Have you ever felt exhausted and worn out, even when you haven’t expended much effort or energy? Stress, work, studies, personal commitments, or just general life can cause feelings of overwhelm, extreme exhaustion and even illness. If this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing burnout.
Burnout is an extreme stress condition, so much more than general fatigue. It can cause people to struggle with day-to-day tasks, lose motivation to get out of bed, and feelings of hopelessness. If left untreated, burnout symptoms can lead to other more serious illnesses and health problems such as depression and heart disease.
This article looks at what causes burnout, the steps to prevent it from affecting your overall well-being, and some warning signs to look out for.
What Happens When You Burnout?
One of the critical symptoms of burnout is the feeling of physical, mental or emotional exhaustion. High-stress levels from work or personal matters usually cause this.
The main signs of burnout are low energy levels, irritability, and depersonalisation or detachment from your social circles. These all can affect your general well-being and mental health.
In more extreme cases, it can manifest in physical symptoms such as flu, fever, and sleep problems.
Being burned out can also lead to unsatisfactory performance at work, procrastination and an overall lack of motivation to do anything, leading to a sharp decline in personal productivity.
The WHO classifies burnout as an occupational phenomenon, but mental health professionals also report increased stress levels affecting students, leading to massive drop-out numbers.
It appears that the causes of burnout, like expectations for high-achievement numbers, a lack of work and home-life balance, and unhealthy sleep habits, are not limited to the workplace but extend to other areas like the classroom.
How Do You Help Yourself from Getting Burned Out?
Assess Your Situation
The best way to prevent burnout is by looking closely at your current status. Take a look at your work arrangements and your personal life. Ask yourself if you’re getting a good work-life balance.
Assess your own emotions and thoughts. Check-in with yourself and assess if there are any similarities to the symptoms of burnout. Reach out to your friends and colleagues and discuss how you’re feeling to get a different perspective.
Knowing where and how you’re doing is your best weapon against burnout. Know your physical, mental, and emotional limits and work from there.
Don’t ever think you’re a burden to other people. Your friends and family are around you for a reason. They serve as an immediate contact for you to share your troubles with, and they can also offer you excellent personal advice.
Likewise, quality friends and family will appreciate it whenever you open up to them, which signifies trust and openness in the relationship.
Talking to family members or your loved ones regarding stressful situations allows you to relieve some of the tension that keeps you feeling burned out.
Another way you can relieve work-related stress and get enough sleep is to seek advice from a healthcare professional to help you process your thoughts and to address the triggers that led to burnout syndrome.
Reimagine Your Workplace
Workplace burnout can be because of a heavy workload. Being in the office daily and seeing it regularly can make your mind more stressed at the sight of your desk or cubicle. That’s no good.
If the workload is too intense, try opening up to your manager about how you’re feeling and if there is any way you can contribute in other ways that won’t hurt both you and your work.
Befriend your coworkers and create friendships with them. Healthy relationships can help you dissociate the stressors from work, reducing your tendency to experience job burnout.
Allow your mind to think that going to work means seeing your friends rather than seeing something you dread. It might be hard to mesh so many different personality traits, but trust us, a caring workplace does wonders!
If you are doing remote work, hop on a call with your work friends or team members and work together. You don’t even need to create conversation. Having their presence in a passive call can easily remove the monotony of working at home.
Chronic workplace stress isn’t cured simply by searching for a new job or a different work environment. Sometimes, it boils down to handling stress and burnout’s other effects.
Value Your Time
The easiest way for someone to experience burnout is when they stop being mindful of their time. The risk of burnout is heightened when a person spends too much time working and not allowing themselves to take a break and some personal time.
Raking in long hours every workday poses unhealthy risks to your mental, emotional, and physical health – that’s why time management is so important to live a balanced and fulfilling life.
Always aim to balance work, personal time, leisure, and family time and don’t allow your life to revolve around a single thing, as that’s one way to burn yourself out quickly. We know it’s not always easy, and it feels like you’re juggling a million things, so look where you can make changes to allow more time for the things you love.
Take a Break
Just like how you should value your time in a day, you should also appreciate rest. Avoid working during the weekends. Give yourself some time for self-care.
Whenever possible, take some time away from work. Use up your vacation leave or maybe even take a sick day and just spend time recharging yourself and giving yourself a change of pace. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
It might sound counterintuitive to work out or exercise when you feel fatigued. Physical activity fatigue is entirely different from the fatigue you get when you use up all your energy at work.
Physical exercises allow your body to produce endorphins and dopamine, putting you in a much greater mood. While on the other hand, stress increases your body’s cortisol levels which can compromise your health in the long run. To combat this, opt for lighter exercises such as walking, yoga or pilates to not put too much stress on the body.
Being active also serves as a great diversion from your daily work routine and can be a social activity if you do it with friends.
Find Your “Why”
One of the reasons why workers get burned out is because they do work for the sake of doing work. When we don’t have an end goal, we end up in a vicious cycle of working for the sake of working.
Figure out what in life brings you joy or fulfilment. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and find what you love in your current role or even outside of work. Discover all these things so that wherever you work, you find joy in your life.