Chronic stress can contribute to burnout. Unfortunately, experts are saying that burnout is on the rise. Here’s how to recognize it – and what you can do to recover.
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that is caused by chronic stress.
Over 75% of employed adults have reported experiencing burnout.
Burnout can affect all areas of your life, including home, work, your social life, and even your physical and mental health.
Symptoms can be physical, emotional, and behavioral.
The “3 R’s” – Recognize, Reverse, and Resilience – can help you prevent and recover from burnout.
It’s likely you’ve heard someone say they’re dealing with “burnout” to describe being exhausted and overwhelmed. What exactly is this? And, how can you recognize it?
Burnout is caused by chronic stress and is characterized by emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. If you’re experiencing burnout, you may feel overwhelmed, drained emotionally, and unable to meet the constant demands of your day-to-day life. This increased and prolonged stress may decrease your interest and motivation to engage in various activities – including ones that previously excited you.
Operating from a state of burnout can zap your energy and decrease your productivity, which in turn leads to more burnout as the tasks pile up. It can leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and even resentful of your obligations. Unfortunately, the effects of burnout are pervasive and insidious, and what starts out as burnout in one area of your life can begin to affect any and all areas, including your work, home, and social life.
It can even have health consequences – chronic stress changes your physiology and impacts your nervous system, leaving you vulnerable to mental health challenges and sicknesses like colds and flus. Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly common – over 75% of employed adults have experienced it, and that number is on the rise.
So, what are the signs and what can you do about it? We explain.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
Everyone has bad days or times they feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. If you feel like this most of the time, though, you may be experiencing burnout. Burnout doesn't happen overnight; it’s a gradual process, and if you learn to recognize the red flags, you may be able to prevent it by reducing your stress.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of burnout:
Feeling exhausted most of the time
Sleep and rest don’t seem to restore you
Changes in appetite or sleeping habits
Decreased immunity; frequent colds or infections
Frequent headaches or muscle pain
Feeling doubtful or like a failure
Loss of motivation
Becoming negative, cynical, or pessimistic
Lacking a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment
Feeling isolated, detached, or alone
Feelings of helplessness or defeat
Feeling like a prisoner in your own life
Relying on food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
Short-tempered and lashing out at others
Skipping work, leaving early, or coming late
Procrastinating or avoiding tasks
Backing out of responsibilities or engagements
Isolating yourself from family, friends, and co-workers
Burnout has reached the point where it’s a public health problem and most of us will likely experience it at some time or another. Is there any way to deal with it? Fortunately, yes.
How to deal with burnout
Since almost everyone will experience burnout at some time in their lives, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. Early intervention is key – if you’re already experiencing burnout, trying to “push through” will only exacerbate things further. It’s important that in dealing with it, you learn how to course-correct so that you can feel your best again. The “3 R’s” can help you do this:
Recognize: Know the warning signs of burnout and be on the lookout for any signs of impending stress.
Reverse: Stop burnout in its tracks by getting support and managing your stress.
Resilience: Improve your ability to bounce back from stressful situations by building your resilience to stress; this involves caring for both your physical and mental health.
Keep reading for more tips on how to recover from burnout and improve your sense of well-being.
Turn to your support network
Although you may feel the urge to isolate because you’re so drained, surrounding yourself with support is exactly what you need right now. Being around your trusted friends and family can foster a safe space for you and help you to recharge your batteries. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and letting them know what you’re struggling with can be beneficial – they may be willing to support you by picking up some tasks, allowing you more time to recover and rest.
Rethink things at work
Burnout has been extensively studied in the workplace, as one of the main drivers of it can be workplace conditions. You likely spend a lot of time at work, and spending the majority of your day at a job or in working conditions you hate is a fast-track to burnout.
While quitting your job and finding a new one is a quick remedy, it’s decidedly not practical for most people to up and leave their jobs. Take all of your allotted time off – don’t leave any of your paid time off on the table. Try to remember what drew you to this employment in the first place, other than the obvious benefit of a paycheck. Connect with the people whose company you enjoy at work, and try to find a renewed sense of purpose in your tasks. Although this is ultimately a bandage, it can help you feel more in control of a situation you desperately want to change.
When you’re dealing with burnout, self-care is one of the first things that you might start letting go of. View your self-care time as non-negotiable and prioritize it. That means sleep is more important than work – don’t skip out on rest, meals, or pleasurable activities to keep working. Create boundaries for yourself, such as no working after you’re home, no working on weekends, or setting aside specific times for handling work communication that doesn’t cut into family and personal time. If you work from home, this can be more difficult – creating a routine that prioritizes your needs as a human, such as nourishing meals, family time, and time to relax, is a must.
Get support from an effective therapist in Coral Gables
Talking about your stress with someone may be helpful if you’re experiencing burnout. Having the support from the right professionals can take away a draining mental and physical burden. Individual therapy can be beneficial to increase your coping skills, help you build resiliency, and give you a safe space to heal.
The team at Love Discovery is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you’re ready to get started in therapy to help facilitate healing within yourself and your interpersonal relationships, make an appointment with any of our therapists today. Feeling hesitant about how we can help? Call 786.571.4636 for a free 20-minute consultation.
We are here to help you improve your mental health and support you continually.