Do you have tired, aching limbs? Are you struggling to get out of bed in the morning? Does nothing in life feel good anymore?
These are some of the signs of burnout, and this might be what you're experiencing.
What Is Burnout?
‘Burnout’ is the state of exhaustion you reach after a period of chronic stress. Burnout is more than just feeling a little low or tired: it’s a physical, mental exhaustion that can take a huge toll on your day-to-day life.
Sadly, burnout is fairly common; the American Psychological Association has found that around 24% of us are under “extreme” levels of stress. The trend has been increasing, and anyone can be affected, no matter their age or profession.
If you’re suffering from severe burnout or late stage adrenal fatigue, it’s likely that you’re unable to function effectively in everyday life – both on a personal and a professional level.
Why Does Burnout Happen?
Job-related stress is one of the most common triggers. If you’re unable to meet the demands of your job, this results in internal disharmony as your motivational needs are unable to be fulfilled.
Researchers say that the longer you stay in a job that isn’t the right ‘fit’, the more likely you are to experience burnout. This can be exacerbated by a poor relationship with your boss, difficult working conditions, or a long commute.
Other factors contributing to burnout might include partying too hard, getting insufficient sleep, or emotional stress related to your family or other relationships. Anything that causes you chronic stress can lead to burnout.
Signs of Burnout
Each person will experience burnout differently, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact signs. The signs and symptoms can vary from person to person, but there are some common themes:
- Chronic exhaustion: Lacking energy or feeling ‘drained’ on most days of the week.
- Insomnia: Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Poor memory: Forgetfulness and lack of focus to the point of being unable to work.
- Recurrent illness/infection: Frequent colds, flu or other ills due to a weakened immune system.
- Physical ailments: Chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, light-headedness, gastrointestinal pains, headaches.
- Lack of appetite: No longer feeling hungry or interested in food.
- Anxiety or panic attacks: Tension and anxiety that interferes with your daily life.
- Low mood or depression: Consistent feelings of hopelessness or being ‘trapped.’
- Anger or irritability: Outbursts of anger or violence that are out of character.
- Lack of enjoyment: Avoidance or detachment towards things that used to make you happy.
- Withdrawal from the world: Isolating yourself from friends and family
3 Ways to Get Back on Track
If you’ve identified yourself as a victim of burnout, fear not – there are ways to overcome it! Try these simple tips:
1. Take a Break – Regularly
Working hard doesn’t have to mean grinding yourself to the bone. In fact, the more you push yourself, the less likely you are to produce quality work.
Taking regular breaks allows both your mind and body refuel and refresh. That’s what breaks are for! Step away from your workspace to get some air, go for a walk or even meditate. When you have lunch, eat somewhere away from your desk. These intervals will wake up your brain and renew your senses.
Of course, it’s important to take these breaks at the right times. Mornings tend to be when people feel their most energized – so aim to get the toughest challenges done earlier in the day. Then reward yourself with that break!
2. Seek Help
Why go it alone? Reaching out for help or advice from friends, family and even colleagues may be the best thing you ever did. After all, they’re sometimes the people who know you best – and they’ll be there for you in times of need.
Talking to other people can also shed some light on why you’ve hit burnout. Chances are they’ve seen your downward spiral, so they’ll be able to suggest ways to take a step back.
You may also find that other people have been the same situation as you. Hearing how they climbed out of the ‘burnout’ hole could be invaluable to your own recovery.
If nothing else, just sharing your thoughts and feelings at this difficult time can kick off the healing process.
3. Make A Change
The cause of your burnout may stem from any number of things: your job, your lifestyle, or even certain people. Whatever it is, perhaps it’s time to reassess your current life circumstances – and make a change.
The ability to change jobs may not be easy, and it’s likely to require some careful planning. But it’s important to realize that if your job isn’t fulfilling you, there’s little point in forcing yourself to slog away at it. You won’t be doing yourself – or your work – any favors.
Other factors that may have led to your burnout – such as certain people or your lifestyle – may not be as simple to change. People can’t always be avoided, but they can be managed.
The same goes for your lifestyle. If it’s your diet, or the way you party, or some form of self-abuse that’s led to your burnout, consider what you need to do to avoid it happening again. This may require the help of a therapist or even a family conference.
The Road to Recovery: Get on It!
Whatever the cause of your burnout, the ability to get back on track is entirely in your hands.
There is plenty of advice out there, but it’s only worth hearing if you put it into practice.
Do you want to go on feeling exhausted and miserable?
Remember – this life is the only one you’ve got – make the most of it!
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Fawne Hansen is an author and wellness coach specializing in the treatment of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. She lives in beautiful British Columbia with her husband and two sons.