Constantly feel like you can never keep up & feel burnt out? Practical Steps & Tips to recognize & prevent burnout before it’s too late!
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state in which you are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. It occurs due to excessive amounts of prolonged stress. When you are constantly feeling like you cannot meet the demands upon your shoulders, you feel overwhelmed, ineffective, and lack any sense of accomplishment. And as that stress continues you lose interest and motivation and instead become cynical and detached.
Burnout WILL reduce your productivity, and eat up all of your energy leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, resentful, and hopeless. Eventually, you get to a point where you feel like you have nothing left to give and the negative effects of burnout will impact every area of your life. When suffering from burnout, your home, work, and social life will all feel the impact.
Wondering if you’ve experienced burnout?
Ask yourself if you’ve ever felt like you’ve lost the meaning in your work or life? If so, the answer is yes.
Burnout doesn’t discriminate either. Anyone at any time can fall victim to burnout, with individuals ages 25-44 being in the highest risk category. The risk of burnout is at an all-time high because of the world we live in. We pride ourselves on being busy, as overworked workaholics we wear busy like a badge of honor.
Careful with that badge though, it’s easy to start feeling like it’s never enough, never feel satisfied with anything you do and work yourself to the bone to get more and more done every day giving burnout the opportunity to sneak up on you.
Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a freelancer, an employee, or anything in between, keep a close eye on how you’re feeling to recognize these signs in yourself early.
Related Posts: Let the overwhelm go & get your life on track
Signs of burnout
Now you’re probably wondering, what does burnout look like? How do you really recognize it in yourself?
Some of the most common signs of burnout include —
Little to no motivation or excessive drive or ambition: Burnout plays both ends of the spectrum here. Some people suffer from next to nothing for motivation while others push themselves excessively.
Insomnia: Trouble sleeping? You bet that’s on the list!
Emotional overwhelm: Feeling overly emotional? Do you find yourself upset or in tears over things that would normally be a minor bother to you?
Exaggerated anxiety: Anxiety is heightened when you’re suffering from burnout. You may be feeling on edge, short-tempered, and easily upset.
Mental or physical exhaustion: If you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning, are barely making it through the day, or find that you need to have a nap just to make it through, take a hard look at your situation to determine if you could be burnt out.
Easily triggered: Finding yourself with an extra short fuse? Maybe you’re noticing that you get upset easily or are more upset than you normally would be in certain situations, another sign of burnout.
Personal neglect: People who are burnt out tend to neglect their personal needs and care. If you start skipping out on doing your hair, washing your face or even showering and changing your clothing, reach out for help before it gets away on you!
Displacing conflict or anger: If you’re frustrated or angry about a situation in your life but notice yourself taking it out on others, it’s quite possible you’re burnt out.
No time for hobbies or personal interests: When you begin neglecting your hobbies or personal interests in lieu of other things, it’s a sign that you need to realign your priorities.
You deny how you’re feeling: Your friends or loved ones may notice a change in you and when they question you about it, you deny it even if you know deep down that they are right.
You withdraw from your loved ones: Feeling like you haven’t seen your loved ones much lately? There’s a good chance you’re burnt out and avoiding them or you are buried in work and haven’t got time for them.
Your behaviors have changed: Keep a close eye on how you’re acting these days to determine if you’re burnout.
You depersonalize situations: When you find yourself in a stressful situation you pull back and keep the emotions at arm’s length.
You feel depressed or experience inner emptiness: Depression and inner emptiness can creep up on you when you’re suffering from burnout.
What causes burn out?
Whether you’ve experienced burnout or not, you may be sitting there wondering how does this happen? How does life get out of control on us? Turns out there are 6 imbalances that can cause people to burn out.
Workload. When your workload is too much to handle it contributes to burnout. You have to dos’ continuously piled on yourself when you already have too many unrealistic deadlines to meet. While the workload is a no brainer, and what most people associate burnout with, there’s a lot more to it —
1. Values conflict. A values conflict happens when your own core values are in conflict with the values of your business/company or those you’re surrounded with.
2. Lack of control. Lack of control is simply when you feel like you have no control over your situation, like your opinion doesn’t matter, and like your efforts go unnoticed.
3. Insufficient rewards. Ever feel like you do a lot of work and like you are not fairly compensated for it? Do you feel unappreciated and taken for granted? Those feelings are related to insufficient rewards.
4. Work-life imbalance. When your work or personal duties begin to take over your life, leaving you little to no personal time you experience a work-life imbalance.
5. Unfairness. When you’re treated unfairly and when you’ve voiced your concerns but they are ignored, those feelings contribute to burnout.
6. Community breakdown. You feel unsafe and worried about your work or home environment. You worry that you have no one to turn to about the stress in your life.
When reading these 6 imbalances it’s interesting to think of different times when you may have experienced these things. People often chalk many of these points up to regular stress when they truly are part of a deeper problem.
The 5 Stages of Burnout
Burnout goes much deeper than most of us think. There are multiple stages to burnout, 5 to be exact. In order to fully understand burnout, and protect yourself from experiencing it, you need to have a full understanding of each of the stages and how to recognize them.
Check out this great information This Is Calmer has put together about the 5 stages.
Stage 1: Honeymoon Phase
When we start at a new job, open a business, or take on new responsibilities we often feel a natural high or the feeling of complete satisfaction. Our commitment and energy levels are at an all-time high and our creativity is fueled. In this stage of burnout, you may begin to experience normal levels of expected job stress.
Ideally, if you can recognize this phase you can create excellent coping strategies to continue living in the honeymoon phase indefinitely.
Common symptoms of the honeymoon phase include:
- High levels of commitment
- Compulsion toward proving yourself
- Increased creativity
- Excellent productivity
- High job satisfaction
- Acceptance of additional responsibilities
- Increased energy levels
- unwavering optimism
Stage 2: Onset of Stress
The second stage of burnout happens when you shift from every day being a good day, to some days becoming more difficult than others. You may also find your optimistic attitude changing to pessimistic, and your stress symptoms may begin having physical, mental, or emotional side effects.
Common symptoms of the onset of the stress phase include:
- Avoiding making decisions
- Change in appetite or diet
- Neglect of personal needs
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty focusing
- Lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep.
Stage 3: Chronic Stress
Stage 3 is chronic stress. When you reach stage 3 you will notice that you’re experiencing stress on a frequent basis and that you may experience some of the same symptoms as stage 2, however, they will be more intense.
Common symptoms of the chronic stress phase include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Chronic exhaustion
- Denial of problems at work and/or home
- Feeling pressured
- Lack of hobbies
- Missed deadlines
- Physical illness
Stage 4: Burnout
Stage 4 is burnout is the stage where your symptoms become critical. In this stage, continuing on with your normal may simply not be possible and it’s imperative that you reach out for help.
Common symptoms of the burnout phase include:
- Behavioral changes
- Chronic headaches
- Neglect of personal needs
- Feeling of emptiness
- Pessimistic attitude
- Social isolation
Stage 5: Habitual Burnout
Stage 5 is the final stage and if you reach this level it means that the symptoms of burnout are so embedded in your life that you will experience significant physical or emotional issues. There is no occasional stress or burnout, it’s continuous.
Common symptoms of the habitual burnout phase include:
- Chronic mental and physical fatigue
- Chronic sadness
With a large number of negative symptoms in each of the 5 stages of burnout, the consequences of living in a state of burnout just aren’t worth it. When living in this state, you may also be at increased risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and increased vulnerability to illness, all of which are incredibly serious and can even be life-threatening if left untreated and no job or business is worth risking your health or life.
So if you’re currently experiencing or have experienced burnout in the past, how can you be sure to avoid it again in the future, right? After reviewing the negative impacts of burnout in both the short and long term, I’m sure you can see the benefit in avoiding it or recognizing it right away in the future.
How to cope with and overcome burnout?
There is no easy peasy 3 step process to get over burnout overnight. It can take weeks, months, or even years to get to a place of healing. By taking an active role in listening to your body and recognizing the signs of burnout, you can start to take control of the situation and your own well being.
It takes time to recover from burnout and gain the necessary skills that will keep you from becoming burnt out in the future. You need to dedicate time for yourself to learn these skills to keep your mental, emotional, and physical health in excellent shape.
When you notice symptoms of burnout showing up in yourself these 7 things/tips can help you get back on track —
1. Take a break to reset. Take advantage of any holiday time you have or if you’re self-employed move your schedule around and take that much needed day away from your computer. When you continue to pile stress on top of stress, something is bound to break so stop that cycle before it gets to you.
2. Rest and recharge. I know this sounds impossible for many since quite a lot of people tend to forego sleep or have trouble sleeping when burnt out but you need to be sure you are resting when you can, even if that means an afternoon nap, and/or incorporating self-care into your daily/weekly routines! A tired mind and body will contribute to burnout, not help.
3. Slow down to speed up. It seems counteractive to slow down to gain some control back over your life, but it truly is crucial. Slow down by creating a realistic to-do list for yourself instead of your usual. By slowing down to a realistic list you can boost your confidence and gain back control over your situation.
4. Set boundaries. We are all guilty of stretching or completely ignoring our own boundaries from time to time. It’s important that you learn to set boundaries and stick to them to keep yourself healthy and well. If a task asked of you has an impossible expectation or deadline, say so, and do it without guilt.
5. Focus on the basic necessities. There is power in reminding yourself that it’s okay to just get through the day and survive. No one says you need to operate at 100% all the time. When you’re burnt out even small tasks can seem impossible, so focus on what you can do. Shower, get dressed, feed yourself, and make sure your other necessities are taken care of, the rest can wait.
6. Reevaluate your priorities. When you begin to feel burnt out, take a step back. Look at what you have on your plate and reevaluate your priorities. If you have items that can hit the back burner allow them to and focus only on what you NEED to do.
7. Ask for help. Ask for what you need from your employer or employees or hire help where you need it most. Reach out to others for support too. By talking with your family, friends, or a professional it can be helpful to hear that many others have been where you are. Take advantage of any tips they can share too.
Burnout is a serious thing that has a significant physical, mental, and emotional impact on your life if not properly handled, even if you don’t realize the repercussions of it right now, it will catch up with you sooner or later.
The last thing you want is to look back on your life years down the line and feel sad, guilty, and upset about all the lost time and the damage burnout caused you and your loved ones!
“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed.”