How to recognize and deal with burnout right away

Tired woman in bed

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens to people when they feel overwhelmed and no longer able to meet constant demands placed on them. As the stress continues, they begin to lose the interest or motivation to function effectively in their daily lives.

Burnout can reduce productivity and energy, leading to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and resentment. People often describe it as feeling like they have nothing more to give.

Burnout can make you feel like:

↬every day is a bad day

↬caring about your work or home life is a total waste of energy

↬you’re exhausted all the time

↬the majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming

↬nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated

The negative effects of burnout can cast a shadow over every aspect of your life—including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body and immune system that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many health-related consequences, it’s important to recognize and deal with burnout right away.

Causes of Burnout

Quite often, burnout stems from your stress caused by your job. But anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout, as it is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities. Other factors contribute to burnout, including your lifestyle and certain personality traits. Examples include:

Work-related Causes of Burnout

➤Feeling like you have little or no control over your work

➤Lack of recognition or rewards for good work

➤Unclear or overly demanding job expectations

➤Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging

➤Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment

Lifestyle Causes of Burnout

➤Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing

➤Being expected to be too many things to too many people

➤Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others

➤Not getting enough sleep

➤Lack of close, supportive relationships

➤Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough

➤Pessimistic view of yourself and the world

➤The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others

➤High-achieving, Type A personality

Physical & Emotional Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout is different to simply feeling tired and run down. The physical and mental symptoms can quickly escalate, leaving you feeling helpless to cope with everyday situations. People experiencing burnout may recognize the following signs and symptoms:

➤Feeling tired and drained most of the time

➤Lowered immunity

➤Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches

➤Change in appetite or sleep habits

➤Sense of failure and self-doubt

➤Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated

➤Detachment, feeling alone in the world

➤Loss of motivation

➤An increasingly cynical and negative outlook

➤Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

➤Withdrawing from responsibilities

➤Isolating yourself from others

➤Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done

➤Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope

➤Taking out your frustrations on others

➤Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

How to Prevent Burnout

Start the day with a relaxed attitude – try not to wake up in a rush. Spend at least fifteen minutes meditating, doing gentle stretches, listening to the radio or reading something that inspires you.

Live well – when you eat a healthy diet, engage in regular physical activity, and get the required amount of rest, you’ll have the energy and resilience to deal more effectively with life’s demands.

Don’t take on too much – learning how to say “no” when you know deep down that you don’t have the time or energy to do something will allow you to focus on the things you really want to do.

Take a break from technology – make time every day to completely disconnect from your laptop, your phone, and your email.

Take up a hobby – try something new and remember to choose activities that have nothing to do with work.

Learn how to better manage stress – recognize the difference between stress and burnout, and find ways to combat the testing times in your life. There are plenty of free self-help resources online. Or you could talk to your GP if you are considering counseling and CBT.

Preventing burnout comes from taking care of your physical and mental health, and is all about striking a good work-life balance.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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