Burnout can take many forms. We often hear of it in the workplace, but you can also experience relationship burnout and emotional burnout. Burnout leaves you drained, paralysed and unable to move on.
Some symptoms of burnout
For me this was the most obvious and most debilitating symptom. I was sleeping ten hours a night and still struggling to stay awake at work. I was tired ALL OF THE TIME.
Exhaustion is a symptom that creeps up on you. It starts with a lack of energy and gradually turns into feeling overwhelmed by simple tasks. Even the most reasonable request from your boss or partner can result in feelings of resentment and anger.
2. Persistent Illness
Most people ignore the symptoms of burnout and continue to ‘push through’. This drastically compromises their immune system and makes them susceptible to infections. Illnesses such as colds, flu and other immune related sickness are common for people experiencing burnout.
As the symptoms of burnout increase, so do levels of anxiety. Just thinking about an upcoming meeting at work, or a social event in your calendar can elevate your cortisol levels and trigger a release of adrenaline. These hormones interfere with the ability to think clearly and have a negative impact upon work productivity and interpersonal relationships.
It often starts with feeling low, moody or irritable and if left untreated can result in feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. You no longer find enjoyment from your usual activities and may end up isolating yourself socially too.
Causes of Burnout
Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
Often times we assume burnout is the result of external stress placed upon us by either a job or a relationship. What is often overlooked is the pressure we place upon ourselves, especially those of us who have high expectations of ourselves. Burnout can happen when we feel a lack of effectiveness or achievement in our jobs, relationships, or life in general.
Burnout is especially common in helping professions where people work hard with seemingly little outcome for their efforts.
1. Talk to someone
People experiencing burnout often withdraw and become socially isolated because they are exhausted and feel little energy to ‘give anything’ back. When burned out it’s important to connect with some form of support to help you through this difficult time. It may be in the form of a close friend, an online support group or a professional. Finding someone you trust and whom you can confide in is key to progressing on your healing journey.
2. Life-giving activities
Feeling ineffective or unproductive in your current life circumstance can cause burnout. Taking up a new hobby or spending time engaging in what I call ‘life giving activities’ can be the key to overcoming feelings of dissatisfaction.
Often people are unaware of what their life giving activities are. Take some time to try new things and work out what it is that you love to do. You could learn a language, an instrument, take an art class, a yoga class, go bushwalking or try new recipes in the kitchen. Whatever you life giving activity is block out some time in your calendar and DO IT!
3. Go on a journey of self-discovery
Use this opportunity to do some soul searching. Read self-help books, journals and speak to wise people. Once you have a better understanding of what caused your burnout you will be able to have a more effective conversation with you boss or partner about how to reverse the effects and avoid burnout in the future.
Burnout is curable, but requires patience and time. Hitting a place of exhaustion didn’t happen overnight and it will take some time to get back to a place of well-being. Be kind to yourself as you continue on the journey.