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The Fried Quiz: Is It You or Your Life That's the Problem?
Stress is something Joan Borysenko knows something about. She's a Harvard-trained biologist and author of the new book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. For 10 nonstop years, she juggled completing her clinical research, running a working farm (yes, that meant feeding chickens), raising two kids, writing a book and running 25 miles a week. In her two free minutes each evening, she secretly smoked cigarettes behind a tree in her front yard. Then came the back pain. After that, a scary feeling that she was sleepwalking through her life, immune even to her kids' excitement about riding their new pony through the woods.
She, the stress expert, was at the point of nonfunction.
Borysenko was a perfect example of how trying to do more than you can do for too long can result in a host of problems: emotional exhaustion (say, feeling numb inside when you know you'd normally feel happy or sad), recurring physical effects (back pain, constant colds, headaches) and a sense of spiritual emptiness that leaves you isolated from others.
This state can look a lot like depression. In fact, it might be easier to think of yourself as depressed; you can seek treatment from a doctor for that. Recent research, however, has found that although both result in a loss of motivation and pleasure, if you're burnt out, you can usually reclaim your everyday happiness—from taking great delight in a piece of crispy morning bacon to enjoying your hours at work or as a parent—once you make some fundamental changes. So the question is, How fried are you and what do you need to do about it? Go answer these questions to find out.