How to Combat Fatigue, Burnout, and CBB Syndrome

So what’s CBB Syndrome? I’m glad you asked. It stands for “Can’t Be Bothered”.

I have a sister in Scotland who helps accountancy firms manage and create actually interesting websites and delve into the murky realm of social media. (The company name is the Profitable Firm, which is reason enough to check out the site.) She blogs much more and much better than I do, and she’s an all-around rock star person who also battles fatigue.

Our world continually screams at us – “Do this. Do that. You’re not doing enough, being enough, if you just tried harder you could do better. You’re the fulcrum point of your entire existence and it’s all up to you!”


Do More

Aren’t you tired, just looking at those phrases?

Tip One: Stop Listening.

  • We’re constantly told that we need to listen rather than talk. Yes, John Maxwell, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening to wrong or unhelpful things just drowns us in battles we don’t need to fight. Pick the battles that are important to fight, and learn to ignore the noise boxes around you.

Ignore Noise

Tip Two: Drop the Hard Work + Limitlessness Fantasy

  • I read this tweet today: “If someone’s working harder than you, you’re not working hard enough.” There’s always somebody smarter, faster, or better-looking than you are who gets better results (again, this is swiped from John Maxwell). There’s really no substitute for hard work, but fantasy-land thinking comes in when you think that there are no limits to the places you can go, things you can do, etc. Wisdom from Forbes’ writer Lisa Gerry on staying late and working weekends at her dream opportunity job: “Looking back, it’s obvious that my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. But back then, I wore my workaholism like a badge of honor.”

Fantasy:  Limitless Fantasy

Reality: Limitless Reality

  • Sadly, all the sparkles and golden rainbows in the world aren’t going to counteract the fact that people are limited by their life spans and health issues. Humans can overcome a lot (feel free to sing the Seeger song) – the Romans and British Victorians thought they could banish poverty and health afflictions too – but Jesus said that some perils of human life will remain until the end of the world. I’m inclined to believe the Man who was able to heal blind men and make the lame to walk.

Tip Three: Confront Stupidity

  • A secondary error in the therapeutic idea, that always listening will result in always understanding and better human communication, is that no one is ever supposed to call out a bad idea, a bad plan, or bad character. The way to do this with grace in your heart is first to examine yourself for stupidity and error, and then point it out when you see it around you, so you can save others from walking down life’s dark alleyways without warning them that there’s a big hole or roadblock ahead of them. (Again, a paraphrase from Jesus.) Do that consistently, and you’ll be able to say with great conviction, “I’m not telling you anything that I wouldn’t tell myself.” Otherwise, you’re just being a finger-pointer who enjoys telling others off ‘for their own good’, which does more self-righteous harm than good. (Do I tell this to myself? Of course. Regularly.) Be ready to accept hearing those words from others right back at you. This is a two-way street.Arm Wrestle
  • Sometimes this means a “little relaxed conversation”, per a Success Consciousness blog


or maybe it means actually saying what you’re thinking in a board room when you know you’re not the only one thinking it: “That idea will land us in a worse financial hole and big legal headaches. Who came up with it?” If you can, take the person with the gloriously inappropriate idea and talk to them by themselves. If the group is getting swayed by a silver-tongued devil, verbally klonk the devil on the head and let a fight break out. They’ll think twice before proposing a stupid idea again, and that’s a good thing.

Tip Four: Let Opportunities Pass You By

  • If an opportunity is a really good fit for you, it will probably come back around a second time. You cannot spend all of your life chasing after this or that thing that Might Do Good and Might Be Better than whatever you’re working on right now. Unless there’s an aspect of illegal or nefarious activity surrounding your current work, stick with it unless and until you can grab ahold of something better without damaging your health or finances. (Have I ignored this sane advice from others wiser than me? You bet I have. Live and learn.)

Tip Five: Go Outside

  • Leave the mobile and all of the multi-tasking tools at home. Really. Just go walk outdoors. If you live in a really ugly area, drive to a pretty area – and just walk. Don’t turn it into a productivity session, at all. If you like to run, strap on your shoes and Lycra shirt, and go. Let your brain free from the “I have to be doing something GREAT every second” mantra. That kills creativity, and the unending Superman or Superwoman stress really is a killer. Leave the world behind. It will be just as screwy as it was before you left the house or office, when you come back.


  • Maybe you’ll get a world-changing idea in the outdoors, or contract a mad desire to become a farmer and live a simple life (I’m bit by the Sustainable Farming Bug! I admit it!). The point is, when we’re surrounded by machines all day, we tend to mirror our association. Get in touch with your human side by walking in a natural environment that both admits your superior brainpower, and also tells you how small and helpless you are. It’s a great perspective-generator.

Tip Six: Ask For Help

  • If you’re the praying kind, there’s no time like the present. If you’re not, at least ask for human help. I know, we’re all supposed to be able to handle everything ourselves, use the old bootstraps, and just get on with it. I love those movies too, where the hero is some mid-level executive manager who pushes around papers with his stapler for a living, and somehow turns into a Navy Seal after a week of chasing around professional thugs and hit men.
  • It’s an attractive idea, but the fact is that even the actors have to train for years in karate and judo and unpronounceable cool skills, to be able to stage those 30-second fight scenes – or their stunt men are similarly skilled. Ask friends or neighbors or those people who are constantly asking you for help, and get rid of the unhealthy idea that you’re all alone and what’s the use of anything.

Tip Seven: Do Nothing For a While

  • This may be the hardest part. When you have felt for months that nothing would be better than to throw the covers over your head and moan, that’s probably what you need to do. If the mouth filter is coming off, and you find yourself yelling at spouse and children because they’ve done that ONE thing that you just hate – the pillow is your friend. Sure, there are 5,000 things you could do to ‘get yourself better’, but there’s no substitute for doing nothing. Even land gets overused and burnt out sometimes, and refuses to produce a crop. If your work is suffering, and your relationships are suffering, trying to get up 30 minutes early to mark things off of your to-do list will just deepen the problem.
  • Take off a few days, or a few weeks, if you can afford it. If not, cancel your evening plans for 3 to 6 weeks and just sit around the house. (More than that might get you into a bad pattern, so it’s a good idea to set a time limit.) Turn off Facebook, turn off Twitter, and don’t check personal email. Your real friends will understand you bowing out of the world for a while. Needy people will start to look elsewhere.
  • The fact is that three days is just enough time for your system to actually slow down, so if you only take off 3 days, it’s a teaser. Time really can heal some pretty significant wounds, and if you don’t take the time now to do it, you might end up in the hospital or a long, dark, seemingly endless struggle to ‘keep everything together’. Just accept the fact that you can’t keep it all together. That might be a really freeing idea.

Final Note for Extroverts:

I realize that most of these tips apply to introverts. If you’re an extrovert and you’ve read to the end of this post and you’re irritated (“most of this doesn’t apply to me!”), I do apologize. Please feel free to suggest any tips that you’ve found helpful, or blogposts.



Lacking that, I’d say to ignore any less-than-vital meetings or networking opportunities, and recharge with people you actually want to be around. Having to be ‘on’ for unimportant people will leach your brain and heart of the ability to have those flashes of brilliance for the important tasks or people. Take out some anger in a new kickboxing class, or organize that one area of the house that always irritates you, or go have a beer with a really peace-loving friend. They will let you vent, or just laugh with you about really silly things. If you don’t feel like talking, go to a movie or host a movie-watching night – one that you already know and love. That may distract your brain enough not to think for a while.

2 thoughts on “How to Combat Fatigue, Burnout, and CBB Syndrome

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