Recognizing the Signs of Burnout

By Oretta Croushore, Property Manager for Home Rental Services

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend my first ever National Association of Residential Property Managers convention. This year, it was held right here in Kansas City. I have to admit, I was a little bummed not to be traveling for the convention. I was picturing a fabulous break from my real life for a few days. We did the next best thing to going out of town, we stayed in town.

Staying at the convention hotel gave me the opportunity to really get the whole experience. I met some awesome people, who do the same things I do, from all over the country. We told stories that only other property managers would laugh at. You know, the kind where you find yourself saying, “never mind, you had to be there,” when you try to retell them later. 

On the first day, I went to a special breakfast for other first timers. We got to meet current and past NARPM board members and find out a little about what to expect. The veterans all gave the same caveat about not being overwhelmed by all the new ideas and information you would pick up. (They were so right.) I came back with a notebook full of ideas!

There was one session which impacted me the most. It was called Recognizing the Signs of Burnout. I probably wouldn’t have attended that session if there was anything else relevant to my position going on at that time. It must have been fate because I realized pretty quickly into the hour, this was right where I needed to be and what I needed to hear. 

The speaker told her story. She talked about the years of being a business woman/mother/community member extraordinaire. As she looks back, it’s completely obvious to her now that she was burned out. She was trying to be everything to everybody but forgot to take care of herself. I sat there, in stunned silence, as I heard this woman I’ve never met tell a different version of what is going on with me. 

Work Hoarding and Boundary Issues

How do you know if you are headed down burnout alley or maybe you have already arrived at your destination? One indicator is work hoarding. This is when we think we can do it all. Either because we don’t trust others to do it the right way or we don’t know how to ask, we just take everything on. Failing to set boundaries is another sign. This is where we create our work/life balance. Just because you can get your work email on your phone, doesn’t mean you have to check it on your off time.

Another key indicator that you are working on a burn, is pushing through the signs your body is trying to give you. A headache to remind you you haven’t eaten lunch. A stiff neck tells you that you’ve been staring at the computer too long. Ignoring it doesn’t usually make it go away.

Buzz Word: Self Care

It’s been said, the only way out is through. Your GPS might be having an issue finding a route out; mine is. The best thing you can do for yourself when you start to feel that burn is good old fashioned self care. It’s a buzz word. I have a love/hate relationship with it. In its purest form, you have got to carve out some time for yourself. I don’t mean eating a Snickers bar and scrolling through Facebook while you hide in the bathroom from a toddler. (No shame in that, though).

I’m talking about time that you carve out to purposefully and mindfully do something for yourself! I heard that and thought I might as well have suggested I rebuild my transmission because I’m about as equally equipped for both. Everyone’s self-care looks different. It can be exercise, a walk, just being in nature, listening to soothing music, listening to loud music, getting dressed up and looking nice just because, carving out personal space, journaling anything you find fun or soothing. For me it’s crafting and true crime documentaries. Though these things bring me joy and fulfillment, they tend to be the first things I let go by the wayside when I just can’t fit anything else in. 

The List

The speaker in this session gave us an exercise. I will tell you, I couldn’t do it and I still haven’t done it. The exercise planted a seed for me. I’ve been thinking on it for the last few weeks. I am going to plant the seed for you so you can start to cultivate your own garden of self-care. Write down a thing or things you will promise yourself to do to keep your garden going strong. Make a list to include things you are going to do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Then make yourself an emergency kit for those times you need the extra care. 

I left that session and my week at the convention feeling tired and overwhelmed by information, just as they said I would. I want to say I came back feeling refreshed. Instead, I came back with a sense of optimism and hope. I’ve noticed a general grumpiness in the air these days. I think we are all feeling the burn. On top of regular life, we’ve been stuck in pandemic mode for so long we can’t figure out how to get out. Start planting your seeds. Let’s all grow little gardens of self-care where we can recharge. It might be the first step in making for happier humans who make a happier world.