Recognising the signs and how to adjust
Burnout can happen to anyone routinely exposed to high levels of stress, whether work-related or not. It can cause symptoms of exhaustion, depression, and isolation. And let's be honest, it's been a tough few years!
Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that can zap the joy out of your career, friendships, and family interactions. Continual exposure to stressful situations, like caring for an ill family member, working long hours, or witnessing upsetting news related to politics and school safety can lead to this stress condition.
Burnout, however, isn’t always easy to spot. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to help you identify the signs of burnout, as well as ways to prevent it.
Interested in helping friends, family members, or co-workers who may be experiencing this stressful state? We’ve also included a list of our favorite burnout intervention tips and tricks.
Signs of Burnout
Exhaustion. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted. Physical symptoms may include headaches, stomachaches, and appetite or sleeping changes.
Isolation. People with burnout tend to feel overwhelmed. As a result, they may stop socializing and confiding in friends, family members, and co-workers.
Escape fantasies. Dissatisfied with the never-ending demands of their jobs, people with burnout may fantasize about running away or going on a solo-vacation. In extreme cases, they may turn to drugs, alcohol, or food as a way to numb their emotional pain.
Irritability. Burnout can cause people to lose their cool with friends, co-workers, and family members more easily. Coping with normal stressors like preparing for a work meeting, driving kids to school, and tending to household tasks also may start to feel insurmountable, especially when things don’t go as planned.
Frequent illnesses. Burnout, like other long-term stress, can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and insomnia. Burnout can also lead to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.
How to prevent burnout
Stress may be unavoidable, but burnout is preventable. Following these steps may help you thwart stress from getting the best of you:
Exercise. Not only is exercise good for our physical health, but it can also give us an emotional boost. Stretched for time? You don’t need to spend hours at the gym to reap these benefits. Mini-workouts and short walks are convenient ways to make exercise a daily habit.
Eat a balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet filled with omega-3 fatty acids can be a natural antidepressant. Adding foods rich in omega-3s like flaxseed oil, walnuts, and fish may help give your mood a boost.
Practice good sleep habits. Our bodies need time to rest and reset, which is why healthy sleep habits are essential for our well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, avoiding caffeine before bedtime, establishing a relaxing bedtime ritual, and banning smartphones from the bedroom can help promote sound sleep hygiene.
Ask for help. During stressful times, it’s important to reach out for help. If asking for assistance feels difficult, consider developing a self-care “check-in” with close friends and family members so that you can take care of each other during trying times.