Five major signs of burnout

Five major signs of burnout

Burnout is a state of continual stress that causes extreme mental, emotional and physical fatigue. Feeling exhausted, anxious and isolated are some of the key signs of burnout.

Situations that continuously cause stress can all lead to burnout. This includes working or studying too much, and socializing too often – often connected to drinking too much or substance abuse.

It can also develop in someone who is constantly caring for someone who’s ill or dependent in some way. As well as someone who is physically ill this can include looking after someone who has mental health problems, such as depression or alcoholism.

Although fatigue is a part of it, burnout is much worse and can leave people feeling utterly numb, empty and like a shell of their former self. It can make normal living seem impossible.

“Burnout” as a term was originally used by psychologist Dr Herbert Freudenberger in his book “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement”, published in 1974. He defined burnout as: “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

A study published in December 2020 of more than 1,000 American adults revealed 76 percent of them felt they were experiencing burnout. This figure might be higher than usual due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – but even so, in today’s busy world it is likely to be a tragically high figure.

What are the key signs of burnout?

Key signs of burnout

Although many people feel burnout, it can be difficult to spot. Here are five key signs of burnout:

Chronic exhaustion

When someone is burned out, they will feel exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. It will be as if they are drained of all their vitality and energy – so that they feel like falling asleep most of the time.

This negatively affects daily tasks at home, college or work. It means that it can seem virtually impossible to concentrate and stay focussed. This all results in a lack of productivity, creativity and poor performance at work as well as at home that leads to low self-esteem issues.

Forgetfulness is another sign. It can all become a vicious cycle, seemingly with no way out.

Negative mental health

Someone who is suffering from burnout will continually feel overwhelmed with everything. Even previously simple tasks such as shopping or hobbies that were enjoyed will feel impossible. Burnout is closely connected to excessive stress, anxiety and depression.

Depression often begins with a mild sense of disappointment. If left, this can grow until someone finds themselves in an extremely dark place.

Irritability and anger

Depression turned inward can show itself as anger. Anger and irritability are two other symptoms of burnout that are often seen.

Someone struggling with burnout can direct their irritability and anger at anyone around them – including colleagues, partners, friends and even children. Clearly it is not a good place to be and can have a hugely negative impact on relationships, even leading to such as a relationship break-up, job loss or lost business opportunity.

Tasks and duties that previously seemed easy enough can lead to intense irritability and anger. This could be such as taking the children to school or taking part in a regular work meeting.

A consequence of this is that someone who is burned out might do all they can to stop being around other people. This can lead to isolation and a feeling of alienation – both of which are extremely unhealthy states of being.

Poor Physical Health

Anyone who is burned out will have a poor immune system. Consequently they are much more likely to have more illnesses and suffer worse from them than if their immune system was strong . They will also take longer to recover from them.

Added to this is that many of those suffering from burnout lose their appetite or eat unhealthily. Physical symptoms of burnout include: colds, flu, headaches, insomnia, palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness and stomach problems.

Impulse to flee

Due to a lack of any idea about what to do, how to continue or fix how they are feeling, a person suffering from burnout might start to fantasize about getting away from everything and everyone. Sometimes they might actually act on these thoughts.

This is useful if they go somewhere that has help on hand, such as a recovery center. But many people just get away  – abandoning their responsibilities without any discussion with anyone else – and they do not actually deal with what the cause is of their problems.

Others suffering from burnout will look for escape from how they are feeling but not in a geographical sense. This means they might turn to drink or drugs or a behavioral addiction in a bid to get away from their problems and how they feel.

It is not usually the case that burnout will go away on its own. If left untreated, it can lead to increasingly serious mental, emotional and physical problems.

But there are many successful methods for treating burnout. Getting away to somewhere peaceful that’s set up for total relaxation and with experienced professional therapists such as at Centres for Health and Healing can be the first thing to do.

Our expert team has helped people for decades with all types of mental health problems. Call us today to find out how we can help you or someone you know who’s struggling right now.

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