How to spot the signs and take action before burnout strikes
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Happiful
A term that was first coined in the 70s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, ‘burnout’ is a mental health condition that can occur following long-term stress, leading to both physical and mental exhaustion.
Burnout can involve a complete loss of motivation, or a sense of mental and physical fatigue; it can also create a loss of passion for things that once made you happy, and a sense of hopelessness.
However, there are things you can do to prevent it. Once you’re able to spot the symptoms you can put boundaries in your life, reassess your priorities, and reach out for help from loved ones or a professional.
Everyone will experience burnout differently, but what are some of the common signs?
Getting up in the morning feels very difficult
You may not have exactly been an early bird before, but getting out of bed in the morning can now feel like a momentous task. Your body feels heavy and, no matter how much sleep you got the night before, you just don’t feel ready to part ways with the bedsheets. Whether it’s fatigue or dread of the day ahead keeping you in bed, stop to recognise how your habits have changed.
The things you were once passionate about don’t excite you anymore
A sense of apathy can come hand-in-hand with burnout. Whether it’s in your work or in your hobbies, if you find that the things that you used to feel passionate about, and which brought you joy, now don’t seem to do the job, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing burnout. While during periods of high-stress you may normally find yourself more engaged in the tasks before you, when experiencing burnout the opposite is true, and you may find that you are disengaged entirely. Tune-in, and consider when your interest first started to decline – can you trace it back to a particular moment of high stress?
You’re experiencing ‘brain fog’ and difficulty concentrating
Does your mind feel foggy, like you can’t quite walk through the murk to find your focus? Because burnout is linked with mental fatigue, you may find that things like concentration and creativity are harder to muster. If your burnout is related to your work, this can trap you in a cycle, so it’s important to try to recognise the root of the problem when you can.
Your relationships with others are becoming strained
Something has changed between you and your friends, family or colleagues. Perhaps you find yourself becoming irritated more easily, or you’ve stopped being as social as you would normally be. When going through any kind of mental health challenge, the people around us are key to feeling better so, if you feel as though your relationships are suffering, this is a sure sign that it’s time to reach out for help.
You notice you’re experiencing low-mood and depression
In very general terms, one of the key differences between general stress and burnout is that stress can lead to an increase in anxiety, whereas burnout can lead to depression. Low-mood can present itself in many different ways, but will often touch you in the experiences described here.
The important thing to remember is that there are ways that you can take back control. It may not be easy, it will probably take some time, and you may have to make some big lifestyle changes to get there.
Burnout is something that affects many people throughout their lives, but is also something that can be overcome.