What is burnout
Burnout can be defined by two distinct categories. One is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion due to long-term involvement in an emotionally demanding situation. This can be seen in the workplace, caring for aging parents, and parenting young children. The other is a state of fatigue or frustration brought on by a career, a cause, a way of life, or a relationship that failed to produce the expected outcomes and rewards over a long period of time.
The 2 definitions bring out the features of burn out which are exhaustion and disillusionment. One specific quality of burnout that is different from fatigue or exhaustion is that it happens to people who are highly committed to their work and relationships. It is a type of person and personality type.
Although exhaustion can be remedied with rest, burnout can lead to a more chronic experience and may require a longer healing period and often professional help.
Below is a list of 10 warning signs of burnout
- Having low energy and little interest in work or personal activities.
- Poor sleep quality, constantly feeling tired, and drained with low energy.
- Self-doubt and being absent from work often.
- The feeling of emptiness, lack of motivation, and disillusionment.
- Experiencing a constant feeling of being sick. Health problems such as headaches, illness, or backaches.
- Being irritated easily by family members, friends, and team members.
- Experience thoughts that personal work is meaningless.
- Pulling away emotionally from friends, colleagues, or family members.
- Lack of interest in self-care and experience mood swings.
- You’re constantly looking for a change, whether in your career or personal life.
All of these are symptoms of burnout and negatively impact a person’s wellbeing and mental health. It is important to make positive changes and develop strategies to manage symptoms. Getting professional help and speaking with a mental health care professional is a great way to get started.
What is the difference between stress and burnout?
Stress is often felt before and during burnout and shares symptoms, but it is different from burnout because it is a short-term state. Stress is a normal state of being when we are under the requirement of meeting a deadline. Stress can sometimes help us meet goals and solve problems. However, when the project is done, the stress levels usually subside or go away entirely.
On the other hand, burnout is a long-term state of being that will happen when there are overwhelming levels of work or expectations without support. Such as someone losing a supportive boss, obtaining an unmanageable workload for a long period of time. Once burnout sets in, people can more often feel like they are not in control. Simply functioning and not being present, can in some cases, have resulted in poor performance, self-doubt, and despair.
What are the causes of burnout?
There are many causes for burnout. Here is a list of causes that people often experience.
- Experiencing an excessive workload without a sense of recognition. When people at work are responsible for more than is possible to complete and whose mental health is impacted. A lack of training or mentorship can aggravate this situation. Extended periods of stress and a lack of control over work will lead to a breaking point.
- Experiencing a dysfunctional relationship. A high level of emotional stress leads to burnout. Depending on this relationship, if it negatively impacts work-life balance, it will also cause stress, fatigue, and exhaustion. Taking care of high-needs family members or working with toxic team members can lead to burnout.
- Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy for loved ones, taking care of your body, and your mental health, people may experience burnout.
- Lack of social support while enduring challenging times. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed, especially during challenging times in your life. This can also introduce a feeling of despair and will lead to burnout.
- Lack of control and excessive responsibilities. An inability to influence decisions that affect your jobs — such as your schedule, assignments, or workload — could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
Consequences of burnout
Burnout has a critical impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Ensuring a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle is the first key to avoiding burnout. However, burnout symptoms can lead to larger problems like chronic depression and anxiety that can negatively impact a person’s career, lifestyle, and relationships. There is help available and things that can be done today.
How to avoid burnout
Work with purpose
Ensuring that focus is placed on clear job outcomes and that there are support systems in place. Such as a supportive team, HR policies that support mental health initiatives, and that information is accessible. Data shows that team members will often succeed and present their best work when the workplace offers support systems. Developing a work strategy is a great way to plan and avoid an overwhelming workload. This can be done by using prioritizing techniques, developing personal goals, and plan your day ahead of time. From time to time, analyzing your work and position helps ensure that the job held is still the best choice for the individual.
Exercise can help alleviate stress and create a sense of wellbeing. You will also experience increased energy and productivity when you exercise regularly. What is more, regular exercise will help you get a better night of sleep. Find creative ways to get more exercise by getting up earlier or exercising at lunchtime. You might also be more motivated to exercise by teaming up with colleagues or setting up an office fitness challenge sharing a sense of connection. Online classes, as well as fitness apps, are other ways to find opportunities to get active.
Boundaries are necessary to choose what is in our lives and how we use our time. Name your limits, focus on where you are comfortable. It is hard to create boundaries when we don’t know where we stand with others. To identify some of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. Make sure that once you have this information, you take steps to voice and action your boundaries. Blocking time off in your calendar to complete uninterrupted work, setting your email to autoreply when you are away from your desk, saying no to social engagements that you are not comfortable attending or need to practice self-care.
Take time to consider what you are committing to
It is easy to over-commit. We have a cultural desire to please others and help. However, this can lead to problems. When we over-commit, we end up resenting the experiences that we participate in. We also find ourselves not doing the best job and can easily experience symptoms that, over time lead to burnout.
Make sure that the activities that you are involved in have value for you.
When planning to participate in a project, event, or activity, make sure to ask yourself why you are participating. It is important to focus on participating in things that offer real personal interest, growth, opportunity, and genuinely help others. Otherwise, when people participate in actions that are not truly a great fit, one can be zapped of energy and time, all leading to exhaustion.
Don’t always be available.
It can be difficult for some people to sit out of events. Most people tend to say yes to most things. However, it is better not to over-schedule or overbook one’s schedule to leave room for the things in life that we do not often plan for, such as rest, our wellbeing, relaxing, and a hobby.
Learn to work with stress
As previously mentioned, stress is part of our lives to help us with stages of moving through a project or meeting a deadline. It is important to learn how to work and manage stress to focus and use it as a tool rather than a problem. First, it is important to first remember that stress does not last and should not take control over your work. Some therapeutic practices that can help to ease the symptoms of stress are practicing meditation, journaling, deep breathing exercises, positive thinking, and physical exercise.
Recovering from burnout
Address underlying issues
A large part of dealing with addressing health issues is to reflect on the current symptoms and review the underlying issues that may be happening, such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Reviewing lifestyle habits, work habits, sleeping habits, substance dependencies can lead to a broader picture of the individual’s situation. These all will impact the person’s overall health, and once it is viewed together can offer a more accurate plan of action. This can be done through journaling, personal self-reflection, or a psychotherapist to help develop a plan.
Recovery can be a slow journey.
Burnout recovery often requires a long-term plan that will include lifestyle changes, adjusting life skills, workplace modifications, and support from friends and family. The plan of recovery must be given the time that is required in order for it to be effective.
Improve sleeping habits
Receiving adequate rest is one of the best tools for having a healthy lifestyle. Doing a sleep audit can be a great way to get things started to determine where improvements could be made. Things like sleep habits, sleep schedule, and reviewing the actual bedroom can help develop an appropriate plan.
You may need to seek professional help.
It is important to ask for help when it is needed. In many cases, when people reach burnout, it is greatly beneficial to work with a trained life coach and cognitive behavioral psychologist to extract the problem and find helpful solutions. Working with a professional can offer long-term success in a full recovery.
If you or someone you know needs help, we work with clients every day to guide and support them by overcoming burnout issues. Contact us for more details on how we can help.