Short Guide About Burnout: What Is It And How To Avoid It

Here's something caregivers are all too familiar with: burnout. Learn more about what burnout is and steps you can take to prevent it.

This article is originally published at SundayScaries.

It doesn’t matter who you are: burnout happens to the best of us. We all do it: you’re getting up every day, grinding away, hitting the hay, and then waking up and doing it over and over again. That can last for a while, but it gets old, and one of these days, you’ll wake up and be more than just sleepy: you’ll be exhausted, fatigued, and burned out. (Maybe today is that day!) No matter how many cups of coffee you chug or laps you take around the office, you’re feeling it: you’re wiped.

That’s okay! We live in a busy, nonstop world, and the rise of technology and digital enhancement hasn’t really helped, either. Just because cities never sleep doesn’t mean you can do the same thing and be unscathed. We’re here to tell you six symptoms of burnout, and ways that you can recover and get into a healthier headspace. Don’t be discouraged! It’s a long process, but taking care of yourself is always worth it.

What is burnout?

Burnout can be brought about by chronic stress or anxiety–that is, stress that occurs over and over in your life. You might be experiencing burnout if you are exhausted, cynical, and generally feel less capable to do the tasks and things you’ve always done. It can happen at any time, but burnout can be compounded when other parts of your life are bringing on stress or taking too much of your attention. Plus, if you have a tendency towards perfectionism, you may bring burnout on more quickly because you are so much more critical of your own work than maybe you need to be.

Sign One: Exhaustion

This is a pretty clear sign: are you exhausted? It may not just be physical exhaustion, although that’s a huge indicator (Note: try some self-care to get a good night’s sleep in). Are you relationally or mentally exhausted? Maybe even emotionally exhausted? If you find you have little or nothing to give to friends, family members, or coworkers–heck, if you find that you don’t have anything to give yourself, this may be a clear sign of burnout impacting your mental health.

Sign Two: Cynicism

Some people are just generally more cynical than others, but if you’ve noticed an uptick in your pessimism and a generally negative attitude, this can be a sign of burnout. If you feel numb or a lack of passion about things you used to love, or have begun to nit-pick your coworkers and superiors, this can be another sign of burnout.

Sign Three: Reduced Ability to Perform

You may wake up one day, thinking: “Didn’t I used to love this job? What happened?” If this is you, reduced ability to enjoy and do your job properly is another sign of burnout. If you are lacking creativity, are having a really difficult time concentrating, or are feeling generally unmotivated to complete tasks, your body may be trying to tell you something. This workplace stress may not necessarily be your fault! Or, maybe you’ve been working so hard that you’ve lost your motivation for working hard in the first place. As we’ve said, performance suffering in the workplace happens to the best of us. Take a step back and look at your work environment on a larger scale. What can you do to reduce burnout at work? They might be small changes, or you may realize you need a more drastic shift in your routine.

Sign Four: Decline in Self Care

Self care isn’t some wishy-washy scam from the health and wellness industry to make money. In reality, taking care of yourself is vital to your success and happiness in every other part of your life–in your relationships, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. And when we say self-care, we don’t just mean how long it’s been since you got a pedicure (although, that totally counts). Have you been getting a full night’s sleep recently? Are you eating all three meals? Are you drinking more alcohol or coffee to supplement your lack of sleep or your stress levels? These can all be clear indicators that something isn’t right.

Sign Five: Lacking Work-Life Balance

Are you thinking about work all the time, even if you aren’t at work? Are you having a hard time leaving your email at the office? If you’re checking messages at 3am, you may need to integrate some new boundaries into your life to help leave work at work. (And if you’re the type of person who brings work on vacation, you may need to reconsider your definition of vacation.)

Sign Six: Increased Health Problems

Whether having a hard time sleeping or experiencing digestive issues, we are holistic creatures. So when one system is stressed, other systems in our bodies will also experience significant stress. If you’re noticing an increase in health problems over a long period of time, you may need to consider how stressors at your workplace or at home may be causing difficulties with your health and well-being.

How to Overcome:

Okay, so now that you’ve identified burnout, what do you do? How do you recover? Well, just remember that these things take time! Give yourself the grace to “be in process.”

1. Set Aside Time to Relax

Actively try to leave work at work and give yourself permission to take time off. Whether that means an hour each night, or reserving one day of the weekend to totally veg out, work hard to respect those boundaries. Read a book, binge a TV show, or take your dog for a walk. Set aside times to do what makes you happy, and honor that time.

2. Take Care of Yourself

This is the easiest to say, but somehow the hardest to do. Whether this means getting enough sleep, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking more water than coffee, or treating yourself to a pedicure, self-care really can make a huge difference. Maybe you integrate some new supplements into your diet, like CBD Gummies, to help give you a little boost of energy or cut down on some of your day to day anxiety.

3. Ask for Help

Burnout isn’t a sign of weakness, but ignoring signs of burnout is. Ask your boss for help if you’re feeling burdened at work, or have a conversation with a partner or spouse about balancing stress at home.

4. Prioritize

When you’re experiencing burnout, you may become less organized and more distracted by any little thing. Taking time to write everything down, categorize tasks, and prioritize those tasks in order can help bring some serious clarity to your mind, not to mention give you tangible goals to work for.

If you’re experiencing burnout, don’t lose hope! You can recover. Take it slow, take it easy, and integrate others into your life who can uplift and encourage you. You can do it!