How to Recognize Burnout and What to Do About It
Are you feeling overwhelmed, over-worked, and stressed out? If so, you might be suffering from burnout. Burnout means that you are in a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion. Burnout is something that is often not recognized until you’re already experiencing it, and can could obstruct your health, happiness and relationships.
You can experience burnout from various different factors over time. Over-scheduling, long work hours, and heavy workloads trigger many cases of burnout. In particular, people who are considered “over-achievers” place unrealistic pressures on themselves throughout various areas of their lives to excel, and overtime become overwhelmed by their everyday tasks. As we creep toward a high level of burnout, it is important to recognize the warning signs our bodies provide along the way. The following is an overview to better understand what burnout is, what causes burnout and how you can avoid reaching this rate of chronic stress.
Signs of Burnout
Burnout can present itself in many forms. Mainly it can fit into a few categories: physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of inefficiency, devaluing oneself, or lack of ambition, irritation or objectivity. Although the symptoms of burnout may start small, if you do not assess the situation early, it can quickly snowball into larger issues in the workplace, at home, and everywhere in-between. You may be experiencing burnout if the following resonates with you:
- Lack of energy: You feel physically and mentally tired. You find yourself constantly exhausted to the point that the simplest task seems like the most difficult chore.
- Insomnia: You struggle with turning your mind off at night and are incapable of allowing your body and mind to rest.
- Inability to concentrate: You lack focus. You have a hard time paying attention to detail and your work starts to reflect this.
- Anxiety and depression: You are in a constant state of worry to the point that it affects your productivity. You find yourself feeling guilty that you are not meeting the expectations around you, causing you to feel sad and hopeless.
- Disconnection: You feel a sense of detachment from others and your environment. You find yourself not connecting with your surroundings. This causes you to pull away from your responsibilities and isolating yourself.
- Irritability and anger: Once experiencing the above symptoms of burnout, lack of energy, insomnia, anxiety, depression and disconnection, it is only a matter of time that you will experience irritability with coworkers, clients, and within your personal relationships. This stage of stress buildup may lead to anger-driven outbursts and arguments.
- Unhappiness: At the core of burnout is your happiness. If you are constantly putting work, needs of others and other tasks ahead of yourself, you will find yourself lost and unhappy. You may be lacking passion in your profession or you might feel devalued in some way; whatever is taking a toll on you, there are ways to help cope with those feelings.
How to Avoid Burnout
Ordinarily we don’t notice early signs of burnout. Usually it takes us to hit an extreme case before realizing that we are overworked, impassionate or unhappy with our current state. It is important to routinely tune into how you are feeling. At first sign of these areas described above, you should take a step back and ask yourself: what is at the core of my burnout?
As a way to avoid burnout you should strive to do the following:
- Take time for yourself by journaling, relaxing and disconnecting from work and other distractions to recharge your batteries.
- Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise daily, and strive to maintain a healthy sleeping schedule.
- Think about your life as a trail. Are your professional and personal relationships and goals on the right path? Are you happy with the current projects you are working on? Determine your long-term goals and decide whether or not you are working toward accomplishing them in the short-term. If you are not, you must take time to self-reflect on what your goals are and what you need to change in order to achieve them.
It is never too late to change careers, take better care of yourself, or to make a change in your daily routine. If you are experiencing any burnout symptoms, its time to take a step back and see what steps you need to take to change that feeling. Tap into your support systems for advice, to lessen your workload, delegate and collaborate with others at work, partake in an exercise class to release stress; do whatever you can to make positive changes in your life to achieve the level of success and happiness you seek and deserve.