Burnout is the world’s most common work-related condition. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that more than 50 percent of employees said they have experienced it at some point in their careers. The good news? Burnout is not inevitable. At times it mimics other mental disorders. In fact, you can learn how to recognize if you’re dealing with burnout and take steps to try to prevent it from ever happening again!
Burnout can be a complicated beast to identify, as it often sneaks up on us rather than hitting us all at once.
Burnout is a process that takes time and often sneaks up on you rather than hitting you all at once. You may not know it has happened until it’s too late, or perhaps not even then.
For example: If you’re working on your second novel and it’s not working out as well as the first one did (or ever will), this could be an early sign of burnout. Or maybe something like this happens when we’re trying to make our new business plan work: “I don’t know why I keep getting these ideas; they never seem viable.” We may think there are other things going wrong in our lives that cause us stress or anxiety—but they might just be symptoms of burnout!
The best way to identify burnout is a combination of paying attention to your body and your reaction to stress.
For example, if you’re feeling physically exhausted or emotionally drained, it may be time for a vacation. Or if you’ve started craving unhealthy foods like French fries or cake batter ice cream from the supermarket instead of healthy options like kale salad with avocado and lemon juice (which I did yesterday). If these things are happening more often than not—and don’t let me know about any other symptoms that might indicate burnout!—then there’s a chance that burnout could be affecting your life in some way.
Here are some common symptoms of burnout:
Feeling isolated. Burnout can lead to a sense of being alienated from the people around you, which makes it hard to communicate and collaborate with colleagues.
Taking on too much work, especially if it isn’t your passion or interest. When we feel like our job doesn’t fulfill us as individuals, we tend to go beyond what’s reasonable or sustainable—and this can lead us into trouble in terms of both health and productivity.
Changing sleep patterns or diet habits that aren’t working anymore (e.g., sleeping more than usual). These changes may indicate burnout symptoms are present; however, other factors could also be at play here (such as an illness). If these changes seem unusual for someone who has never experienced them before then there’s probably something else going on!
You may feel isolated because you are taking on too much, or because your work isn’t meaningful. Or maybe you’re not engaging with your family and friends as much as you would like.
Taking on too much
If you’re feeling burnt out, it’s important to be aware of how much you’re taking on. For example, if your boss asks for an extra project and you say yes because they’re your friend or mentor, that’s not necessarily a bad thing—it just means that there are more things in your life than can be handled at once.
It’s also important not to feel guilty about saying no when someone asks for help; this will only make the problem worse! Try saying something like “I’m sorry but I can’t do this today” or “I’d love to help but there are already too many projects on my plate” instead of being too apologetic about turning down requests from coworkers and friends (even though those people might have been good friends).
Change in diet or sleep patterns
A change in your diet and sleep patterns is one of the most common symptoms of burnout.
If you’re eating more or less than usual, it’s likely that you’re struggling with a lack of energy.
If your sleep schedule has been thrown off by excessive stress at work, try napping during the day if possible to help reset your body clock so that it can process nutrients at night when they’re most needed by the brain.*
Being cynical or negative about your work and personal life
Be aware of how you feel about your work and personal life, in general, as well as what is happening in each area at any given time (e.g., a project that’s going well).
Be aware of your own feelings.
Be aware of how you feel about others.
Be aware of how you feel about yourself.
A sense of ineffectiveness
This can be a hard feeling to identify because it’s not always obvious. But if you feel like you can’t accomplish anything or that your life is out of control, then burnout is likely to be present in your life. You might also experience a sense of being ineffective and not making progress as easily as usual—and then there’s the feeling that maybe this isn’t all worth it after all.
Burnout is more than just feeling bad—it’s actually a physical state related to stress and fatigue that makes us physically unwell by causing inflammation (the body’s natural response) on top of an emotional reaction from our brains (the mind).
Identifying burnout is the first step to tackling it. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, so it’s important to get help early on. The sooner you get help, the easier it will be for your body and mind to recover from stress.
If you feel like your work is getting out of control or that you’re not enjoying it as much as you used to, it might be time for a change. If none of these signs sound familiar to you and this article has helped clarify things, then congratulations! You might just be on fire with potential!
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