People across the globe are reporting symptoms of burnout—here’s how to recognise it, and the steps you can take to combat it. By Dr. Jaya Sukul
At some point or another, everyone feels stressed or ‘burnt out’. To minimise this feeling of burnout, it’s critical for people to keep track of their mental health and well-being. Burnout, as per the APA, is defined as “physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward oneself and others.”
Here are five signs that you may be burnt out:
When you feel exhausted all the time, it’s a clear symptom of burnout. Emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion are all possibilities. It’s the feeling of being fully drained, as if you don’t have any energy to carry out various tasks.
- Lack of Motivation
You may be experiencing burnout if you no longer feel excited about anything, or if you no longer have that internal motivation for any work. It’s normal to have moments of creative block and aimlessness; but, when those feelings become a daily battle, you may be suffering from burnout.
- Frustration and/or Other Negative Emotions
While everyone has negative feelings from time to time, it’s crucial to recognise when they become atypical for you. A person experiencing burnout may come to believe that there is no way out of these emotions of futility and drudgery, that they are simply part of the job, and that things “will always” seem this way. This is, of course, a clear sign to seek professional help.
- Decreased Sleep
The other sign of burnout is an inability to sleep or disrupted sleep. A few nights here and there with disrupted sleep isn’t usually cause for concern, but when they start to pile up and influence your ability to function in your day-to-day life, it may pose a problem for your job and health.
- Interpersonal Issues at the Workplace or Home
This usually manifests itself in one of two ways: Either you have more disputes with other people, such as getting into disagreements, or you withdraw from speaking with your coworkers and family members. Even if you’re physically present, you may find yourself zoning out of interactions.
If any of these signs of burnout sound familiar, you should take the following steps:
- Practise self-compassion: Burnout may lead to emotions of failure, as well as a loss of purpose or direction in life. You may think you’re incapable of performing anything successfully or that you’ll never achieve your goals—but these feelings are temporary and can be overcome. Show yourself the same affection and encouragement that you would show your loved ones. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be ‘perfect,’ and that taking a break is alright.
- Practise self-care: Take out time for yourself regularly. Here are some suggestions of what you can do: Meditate, write, journal, connect with loved ones, go out, take up a hobby, listen to music, exercise, and others.
- Make a plan: Take your calendar out, make a plan, and try to stick to it. Begin with little measures towards the larger objective. It can also help to use this calendar to see what activities bring you joy, and what drain you out further.
- Seek help and support: Ask an old friend or a member of your family to listen or to simply hang out for a bit. While these steps may help ease symptoms temporarily, you still need to find the root cause behind your burnout—professional guidance can help provide you with those tools and identify what is triggering it.
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