How to recognize the signs and symptoms so you can recover.
If you are someone who experiences high amounts of chronic stress in your life, you may be headed for burnout. Burnout is one of those terms that gets throw around too often, but do you really know what it means or how to avoid it?
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress. It doesn’t happen overnight either. It creeps up on you over time which makes it much harder to recognize. It’s brought on by feeling overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, ineffective and like you are unable to meet the constant demands being placed on you.
Signs and Symptoms
At some point, you have likely experienced those days where you just don’t want to get out of bed. You feel overwhelmed, overloaded and unmotivated. When this starts to be a reoccurring issue, you might be burnt out.
The signs and symptoms can be subtle at first, but they gradually get worse if you don’t do anything to reduce your stress. There are physical, emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms to look out for:
Lowered immunity, you’re getting sick all the time
Headaches, muscle pain or tension
Change in sleep or appetite
Loss of motivation
Forgetful or having difficulty with focus and concentration
Increasingly cynical and negative
Feeling helpless, trapped and defeated
Feeling depressed, anxious or angry
Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
Not as productive as you once were, procrastinating and performing poorly
Feeling as if nothing is going right, “what’s the point”
Increasingly irritable with coworkers, which can also spill over in to relationships
Using food, drugs or alcohol to cope
Anyone can experience burnout. It is often linked to high achievers, individuals who are passionate about what they do, who put in long hours, take on heavy workloads and put pressure on themselves to do well. Stress from a job is often the main contributor but lifestyle and personality traits can also add to the problem.
Recovering from Burnout
Tips to help you prevent or recover from burnout:
Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can exacerbate burnout which only leaves you feeling more exhausted.
Support your mood by eating a healthy diet. How you fuel your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels.
Make exercise a priority. It may be the last thing you want to do but it has been proven to reduce stress.
Maintain a positive social support. Having good friends that you can talk to helps create a buffer against stress.
Make time for your hobbies, you do still remember what those are right? If not, make some time to explore old hobbies or start discovering new ones.
Step away from your devices. Computers and smart phones tend to eat up a lot of our time and energy. Turn on the screen time function so you can be more aware of it and aim to reduce that a little each week.
Limit contact with negativity when you can; whether that be negative friends, on social media or the news. Negativity is contagious.
Work smarter not longer.
Focus on the things you can control.
Develop a positive mindset. If you shift your mindset to view stress as a challenge vs a threat, you will be better able to handle it.
Identify your values and write them down. When your behaviors don’t match and support your values, you can end up feeling unmotivated and unhappy. When your values and behaviors align, you tend to feel more energized, focused, happy and calm.
Burnout is definitely a signal that something in your life isn’t working well for you. Learn to recognize the warning signs so you can avoid getting burnt out. If you are already there, the good news is you can recover. Your burnout didn’t appear overnight so don’t expect it to go away overnight, have patience for the process.