“Burnout” is an unofficial term used to describe a state of physical or mental exhaustion brought on by chronic exposure to stress. Feelings of burnout can leave us feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unmotivated. It is completely normal to experience burnout from time to time. But, prolonged periods of burnout can be quite detrimental to both our physical and psychological health. If left untreated, burnout can lead to severe feelings of dissatisfaction, depersonalization, isolation, and depression.
It is important to understand the signs of burnout so we can acknowledge its effects on us and understand our limitations. Here are a few ways that you can prevent burnout:
- Understand the warning signs; catch it early
Burnout generally doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it occurs gradually when stressors in your life are left unresolved and they begin to pile up (a snowballing effect). The signs of burnout will be gradual at first: general irritability, tiredness and lack of motivation. These symptoms then worsen over time as stress continues to pile on. Some more severe symptoms can include: cynicism, poor treatment of yourself and others, ignorance of important responsibilities, body aches, and nausea. In the worse cases, severe burnout that is left untreated or acknowledged can lead to depression, substance abuse, weight change, mood swings, and even thoughts of suicide. But, it does not have to reach this point. Listen to yourself and trust your intuition. Catch these warning signs early and work to regain control over your life. If you feel that you are experiencing these symptoms, it is recommended that you reach out to trusted loved ones or consult with a specialist right away.
- Manage your workload
Stress is the number one factor that leads to burnout. Manage your stress levels up front to prevent serious stressors from building up over time. Be realistic with your time management; don’t leave everything to the last minute because you never know when extenuating circumstances may arrive. Simple tasks and assignments can become immensely challenging when they are all piled on you at once. Also, don’t take on more than you can reasonably handle in a given timeframe. Be honest with people, stand up for yourself, and handle your responsibilities as early as possible.
- Establish control over your life
Burnout is most often coupled with feelings of dissatisfaction and powerlessness. If you feel that you are being sidelined in your own life, then it is likely time for you to set boundaries that protect your autonomy. Exercise your self-worth by standing up for yourself; make your voice be heard. You can also establish control over your life by changing your environment. Deep clean your living space like you never have before, find the time to visit new areas, take a different route to work, try new restaurants, etc.
- Embrace community
Don’t distance yourself from your family, friends, or other loved ones. Instead, lean on the trustworthy people in your life. Strengthen old bonds by reaching out to people who you haven’t spoken to in awhile and invest energy in those that you may have been taking for granted.
If you feel that you have exhausted your resources and you still find yourself struggling with burnout, then you should consider talking to a licensed professional. If you would like to know more about burnout, or if you would like to speak with a professional, contact Chenal Family Therapy to learn more about the support that we offer. Don’t worry; you are not alone in this.