Burnout is unfortunately on the rise, and it’s incredibly indiscriminate. No matter what industry you work in or what your role is, you can suffer from it. On top of that, it can be caused by things other than work. Essentially, whenever you take too much on, fail to rest adequately, or don’t take care of yourself enough, you may fall prey to this uncomfortable, even debilitating feeling.
In this post, we’ll talk about eight warning signs of burnout and provide some advice on how to handle it.
Remember: burnout does not make you weak, nor does it make you inefficient. It can happen to anyone, and you are not lesser than for feeling this way. The important thing is to recognise the symptoms on time and work on treating them.
If you’re feeling tired even after a good night’s sleep, chances are you are burning out. Your body doesn’t have enough time to recover from all the stress it’s exposed to every day.
2. Lack of Motivation
Burnout will often make you feel completely unmotivated. You won’t really feel like doing anything – even the things you love doing.
If you’re just unmotivated at work but very motivated in other areas of your life, it may not be burnout yet. But if you notice it’s all-encompassing, burnout is the likely culprit.
3. Inability to Focus
Burnout significantly limits your ability to focus. You might find your thoughts starting to wander when you sit down to do some work, or you might catch yourself doing something you don’t remember starting to do. You may also have a harder time tackling tasks that were previously easy or at least not as difficult.
4. Subpar Performance
We all fail to do our best sometimes, and it can have nothing to do with burnout. However, if you notice your performance is starting to seriously slip – and more importantly, if you notice you don’t actually care – you are likely suffering from burnout.
5. Feeling Increasingly or Constantly Negative
Feeling frustrated or anxious about your job and work is perfectly normal. Everyone feels that way sometimes. However, if you notice you’re feeling negative all the time – even when you’re not at work and especially if you are in situations that wouldn’t normally cause you any stress – you may need to slow down.
Think about your thoughts for a minute. Are they predominantly negative or predominantly positive? What do you tend to focus on and think about during the day? If your answer swings more towards the negative – you know what to do.
6. Bickering and Arguing
When you’re burned out, your mood will be rather sour, and you won’t be pleasant company. Burnout can lead to a lot of unnecessary arguments and bickering, specifically about minor, unimportant details.
This is essentially a coping mechanism your mind uses to vent some of the pent up negativity. It lashes out when and where it can.
7. No Longer Taking Care of Yourself
- Eating unhealthy foods more than you used to?
- Sleeping less?
- Drinking more?
- Self-medicating to sleep or to stay awake?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you need to stop and look into the cause of these actions. Burnout can make you crave all sorts of short-term solutions that will make you feel better. It’s important not to give into them and look for a solution instead.
8. Your Health Is Beginning to Suffer
If you’re experiencing any physical symptoms caused by the stress you’re under, you are almost certainly suffering from burnout. You might be getting headaches more often, having issues with your digestion, breaking out in spots, feeling itchy, and the like.
When your body jumps in, takes over, and starts making you feel unwell, it’s trying to do the only thing it can do to make you slow down. If you don’t listen to it, it will take it up a notch and force you to stop altogether.
Is This You? Here’s What You Can Do
If you’ve recognised these signs in your own life, here are some of the things you can do to alleviate them and treat your burnout:
- Remove the cause. Try to identify what’s causing the most stress, and see if you can eliminate it (at least for a while). This may involve taking some time off work, giving up on some of your social activities, and getting less done around the house. You can always pick it up again – the important thing is to give yourself a bit of time off.
- Take a complete break. If you can, take a break from everything, even if it’s for a weekend. Don’t see anyone and don’t do anything; just sleep in, watch, read, or listen to something you love, and try not to think about anything other than the moment you are in.
- Sleep more. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body doesn’t have enough time to recover from anything. To treat your burnout, start by ordering a better mattress and schedule more sleep time.
- Talk to someone. Sometimes just having a conversation with someone you can trust can make you feel better. Set aside time for a one-on-one with a friend or family member and vent. Asking for advice from someone who’s been in a similar situation can also help.
- Focus on the good. Burnout can raise a whole lot of negative feelings, and sometimes the best thing you can do is focus on the positive in your life – even if it’s just the smell of your freshly washed laundry.
Burnout can turn into quite a monster if it’s not treated on time. Instead of telling yourself you’ll rest when you’re dead (as we all do sometimes), do something to make yourself feel better today. You’ll be more ready to fight another battle tomorrow.
Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.