Burnout: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Prevention, Recovery

If you are feeling helpless or broken due to constant stress or have been completely worn out by it, then you may be experiencing burnout. When you are burned out, you may find everything deary and problems may seem never ending. You may also find it difficult to gather up all the energy and handle the situation all on your own. The detachment and the unhappiness in the burnout can threaten your relationships, job as well as your health. Nevertheless, this can be cured. You can easily gain your balance back by making some time for yourself, re-assessing your priorities and by seeking help from others.

Burnout is a Result of Prolonged or Excessive Stress

Burnout is a condition of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that is caused by prolonged or excessive stress. It occurs only when a person feels overwhelmed and is unable to cope with the essential requirements. As the stress continues to grow, a person loses his or her interest that led them in making certain goal for themselves.

Burnout is a Result of Prolonged or Excessive Stress

Burnout saps up all the energy and your productivity is reduced, which leaves you hopeless, helpless, resentful and cynical. You may have a feeling that you cannot give anything more than your limits.

All of us have days of boredom, unappreciation and overloaded. This is because the person cannot feel being rewarded or someone else drags you like a super model. If you feel like this at all times, you may have a feeling of burnout.

You May be A Victim of Burnout if:

  • Every day may seem like a bad day.
  • Caring about your home or work may seem like wasting the energy.
  • You may feel exhausted at all times.
  • Most of your day is spent in feeling dull or overwhelming.
  • You may feel like nothing is being appreciated or makes a difference.

Burnout may have negative effects and it may spill all over the tasks that you carry out in your everyday life. Your body may become vulnerable to ailment like flu and cold. As there are many associated consequences with burnout, it has to be dealt in the right manner.

How is Burnout Different from General Stress?

Burnout may be a cause of stress that is unrelenting and it may cause that it causes so much stress. Stress mounts up when the pressure builds up psychologically as well as physically. Stressed people are often of an imagination that they would feel better if everything was under control.

Burnout is not just about feeling stressed. When you are burned, you may feel empty, devoid of motivation and you may need something beyond care. People who are suffering from burnout may not see any source of positiveness or changes in their situation. If there is excessive stress and you are drowning in your responsibilities, you are all dried up with burnout. While you are aware when you are subjected to stress, you will not be able to notice the happening of burnout at all times.

What are the Causes of Burnout?

In most cases, burnout can cause troubles in your job. Anyone who feels undervalued or seems to have overworked is at a greater risk of developing burnout. From the mom who has been struggling to handle the chores of her kids and the ailing father to the overworking professional who has not taken a leave since the past few years are the perfect examples of people who can be subjected to burn out.

Burnout is not only caused when you are clouded with too many responsibilities at a time has to handle stressful work. Personality traits and lifestyle habits can also be a major cause of burnout and this may be the time when you may feel difficult to meet the demands at work as well as at home.

Causes of Burnout Due to Job

The following are the work related causes of burnout:

  • Having a feeling you have no control or very little control over your work.
  • Lack of reward or recognition when you do something good
  • Over demanding or unclear expectations at work
  • Unchallenging or monotonous working patterns
  • Working in high pressure or chaotic environment.

Causes of Burnout Due to Bad Lifestyle

The following are the lifestyle related causes of burnout:

  • Working for long hours without taking some time for socializing and relaxation.
  • Being in the zone of higher expectations of too many people.
  • Taking too many responsibilities at a time without seeking help from your fellow persons.
  • Not sleeping for adequate time
  • Lack of supportive or close relationships.

Causes of Burnout Due to Personality Traits

Below are the causes of burnout because of personality traits:

  • Tendency of being perfect in every task. Nothing is ever perfect or good enough.
  • Having a pessimistic view of the world and yourself.
  • Feeling or the need of being under control. Refusing to entrust others with something.
  • Is of a Type A personality or a high achiever in all terms.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?

Burnout is a slow process that takes root over a long period. It does not happen instantly or within a single day, but it can creep into your sound personality when you leave it unnoticed. The symptoms and signs of burnout are quite subtle in the beginning, but they worsen with time.

Think about the early signs of burnout as red flags or warning that wrong things have to be addressed at the earliest without making any compromises. When you pay attention to these signs, you can save yourself from massive breakdowns. If you tend to ignore these red flags, you will gradually burn out.

Bodily Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Bodily signs and symptoms of burnout include:

  • Feeling drained or tired at all times
  • Feeling sick and poorer immunity
  • Regular headaches, muscle aches and back pain
  • Change in sleeping habits as well as appetite

Non-cognitive Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Non-cognitive signs and symptoms of burnout are:

  • Self-doubt or sense of being a failure
  • Feeling defeated, helpless and trapped
  • Feeling aloof or a sense of detachment
  • Loss of enthusiasm
  • Become progressively cynical or have a negative outlook towards life
  • Decreased sense of achievement or satisfaction.

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout include:

  • Withdrawal from everyday jobs
  • Desolation from others or staying aloof
  • Using alcohol, food and drugs to cope with the feelings
  • Taking out the frustration on your close ones
  • Skipping daily work or coming late from work or leaving home early.

How to Prevent Burnout?

If you identify the red flags of looming burnout in your life, remember that it will only worsen when you leave it untreated. If you take corrective actions or steps to gain balance, you can prevent the full blown breakdown that can be caused by burning out. The following are the best ways to prevent burnout:

  • Begin the day with Meditation: Make sure to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes in meditation or writing a journal or stretching your body or reading an inspirational book right after you wake up. Avoid jumping out of bed suddenly.
  • Embrace Healthful Exercising, Eating and Sleeping Habits: When you exercise regularly, take rest and follow a healthy meal, you will feel energized and gain stability in handling every day stresses at work or at home.
  • Learn to Say “NO”: Learn to say “no” when you do not feel like doing a task or have been overextending yourself in meeting goals. Have a habit of agreeing to things that you are willing to do in a single day.
  • Take an Interval from Digital Life: Set time limit for each, after which you will have to disconnect from work. Put away your phone or laptop and spend some time with yourself.
  • Spend Time On Hobbies for Relaxation: Creativity is an influential remedy for burnout. Try to be a part of something creative or start pursuing your favorite hobby. Choose only those activities that will keep you away from work stress.
  • Adopt Stress Management Techniques: You may feel helpless when you are treading on the road of burnout. At such times, you may have massive controlling power in your hand than you can imagine. Learning to manage all the stress can help you in regaining the lost balance.

Road to Recovery from Burnout: Burnout Recovery Strategies

When you have already crossed the breaking point, it is too late to prevent the instances of burn out. If that is the case, it is important for you to take some serious action. You will damage your physical and emotional well being when you push yourself during the phase of exhaustion.

There may be a requirement of some additional steps even though the following tips may prove to be helpful at times.

  1. Slowing Down is the Best Burnout Recovery Strategy

    Cutting down on the activities which are unnecessary is the first strategy to recover from burnout. When you are the pedestal of burnout, merely correcting your lifestyle or attitude will not solve the issue. You will have to force yourself to take a break or at least slow down. Set yourself aside from all the activities as well as commitments that you have made. Take some time to reflect, rest and heal in the meantime.

  2. Asking for Support and Help is One of the Smart Strategies to Recover from Burnout

    Getting support from friends and family is very helpful in the road of recovery from burnout. Your natural response would be to save the left out energy when you are feeling burned out. The key is to take support of friends and family rather than staying aloof. By simply sharing your feeling with your loved ones, you can easily vent the stress. The listener does not have to give you the solution, being a good listener would be more than enough.

  3. Strategically Design and Execute your Goals and Priorities to Recover from Burnout

    Once you have cut down unnecessary activities, it is important to arrange your priorities. This strategy will help in recovering from burnout. Burnout is something you cannot deny and is important to handle it in the right manner. Take some time out to think about your dreams as well as goals. If you are neglecting something, be sure to ask that is it important for you? Burnout is rather an opportunity for you to connect with yourself and gain back the lost balance in life as well as doing things that make you happy.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 18, 2019

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