7 Signs You Could Be Suffering from Burnout
by Al Chester
January is notoriously the hardest month of the year, with finances being tight from Christmas, reduced daylight and holiday blues from the festive period. Add into the equation the current Coronavirus pandemic and it is no wonder that more than ever people’s mental health is fragile.
In 2020, 74% of people suffered severe stress, being so overwhelmed they were unable to cope – This is known as burnout. It can leave you exhausted, empty and unable to perform in day to day life.
But what does burnout look like and how can we spot the signs so that we can take action and get the help we need?
One of the easiest ways to spot burnout is when you find yourself feeling drained. This can manifest itself differently, relating to emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.
You may discover yourself sleeping more than usual and struggling to get out of bed. You may find yourself unable to control your emotions, bursting into tears sporadically, or not being able to feel emotion at all. Or burnout may present itself as mental exhaustion, preventing you to have little motivation to do anything or perform well at the things you do.
2. Physical Manifestation
Possibly one of the most important reasons for spotting burnout early is the physical impact it can have on your health. Untreated burnout can cause various complications.
The most common effect of short term burnout is depression, but long term burnout can lead to obesity, digestive issues and even heart disease.
3. Employment Estrangement
When suffering from burnout it is not unusual for people to become detached from their workplace and colleagues. It can lead to the feeling that what you are doing doesn’t matter, cause your performance to slip due to mental exhaustion and result in you distancing yourself from work colleagues.
You may find yourself becoming cynical about the work you do, and find yourself drawing yourself into alienation.
Along with feeling cynical about your job, burnout can cause you to see the world through a dark lense. Feeling out of control of all situations within your life, whilst also feeling like it doesn’t matter anyway.
You may find yourself viewing the aspects of your life which once made you happy, in a negative way and find it difficult to find enjoyment in anything you do.
5. Inability to Perform
As discussed, the mental exhaustion caused by burnout can make it difficult for you to perform at work. But you may find this spreading to other aspects of your life.
It can make tasks such as staying on top of the housework, doing the school run on time or even holding an adherent conversation a challenge.
6. Social Withdrawal
A combination of cynicism and mental exhaustion can cause you to not only alienate yourself from your work colleagues but also the other important people in your life.
You may find yourself avoiding social scenarios, not staying in touch with people and in some instances, even actively avoiding them.
7. Lack of Self Care
Last but not least is the effect burnout can have on self care. You may be unable to get yourself dressed in the morning because – well, what’s the point? You may find your levels of hygiene drop and exercise goes out of the window.
It can be difficult to find the motivation to create healthy food, or even go to do the food shopping. Self care is much more than simply looking nice each day, but it is often one of the first areas affected when entering burnout.
So what can we do about it?
In a nutshell, burnout is extreme stress which causes our mental, physical and emotional processes to shut down to a state of emptiness and negativity. But what can we do to fix it?
The good news is, whether burnout is caused by your job role or your home life, there is help out there.
As mentioned at the beginning, focus on mental health has become even more prominent over the past year, with so many additional challenges being introduced due to the Coronavirus. But with this, there has also been an increase in resources to help.
Many workplaces now have in house a representative who has undergone mental health first aid training to help employees through difficult times. This may be by providing ongoing support or offering a leave of absence to help you recuperate.
Workplaces are required to be mindful of your mental health and therefore, should be willing to offer you support when required.
If you do not feel comfortable going to speak with your employer about your suffering, there are a number of other institutions you can turn to. These include the NHS and mental health charities such as, Mind.
Last of all, you should speak to those you love about what it is you are going through. This will help them understand why you are withdrawing from them and help to maintain the relationships upon your recovery.
Burnout is not uncommon, and a huge percentage of the population experience it every year – But the important thing is, not to suffer in silence.
About the Author
Al Chester is the founder of Great Minds at Work. Al has worked both nationally and internationally to help businesses curate healthy workplaces and better manage their employee’s mental health.