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Burnout is one of those things in life that can really throw a giant wrench in your plans. We often don’t see it coming. Or maybe we are just not paying attention to the warning signs. We are going full speed and pushing ourselves to capacity, but ignoring all the signs that are telling us to slow down.
Burnout can take a mega toll on your productivity, motivation, and overall happiness, but did you know that burnout is a state of chronic stress? It is a very real condition that people struggle with on a regular basis.
Some very common signs of burnout include:
- physical and emotional exhaustion
- cynicism and detachment
- feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
When you have reached the full impact of burnout, functioning effectively on a personal and/or professional level will be a struggle. But the thing is, burnout doesn’t just hit you out of the blue one day. I like to think of it as if someone is placing something on your shoulders every day or every couple of days. You can feel the weight every time something is added, but you keep trudging along, ignoring the weight being added to your shoulders. Eventually, it is simply too heavy and too much, and you fall. Burnout is just like that – slowly building until it is simply too much.
But the problem is that we ignore or miss the signs that our bodies and minds are showing us. If we notice these signs, we can take a step back and be proactive in conquering the on-coming burnout.
Life is so busy. It is hard to get caught up and to not always be go, go, go. How does anyone maintain a job, a relationship, friends, exercise, healthy eating, self-care, kids, etc. etc. Everyone has a full plate, made up of what is important to them. And sometimes, we simply take too much food and our plate is overflowing. When our plate gets too full, we start to push aside certain aspects of our life, like self-care, or time for yourself.
They always seem to be the first to go right?
Well, when we get rid of that down time or time for ourselves, that is when burnout seems to creep in.
So today I want to talk about identifying burnout before it hits. How can we be proactive in catching signs of burnout before it takes us down completely? Well, the first step is by recognizing the signs and actually paying attention to them when your mind and body are shouting at you that you need to take a break.
Here are the most popular signs and symptoms you may see if you are nearing burnout:
1 | Insomnia
Leading up to burnout an early sign you may notice is that you start to have trouble falling asleep. As you get closer to burning out that may increase to a more persistent issue that you start experience every night instead of every once in a while.
2 | Having a hard time focusing
A very common early sign of burnout if lack of focus or concentration. As you get closer to burning out this may reach the point where completing your work is difficult or you may even begin to fall behind.
3 | Physical Symptoms
This could be anything from chest pain, headaches, shortness of breath, stomach pains, dizziness, etc. If you start to experience these types of symptoms you should pay attention to your body and respect what it is trying to tell you. Taking a step back and assessing if you are nearing burnout is important. Be proactive and take a break or decrease your stressors.
4 | Chronic Fatigue
A very common early sign of burnout is lack of energy and feeling tired most of the time. If these signs are ignored you may eventually reach the point where you are both physically and emotionally exhausted. You may feel completely drained and depleted and even have feelings of dread about the days ahead.
5 | Increased Illness
Have you been taking more sick days than usual? It may be time to consider your nearing burnout. When we feel exhausted and depleted, our immune system often becomes weakened too. This makes us more vulnerable to illness. If you are feeling this way – take the appropriate steps to rest and restore your immune system so that you don’t burnout completely.
6 | Anxiety
Early signs of burnout may include mild forms of anxiety such as worry, tension, on feeling on edge. As you move closer to burnout your anxiety may increase to the point where it interferes with your daily life.
7 | Depression
Feelings of sadness or hopelessness are early signs of burnout as well. If this isn’t addressed and you continue to burnout, depression and feelings of worthlessness may increase to the point that you may need to seek professional help. Being aware of the early signs is a key to prevention.
8 | Anger
As an early sign this may present itself as irritability or tension but will eventually increase to outbursts or serious anger issues. I know for me this is a big warning sign that I am burning out. I start to get more and more irritable over small issues and then I may blow up at a loved one or co-worker. I now recognize that this is a warning sign for me, and that I need to take some down time or prioritize / delegate my workload.
9 | Isolation
What may begin as some resistance to socializing in the early stages will increase to irritability when someone speaks to you, or to completely avoiding interaction. I’m never one to really strike up a social interaction with a stranger, but when I catch myself not wanting to chat with my co-workers or even my partner, I know this is a warning sign for me.
10 | Loss of Enjoyment
Losing enjoyment in everyday things can be a sign that you are nearing burnout. It may start with not enjoying your workplace or not wanting to be there but if left ignored may extend into the time you spend with loved ones, hobbies, or things that you would normally love to do.
11 | Disconnecting
An early sign of burnout can be disconnecting from others.You may start to slightly detach from your life – not wanting to go to work, maybe even calling in sick, cancelling outings with friends, etc. When you start to pull back and detach from your responsibilities and obligations, reflect and ask yourself if you are starting to burnout.
12 | Negativity
Starting to feel more pessimistic or negative is a sign of burning out. You may start to talk negatively to yourself or to have a poor attitude, and that may extend to feeling negatively about those around you as well. The closer you get to burn out the more negative you may become.
13 | Feelings of Hopelessness
A common sign of burnout if feeling like nothing is going your way. You start to feel hopeless and like nothing is going right, and you start to feel sorry for yourself. As the burnout progresses you may start to feel like you should just give up or have a “what is the point” mentality.
14 | Poor Performance
You may feel like you are working hard but you are not seeing the results. The thing is that burnout actually prevents you from being as productive as you usually would be, so you may see an impact on your results or performance, and feel like your to-do list is not getting completed. You may start to feel like you will never catch up or feel frustrated that you aren’t getting the results you normally would.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms then you should take it as a sign that you may be headed for burnout. It is so important to listen to our body and mind and learn which signs may be relevant to you personally. Once we learn our warning signs, we must learn to not ignore those signs. Take the time to really and truly address the stressors in your life, your workload, your mental load, etc. and find ways in which you can reduce them before you reach burnout. Burnout isn’t like getting sick; it doesn’t go away after a few days of rest. You need to actually make some changes in your life if you want to stop burning out. That may sound difficult, or even unrealistic, but it’s the smartest thing that you can do to ensure you do not continue to burnout or run yourself into the ground.
For some ideas to overcome burnout, you can check out this post: How to Recover From Burnout: 8 Tips for Getting Back on Track