If constant stress has you feeling helpless, disillusioned, and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout. Learn what you can do to regain your balance and feel positive and hopeful again.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. It’s important to deal with burnout right away.
Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
Most of us have days when we feel helpless, overloaded, or unappreciated—when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. If you feel like this most of the time, however, you may be burned out.
Burnout is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can creep up on you. If you pay attention and actively reduce your stress, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.
Stress vs. Burnout
Characterized by over-engagement Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are over reactive Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity Produces feeling helpless and hopeless
Loss of energy Loss of motivation, ideals and hope
Leads to anxiety orders Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely May make life seem not worth living
Dealing with Burnout Tip 1: Turn to Other People
Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress and talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to “fix” your stressors; they just have to be a good listener.
Reach out to those closest to you,
Be more sociable with your coworkers
Limit your contact with negative people.
Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you.
Find new friends.
Tip 2: Reframe the Way you Look at Work
Try to find some value in your work.
Find balance in your life.
Make friends at work.
Take time off.
Tip 3: Re-evaluate your Priorities
Take a daily break from technology.
Nourish your creative side.
Set aside relaxation time
Get plenty of sleep.
Tip 4: Make Exercise a Priority
Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout. It’s also something you can do right now to boost your mood.
Rhythmic exercise, where you move both your arms and legs, is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Try walking, running, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or even dancing.
Tip 5: Support Your Mood and Energy Levels with a Healthy Diet
What you put in your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day.
Minimize sugar and refined carbs
Reduce your high intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood
Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost.
Drink alcohol in moderation
Samantha Barnes at Sweet Spot Family Counseling suggests that we need to allow ourselves permission to reach out for support.
“Anytime is a good time for therapy; not just during a crisis. Therapy can provide the emotional support and problem solving skills you need to help you “live your best life.”
Written By: Jane Laker