We all have days when we don’t want to do anything, and there’s no guilt required if you need a day in bed or in front of the television. We live in a world that’s in a rush, and no harm can come from slowing it down a little from time-to-time to avoid the signs of burnout.
It’s easier said than done though, isn’t it? The idea of recognising when we’ve had too much and doing something about it is great, but much harder to put into practice, and that’s where burnout comes from. Quite the buzzword these days, burnout is defined as:
A state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
So how do you differentiate between a day of low motivation, and sheer burnout? That’s what I’m here to help you do. Self-awareness is vital, and spotting the signs of genuine burnout is vital to your mental health, and something often missed in a society that’s more ambitious than any before it.
The Main Symptoms of Burnout
It’s worth knowing that, as with every illness, both mental or physical, every person can experience burnout differently. Some may have a few of the symptoms whereas another may have them all. If you come to the end of this article and have found yourself nodding your head as you read, it’s likely you are suffering with, or have suffered with burnout.
Ever felt so tired that no amount of sleep or no number of early nights is enough to shake it? Yeah, me too. This exhaustion can also manifest itself emotionally, with the feeling that you can’t cope, or handle what’s going on around you. Exhaustion is the most common symptom of burnout and also one of the hardest to recognise, so it’s important to keep an eye on this.
You may find yourself finding less pleasure in your day-to-day activities. The job you loved now makes you miserable, the hobbies you had during your spare time start to dwindle. The things you’re super passionate about, including people, can suddenly seem much less significant – in the mental health world, this is known as detachment.
Drop in Performance
I mean this in every aspect, worsening performance at work, in the bedroom, and in every relationship you have. Linked to detachment, this is the knock-on effect. Your memory will be worse, your concentration levels will be low and this can ultimately lead to a poor performance in all areas of life.
Headaches and Other Physical Signs
The mind is an amazing thing. Although burnout is a mental disorder, it can very much have a physical impact. Recurring headaches, chest tightness, even stomach problems, have all been known to be linked to burnout. Other less common symptoms include palpitations and nausea, which are very similar to the signs of anxiety.
We live in a world where being a workaholic is encouraged and praised, and this can be pretty toxic. The idea of stepping back and taking a breather for a little while is probably petrifying to a young professional experiencing burnout, but what’s the alternative? Missing the symptoms and living with burnout can result in depression, or a fully fledged mental breakdown. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, and I’m talking worst case scenario, but it’s important to know the facts.
Having suffered from the condition myself, I’ve noted down some of the techniques I used to recover, and combined it with official health advice to create the below list. Following these steps will help you on your way to feeling much better:
- Think long and hard about the elements of your life that may be causing your burnout. Your job, relationships, lifestyle, etc
- Plan some downtime, whether this be a bit of time off work, or just a few hours each day to clear your mind
- Do more of the things you love, listen to music, paint, etc, whatever your thing is
- Ensure you have a proper sleeping routine, including putting your phone down before bed, perhaps switch it with a book
- On the topic of books, consider some motivational or positive self-help books
- Seek help from a professional if your symptoms begin to worsen
As with overcoming anything, the first step is recognising that you need to, as cliche as it may sound. In reading this blog and considering following some of these actions, you’re already very much on your way.