5 Clear Signs Of Burnout & How To Prevent It
Burnout is more prevalent than ever, but the scariest part is that you might not even realise it’s happening to you.
With longer and longer workdays, work that follows you home, and a jam-packed schedule every day and night of the week, it’s no surprise that burnout is affecting so many people—and hitting them hard.
Burnout is a state of chronic stress where you lose the ability to focus, you find it difficult to rest and re-energise, and you feel ineffective and detached. The worst part is that it doesn’t happen all of a sudden; it creeps up on you slowly but surely, affecting everything from your work performance to your relationships with others.
Burnout can be tough to recover from, so prevention is key and knowing the five signs of burnout and how to counteract them can help you avoid burnout and live your healthiest life.
1. Mood Swings
Even if you’re not the most upbeat, outgoing person, you shouldn’t wake up grumpy and downcast every single day. But when you’re burnt out, it’s normal to feel irritable, depressed, and angry as your baseline. If simple things are continuously setting you off or you find your moods are affecting your personal life, you’re probably burnt out.
It’s good to be passionate and involved with work, but it’s not healthy to be so involved that it dictates your moods. While it’s not a quick or easy fix, try to rewire your thinking: every time something or someone at work irritates you, take a deep breath and ask yourself how much this really affects you. Should it ruin your entire day, just because of a thoughtless comment or an accident? This strategy definitely isn’t a cure-all, it can start to put things into perspective and help you gain a little more work-life balance.
Learn more in How to Balance Mood & Reset Your Nervous System
2. Energy Levels
One of the clearest ways to tell if you’re burnt out is your energy level or constant lack thereof.
Of course, one long day at work doesn’t make you burnt out and neither does occasionally going to bed earlier than normal. However, if you notice a pattern of always feeling tired, sluggish, and unmotivated, this is a sign that you may be suffering from burnt out.
A really clear sign is when you're suddenly feeling tired during times when you’re not used to feeling that way, like midmorning or right after work. Also, when you notice that you have trouble sleeping through the night or even falling asleep at all, despite how exhausted you are.
This is a telltale sign of burnout, and a simple way to counteract it is to add more balance into your life by setting firmer work hours. Once you leave work for the day, don’t check your email, don’t answer work calls or texts, and immerse yourself in activities that calm and re-energise you, rather than drain you out.
Learn more in 5 Daily 'Musts' To Boost Your Energy Naturally
3. Reliance On Vices
Some people naturally turn to their vices when they’re upset or stressed, and this can become even more pronounced when burnout hits.
When you find that the only way to cope with your stress or anxiety is to rely on certain vices, like smoking, eating, or alcohol, you could be in the throes of burn out.
While moderation is key, being so reliant on these could seriously affect your health for the long term and a job simply isn’t worth your health. Your priority should be to fix what’s causing the stress and anxiety, whether it’s finding less taxing work, reducing your workload, or giving up 1-2 weeknight commitments, and then your next priority should be towards curbing the emotional bingeing.
Cold turkey is one effective (but tough) technique, but you can also wean yourself off through the power of distraction: every time you feel like reaching for those sugary, fatty snacks during the day or reaching straight for an alcoholic drink the minute you get home, just stop yourself for a short moment. Reconsider if it's a habit that is serving you, or if there's a better 'outlet' that is more in line with getting you back on track.
Go for a brisk walk instead, run a hot salt bath, turn on a podcast, do a round of deep breathing, hit the gym or do a session with the Carillon Vibrational Healing Bowl.
The point is, make a more 'conscious' choice than the 'unconscious' choice and pretty soon: you’ll slowly start to rely on that particular vice less and end the cycle of dependence.
Learn more in 7 Ways to Deal With Anxiety & Find Inner Peace
4. Physical Symptoms
Maybe one of the scariest symptoms of burnout is the physical toll it takes on your body.
It’s not just tiredness or weight changes from relying on unhealthy substances, but it’s also a direct link to increased risk of illness. You can experience anything from chest pains, muscle and joint soreness, to dizziness, heart palpitations, stomach pain, shortness of breath, headaches, and more, all caused by high stress or exhaustion from working too much or too hard.
Plus, your body becomes depleted and your immune system quickly follows suit, which makes you vulnerable to illness, infection, and more. It can also cause you to lose your appetite, which doesn’t help your risk of illness, your exhaustion, or your mood.
5. Stress & Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are silent killers these days. They're big causes of depression which is rife in today's society.
It’s incredibly important not to underestimate the seriousness of stress in your life; it can affect your physical and mental health, your personal relationships, your performance at work, and your overall happiness in life.
In short, recognising stress and dealing with it right away isn’t easy, but it can impact every aspect of your life if you let it. While it’s important to ensure you’re in a work and home environment that isn’t constantly causing you stress, it’s equally important to train yourself to deal with stress effectively.
A great skill is to be able to focus only on the things you can control and less on the things you can't that give you grief.
When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, first ask yourself if it’s over something you can control or change. If not, it’s time to force yourself to move onto something else, whether it’s a productive activity, self-care, or quality time with friends and family.
If it is something you can control, make a plan to figure out how to change it so that you’re not stressed. Having an action plan can be enough to bring your stress levels down, so that you’re not risking your health and happiness.
Tips to de-stress:
- Try a detox bath
- Use essential oils designed to balance your mood
- Make yourself a homemade, healthy, delicious meal
- Do an activity that brings you joy, like yoga, reading, or a game
- Meditate with the help of an app
- Play with an animal
- Take a power nap
- Spend time outdoors earthing
Learn more in Stress Management Without Harmful Addictions
The signs of burnout are undeniable. To permanently prevent burnout, you’ll have to take a long hard look at what’s causing you this consistent stress and what’s overburdening you.
It might be as simple as doing a digital detox for a couple of days, or actually taking a few days off (and not checking your emails once whilst you're having a break).
But it might also be as serious as finding a job that gives you more work-life balance. It might be taking away a few commitments so that you have more free time for your family, or it might be finding a hobby or passion to give yourself more joy.
Burnout isn’t cured overnight, but it doesn’t happen overnight either, so even if you’re not experiencing it yet or if you’re noticing one or two signs, put these measures in place to ensure you’re the best you can be, both at work and at home.
Learn more in 5 Ways To Heal Adrenal Fatigue
Tolman Self Care.