Rusting out versus burning out…

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During my session with M on Monday, we got talking about how much I’ve been taking on.

In particular, he introduced me to the concept of burning out versus rusting out. In his opinion I am not in danger of the latter, but the former is definitely something I need to be aware of.

Burnout can occur when people push themselves too long, challenge themselves too much, and neglect to take a much needed break.

The opposite of burning out is rusting out, where people do not push themselves at all, and basically just live their life essentially waiting to die. No growth occurs, and people get stuck in a rut.

Looking at my life, I’m definitely more at risk of burnout than I am of rusting out. I strive to push myself everyday, to continue learning, to continue growing. I used to have a really bad habit of pushing myself as long and as hard as I could, until I was so burnt out that I ended up in the hospital and off work for weeks or months. I’d like to think that I have learned from those times, but the ups and downs that I have faced recently make me question whether I take enough mitigation steps.

We all have an optimal level where to push ourselves. It’s at this level that the most growth and success happens. The thing I’ve learned about myself is that because of the difficulties I face, my optimum level varies, making it easy to overshoot or undershoot my capabilities. When I overshoot, I get stressed. When I undershoot, I get bored, which is no better.

Still, I’m not in the same place I was. I continue to grow and improve myself, I just need to cut myself some slack when I can’t do what I usually can. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of my mental health issues to cycle, and cycle they do.

I know I keep myself busy. Maybe too busy at time. I just know that when it comes down to living my life, I would rather burnout than whither away from within.


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