've had enough. Or I've done this long enough. I'm doing too much. I need to stop.

Burnout, though, is more than going too far. We all may recognize times in our lives when we've had enough of something whether it's a food, an exercise regimen, a location, a job. It could be a feeling of overdosing on something -- the internet, the news, a person. It can be very healthy to see that something is too much and make a change. Fresh starts can be invigorating.

But, if you've reached a point of cynicism, ennui, disillusionment, even depression, then you have gone way beyond doing too much. If you can't remember the last time you really laughed and enjoyed yourself; if every day seems like a bad day; if you really believe that nothing you do matters, you have crossed that line, and you should talk to a professional. When it's all pain there's no space for gain. Sure hard work is good. But too much of anything is too much and if you keep on putting in the work and still feel hopeless, it's time for an objective assessment. Don't neglect yourself.

Life can be hard work and full of difficult choices. And, that never changes. But you can. If you are burned out, reach out. To friends, to family, to professionals. Don't be consumed by the fire. Better to simply shine in your own light.

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