You are so occupied with the amazing modern juggling act, you don’t notice that you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, ineffectual and unhappy. We regularly juggle a career, family and social obligations in a highly connected world where no one ever seems to switch clearly and cleanly from work to home.
Being constantly in demand adds stress while at the same time sucking away the very time that might help to put things right.
Burnout sets in even though you’re successful, because you’re not giving yourself the time and care it takes to regenerate your depleted reserves. However, stress alone is not the same as burnout. Burnout is created by too much stress for too long.
Burnout is rife among hard-driving, high-achieving professionals.
It tends to happen to people who value their contributions to everything they do, and work hard to ensure they’re doing a great job, at everything, all the time. High performers and high achievers often try to be the very best at everything, constantly comparing themselves to other people, always measuring their performance to that of others.
To beat back burnout it is firstly really important to recognise and acknowledge that you’re in the process or burning out, or that you have in fact burned out. Admitting to being burned out can feel like confessing to some sort of terrible failure, or even some kind of character flaw. It most certainly isn’t!! To get to a point where you’re experiencing burnout, you must have been giving 110% (or more) day in, day out for some time.
Burnout symptoms can vary from person to person, but it is universally accepted that long term stress can result in the depletion (and sometimes collapse) of physical, emotional and cognitive abilities.
WHAT ARE THE 8 MOST IMPORTANT SIGNS OF 'BURNOUT' TO LOOK OUT FOR?
Exhaustion or chronic low energy
Stress depletes your physical resources. Your body uses more nutrients when under stress, yet ironically, you can often experience a downturn in appetite during unrelenting stress. You might also struggle with your sleep and although you may nap more, you don’t feel refreshed. You can start to feel that you might never sleep and wake up feeling refreshed again.
Nothing seems worthwhile anymore. You dread work and returning to the office after the weekend feels like picking up a burden. Nothing you do seems to have any impact, and things you used to do happily hold no pleasure.
A lot of anxiety that happens during burnout is generalized. It doesn’t necessarily arise from any particular situations or circumstance. It can appear to manifest from nowhere. This can result in symptoms varying from an inability to switch off work once you’re home to panic attacks.
Collapse of motivation and enthusiasm, growth in apathy
Nothing seems worth doing and you lack enthusiasm for any task, even the ones you used to really enjoy can feel like a chore. Apathy gets in the way of you trying to do anything to break through your burnout.
Everyone has different levels of interest in socialising. However, during a burnout phase, people will usually actively avoid as much social interaction as possible. Even if you are an extrovert, socialising can become uncomfortable and very draining.
Prolonged stress and anxiety (even if underlying and unacknowledged) can impact substantially on your cognitive function. Concentration, focus, recall, memory and mental organisation can all decline substantially. The struggle this causes can result in fatigue, frustration, confusion and self-doubt.
Not feeling good enough
No matter how hard you work, or how much you try, you might feel that whatever you do it isn’t good enough. Your inner self talk has become unkind towards yourself. You may even be feeling that you don’t ‘look good enough’, you ‘aren’t clever enough’, you ‘aren’t fit enough or funny enough’ or any number of negative feelings towards yourself that aren’t kind or healthy (or true for that matter!).
When you are experiencing burnout, you might suffer more aches and pains, and an inability to shake colds or minor infections. This comes from the effects of chronic stress on our immune system. On-going stress also results in the hormone cortisol being released in unusual abundance, which can result in irritated and inflamed joints.
If you are experiencing any of the above...
Part two of this blog goes into more detail about things that you can do to help support yourself to avoid burnout. There are some really great and simple tips to help you step back and ease up on yourself.
In the meantime, try to focus on healthy and nutritious food, gentle exercise, seeing friends or family and trying to block out some time for yourself in your diary to relax and take a step back.
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