Top 6 Signs You’re Burnt Out and How to Overcome Them
April 13th, 2023
Have you ever found yourself struggling to get going like you normally would but you are not quite sure why? Do you ever want to take things off your to-do list but you just don’t seem to have your usual energy and drive?
Let’s run through the 6 clear signs that you are feeling burnt out so that you can know when you need rest and restoration. Afterall, it is important to work at your best and do the best you can but it is equally as important to know when to let go, relax and unwind.
Burnout is a serious condition that can leave you feeling drained, depleted, and uninspired to go about your day to day life. It is usually accompanied by many physical and mental symptoms, making it difficult to function like you normally would. Life these days has become more hectic than ever. We have more demands on our time, attention, and money. A tiny break from this day to day hustle and rat race is often considered for the weak and lazy. But the thing is, we have got to realize that there is a point of diminishing returns for our hustle and grind. We have to protect and nourish our long-term physical and mental well-being.
Sign #1: The Fire Within You Has Diminished
Remember the things that you used to take a deep interest in and used to execute them and they would take you to Cloud 9. You would feel so motivated and focused but do you now seem more uninterested and unable to do them like you normally would? That, my friends, is the first clear sign that you might be experiencing burnout and it’s that you have a diminished feeling of drive and motivation for things that you are normally very motivated and passionate to do. The things that you are happy spending hours and hours doing, you are just no longer interested in. They no longer seem appealing to you. You might be asking yourself, what is going on?
A simple solution to this is to simplify. Ask yourself what is the best way for me to rejuvenate my energy right now? Is it as simple as needing a good night’s sleep and catching up on some lost hours? Or is it something much deeper? Is there a longer period of rest and relaxation that I am craving? What is it that would be more beneficial? And sometimes, the best way to speed up is to slow down, press pause, and rebalance. So, if you notice that that fire in you has diminished, that is the first sign that you may be experiencing burnout.
If you feel like the fire within you has died down, don’t worry! There are solutions to make sure you can get back on track. Talking to a trusted professional, whether this be your family’s doctor or your school counselor. They can help provide you tips and tricks to make sure you deal with your stress in a healthy and safe way. If you feel better about talking to someone anonymously or online, there are ways to do it. Whether it be a hotline or an app like ‘Betterhelp’, there are plenty of ways to get in contact with someone and work through your stress. By providing affordable and accessible healthcare for all, we can help make sure that more people can cope in a healthy way.
Sign #2: Unable to move on
That’s the thought loop of thinking about something over and over and over and over. The fancy name for this is rumination or excessive worrying. Sometimes, this is an underlying issue for burnout because your mind is in an anxious, motivated state. That is to say that you are super energetic and motivated, but not in the usual way you would. Not in a sustainable or healthy way. In fact, your energy levels are excessive and in total overdrive, all driven from this place of apathy or anxiety rather than groundedness.
For example, maybe you’ve got an assignment or project at work to take care of, and it is a high pressure environment made worse by a lack of support from family, friends, colleagues all around in all areas of your life. As a result, you are constantly unable to let go of mistakes you might have made. You’re thinking about them over and over again, or you’re thinking about things you need to get done and it’s all affecting you in a negative way and so you’re not able to move on, you’re ruminating on these things over and over and over.
Sign #3: Having low energy
A third clear sign is a general feeling of having low physical energy and basically feeling tired all the time, despite maybe even being active. Maybe you are still exercising and doing your regular activities for health and fitness but you are not getting the same level of energy from these things as you usually would. You still feel chronically fatigued and tired despite doing those things. You might even find that you’re procrastinating on activities more than you normally would, and it’s just taking longer and longer. Maybe you are wondering what is the difference between stress and burnout? They are not the same but sometimes we think they are the same. Stress is basically about things being too much. There are too many demands, too many pressures placed on you physically, mentally, emotionally.
On the other hand, burnout is this feeling of you not being enough, of feeling drained and devoid of emotion where you are at a place of apathy and indifference because your tank is empty. Stress is feeling like you are drowning in responsibilities, but you still feel that you can complete them and then you’ll be ok. On the other hand, burnout is feeling dried up and that you have nothing left to give. It is important to note that burnout isn’t necessarily a medical diagnosis. Some experts think that other conditions such as depression are actually behind burnout and researchers point out that individual factors like personality traits, family life, influence who experiences burnouts in their lifetime.
Sign #4: Irritability and Lack of Patience
Naturally, if you’re feeling empty and driven to burnout like I described in the previous sign, you may also be noticing a sudden change in your moods. One of those is an increase in irritability, things that wouldn’t normally irk or annoy you, start annoying you and as a result, you start seeing your mood change quickly and easily at just the slightest reaction. Just the slightest trigger is enough to set off your internal or external feelings of annoyance and irritability. Now, if this is you, the first thing I want you to do is simply notice with a sense of curiosity. We are often tempted to ask ourselves, why am I doing this? Why am I like this? Why won’t this change? Why am I here? And this can be quite judgmental and even work to make you feel worse. So, I want you to replace those questions asking ‘Why’ with the questions asking ‘What’. What’s happening here? What do you feel happened in your body when that mood shift occurs? What is the cause? What could the cause be? What would you like to happen instead? What would you like to happen instead? And what could you do about it?
These questions and changing the why to a what consistently will relieve the self induced pressure that you may be feeling and also help you dilute the power of these supercharged fluctuating emotions. In addition, breathing exercises like box breathing for even just five minutes a day are noticeably proven to help relieve the pressure and reground your energy. So, if you are looking for something to help you in both the short and long term, that’s definitely a good practice that I would recommend.
Sign #5: Change in your sleep habits
The thing about burnout is that it’s effect is long term. Apart from losing motivation and feeling this sense of disconnectedness more than you might normally see. You also see symptoms in your physical health, and the first and foremost is an irregular sleeping schedule, which can both be a cause and a symptom acting in this vicious loop, where a lack of sleep makes you feel more burnout and those poor bedtime habits lead to more irregularity with your sleep in turn, making you feel more and more burnout. The key really is to establish and understand what’s your normal baseline. If for example, waking up in the middle of the night is normal for you, then that may not be a sign, but, if that isn’t normal for you and there’s been a change in your sleeping pattern. You could be sleeping more, you could be sleeping less, you could be sleeping more irregularly. That’s a clear sign. Matthew Walker, a well-known authority on sleep and the neuroscience behind why and how sleep works in humans, says that if you are waking up in the middle of the night, for example, and it’s taking you over 20 minutes to get back to sleep, and this is happening on a consistent basis, then that’s a good signal that that’s something you might want to look into. Sometimes the stress of piled up work, the wasted time, the feeling of paralysis can all take your sleep away at a time when you need it most and apart from this sign, there’s also other factors that you may not realize are caused by burnout, things like loss of appetite, headaches or nausea.
Sign #6: Burnout won’t go away
The feeling of burnout and the signs that come with it just won’t go away. Burnout isn’t something which goes away on its own, but actually it can worsen unless you address the underlying issues causing it. These could be acute or chronic meaning, they’ve appeared suddenly or they’ve been there for quite a while. If you ignore the signs of burnout, it could cause further harm to your physical and mental health in the future. You could also lose the ability and energy to effectively meet the demands of your job which could have a knock on effect to other areas of your life. Even though it is so prevalent in our modern society, burnout is still often misunderstood and worse than that stigmatized. Many signs and symptoms of burnout and even the pre-burnout stages are similar to depression. So, if you notice new bad habits creeping into your life, for example, increased consumption of things like alcohol, social media, sugary and processed foods just to help you get through the day, then that is a definite red flag and a sign of not just burnout, but perhaps something deeper. Feelings of tiredness, for example, that won’t go away no matter what you try and even by 10 am in the morning, you’re counting down the hours until you can go back to bed, that’s another red flag.
In these situations, it’s highly highly recommended to get medical support from a licensed professional who has been trained to help you move back to a healthy level of being.
The bottom line is that we all need a healthy level of challenge and stress in our lives to help us grow and move forward. It can keep us motivated, driven to do the things that are meaningful to us. But when we are continually exposed to stress, anxiety and pressure and we are not able to let go of that for various reasons, that is when it turns to burnout.
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Spoken By : Keshav Bhatt
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