Burnout is a scary and isolating thing. It is described as a ”physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress” and it can affect anyone at any time.
Here are some of the telltale signs that you should look out for as well as some advice on how you can deal with it.
I’m not talking about snoozing you alarm three times because you just can’t be bothered getting up on a Monday morning. Chronic fatigue is very different. If you’re suffering from burnout you will feel tired almost every day. In later stages, you will feel emotionally and physically drained. This can lead to a sense of dread.
Lack of appetite
In the beginning, you might not feel hungry. Maybe you’ll skip lunch or forget to have breakfast. Over time, however, this can turn into a real issue if you begin to lose a significant amount of weight. You need to listen to your body. It is clearly trying to tell you something.
If you’re feeling completely detached from the people and things that you care about then you may be suffering from burnout. Are you still interested in your hobbies and social activities? Do you make time for your friends and family? If the answer to both of these questions is no then it might be time to rethink things.
When you are facing burnout your body is suffering. Your immune system is completely run down which means you will be more susceptible to coughs, stomach bugs and everything in between. If you’re taking a lot of time off work for minor ailments then you need to figure out why.
Lots of people experience outbursts of anger when they are on the verge of burnout. You might be a calm and collected person but the extra stress and strain can easily lead to eruptive outbursts. If this isn’t usually a part of your personality then something could be wrong.
Burnout and anxiety go hand in hand. In the beginning, you may feel tense and worried for no particular reason. As things get worse this will eventually take over your work and personal life. Stop it before it gets out of hand.
How to deal with burnout
Take a break
It’s not always possible to down tools completely but if you think you’re suffering from burnout then you really should consider taking some time off for the sake of your health. Book some annual leave. Take at least two weeks off to do something that you love. If that’s lying by the beach in Spain or hiking in Nepal then do it. If you don’t have any annual leave left then ask to take an unpaid holiday.
Find your escape
When you’re dealing with burnout, you’re facing a lot of stress and emotion. It helps if you can find a way to channel these feelings. Exercise like running or martial arts is a great way to boost your natural serotonin levels while creative hobbies like painting can help you to unwind. Find what works for you and do it often.
If you’re concerned about burnout then you need to scale back. Say no to all new commitments for at least a month. That might mean turning down after work drinks or rejecting an exciting new side project. If you’re open and honest with people they will completely understand where you’re coming from. The last thing you need to do is add to your plate.
It’s definitely a last resort but if you are suffering from severe burnout then calling it quits might be the best way to recover. Use the time off to decide if this career is right for you. It might be time to make a change. Your health should be your top priority.