Featured Image: @livingwithlysss
Article By: Kasey Edgerton
Burnout is what happens when constant stress causes you to become physically and mentally exhausted. As technology continues to blur the line between work and home, public and private, the prevalence of burnout is only increasing. It’s one thing to experience fluctuating everyday stresses, but another thing entirely to feel like you’re on the brink of a dangerous burnout.
Even the best jobs can lead to burnout. The harder you work and the more motivated you are to succeed, the easier it is to get in over your head. Burnout often results from a misalignment of input and output—in other words, when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it. This might happen because a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you just aren’t properly taking care of yourself. Working 24/7 might seem like some sort of badge of honor, but it is not sustainable!
Signs you’re burnt out and need to practice more self-care can sneak up on even the most dedicated of employees, simply because you are not a robot. Before you can treat and even prevent burnout, you need to recognize the warning signs so that you’ll know when it’s time to take action. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Everything About Your Job Starts to Annoy You
Everything is sunshine and rainbows when you’re excited about work and bad days are few and far between. Your optimism shines through, and you feel ready to take on the world. It’s a different storyline when you’re near a burnout. If you’re headed toward burnout, you might lose interest in meetings, teamwork, and everything in between. You may perceive your contributions aren’t appreciated and feel trapped at your current job.
If any of this sounds familiar, burnout is knocking on your door. Your negative attitude goes beyond an isolated bad day. It carries from week to week or month to month without letup.
2. Your Passion Fades
Everybody struggles with passion from time to time, but burnout moves you into a place of sustained motivation loss. Similarly to clinical depression, you just don’t seem to care about things that used to bring you such joy. Early on, you may experience mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes in your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life.
3. You Develop Unexplained Physical Symptoms
Do you have chronic headaches, muscle aches, or gastrointestinal distress that’s accompanied by stress? This is your body’s way of telling you it’s time to slow your roll. Much like other chronic stress conditions, burnout leads to turmoil within the regulation of your body’s neuroendocrine system and even dysregulation in brain function; if left unchecked, this can lead to some very serious repercussions.
4. You Get Out of Bed Feeling a Sense Of Dread
While burnout is often associated with being overworked, a lot of other factors are involved. For example, if you’re spending your life doing things you don’t want to do, and you greet each day with an overwhelming feeling of dread, you could be headed for burnout. According to the Mayo Clinic, things, like feeling a lack of control, work-life imbalance, lack of social support, and doing things that don’t align with your values, are major contributors to burnout.
5. You’re Starting to Make Careless Mistakes
At first, it appears that you’re having a productive day. Then out of nowhere, you realize that you just made more mistakes in a couple of minutes than you have you would normally have in an entire workday. Does this mean that you’re a poor worker or aren’t cut out for the job? Not necessarily. It’s probably a sign that you’re overworked and burned out. While in some instances these errors are minor and simply require a couple of minutes of repair, other times these mistakes could have serious implications.
6. Taking Your Work Home With You
You know that sickening feeling when you’re lying in bed thinking about all the work that you didn’t get done and hoping that you didn’t miss something important? When you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re at home, it’s a strong sign that you’re burning out. The stress bleeds over into every other aspect of your life, which can cause damage to personal relationships and insomnia.
7. Cynicism and Other Toxic Negative Emotions
You may begin to feel like what you’re doing just doesn’t matter that much anymore, or find yourself completely disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.
8. Generally Decreased Satisfaction
This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your personal life overall. You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at home, in the community, or with your social activities, leading to a serious funk.
Burnout often leads to exhaustion because of the toll stress takes on your mind and body. The hallmarks of burnout fatigue are waking up with no energy after a good night’s sleep, drinking large amounts of caffeine to get you through the day, or having trouble staying awake at work. Your body is trying desperately to communicate with you; listen to it.
10. Poor Self-Care
Life is a constant struggle against the things that feel good momentarily but aren’t good for you. When you experience burnout, your self-control wanes and you find yourself succumbing to temptations more easily. This is largely due to the way that stress compromises your decision-making and self-control and also partially due to lower levels of confidence and motivation.
If you recognize many of these symptoms in yourself, don’t worry. Fighting burnout is usually a matter of improved self-care. You need to find healthy ways to separate yourself from your work so that you can recharge and find balance.
In a culture that values work and productivity, a lot of people have a hard time admitting when they’re burnt out. Ignoring burnout won’t make it go away, and it can lead to chronic health problems. Start saying no to things you know will only increase your stress levels. Please remember that putting yourself first is not selfish, it’s necessary!
“Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life,” psychologist Dr. Bourg Carter has stated. “And as hard as that may seem, it’s the smartest thing to do because making a few little changes now will keep you in the race with a lot of gas to get you across the finish line.”