Burnout can be difficult to describe to others. According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is defined as “physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”
Burnout Can Be Caused by More Than Your Work
Most people associate burnout with a stressful job. However, burnout can affect many aspects of your life, from being a parent to your relationship with your significant other or even being a caregiver for an elderly parent. Understanding the symptoms of burnout and what you can do about it can improve your mental health and quality of life.
Over the last few years, burnout has been developing more and more as work-life balance gets out of sync. This is because of the increase in remote work and technology that does not let us “turn off” and reset from our workday or slow down and manage our personal lives along with our work demands.
Signs You May Be Experiencing Burnout
There are many physical, emotional and behavioral signs that could mean you are experiencing burnout.
- Feeling tired all the time
- Frequent headaches
- Changes in appetite or sleep habits
- A sense of failure and self-doubt
- Detachment and feeling alone
- Feeling trapped or defeated
- Loss of motivation
- Decrease of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
- Isolating from others
- Procrastinating to get things done
- Taking frustrations out on others
- Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early
Although many of these symptoms may line up with depression, causes of depression tend to be broader whereas burnout symptoms can be pinpointed to specific reasons or triggers in a person’s life.
Burnout Happens When Work-Life Balance Is Out of Sync
This may be due to:
- Working too much without enough time to socialize or relax
- Lack of close, supportive relationships and not reaching out to others for help
- Not getting enough rest to recharge
- Taking on too many responsibilities at work and home
Ways You Can Manage Burnout
Here are ways you can deal with burnout and perhaps prevent it in the future.
Recognize the Warning Signs
If you are feeling that there are no boundaries between your personal and work life or if you sense that you have been going 100 miles per hour and it would be impossible to slow down to even 85 miles per hour, this might be a sign that you are depleting your physical and emotional reserves and need to reach out for some support.
Reach Out for Support
Focusing on day-to-day activities might give you clues on what you need to work on to make substantial changes in your life. Sometimes talking to a friend about how you are feeling can really improve your outlook. There are other times when it is important to reach out for professional help from a therapist. The nice thing about therapy is that you have a safe place to talk with someone who is not a family member, friend or coworker.
Improve Your Self-Care
One of the best starting points is building personal check-ins into your schedule. Taking a step away from the computer or whatever your source of stress is and asking yourself daily, “How am I doing emotionally? How am I doing physically?” is a perfect first step.
Adding some physical exercise into your routine can definitely improve your outlook. “Regular exercise can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression” according to the American Psychological Association. Exercise is also an essential part of a wellness journey. There are many ways to be physically active—from walking your dog to walking with a work friend at lunch to release some excess stress.
Establishing a healthy daily routine for sleep, diet, movement and non-work time is crucial for your well-being. It is critical to tell yourself, “I have worked hard today, now I need to stop, change gears and attend to the social and personal aspects of my life. I need to do things that are fun and relaxing.”
We’re Here for You
If you think you might be experiencing burnout or would like to explore talking to a therapist about symptoms you are having, please reach out to Bryan Counseling Center at 402-481-5991. You can also take a free mental health screening on our website.
Stacy Waldron, PhD
Dr. Stacy Waldron provides treatment for individuals of all ages across the lifespan and specializes with adolescents and adults. She offers individual and family therapy to help clients with stress , anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions and chronic pain. This includes helping individuals with stress management, assertiveness training, communication and problem solving skills as well as relaxation training. She also provides psychological assessments that include bariatric surgery evaluations, spine surgery, and spinal cord stimulator evaluations.
Waldron earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She serves on the Board of Psychology for the State of Nebraska, the Board of Directors for the Midwest Pain Society, and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.