Different Signs Of Burnout

This article is about the different signs of burnout and what are the actions you can take to deal with them.

Are you feeling exhausted and fatigued all the time? Do even simple tasks seem daunting to complete? Do you often find yourself unduly stressed out and lose your cool? These could be potential warning signs of burnout.

This is an era of incredible physical and emotional fatigue. Burnout is caused by severe mental, physical and emotional exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of excessive stress. Often burnout is related to workplace stress, but there could be personal or physical causes of burnout making you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope up with life’s incessant demands.

Since burnout is not considered a medical condition, it can be hard to describe. The APA Dictionary of Psychology describes it thus: “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”

  1. Fatigue -
    Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of burnout and impacts all aspects of your life. Some people feel like sleeping all the time or find difficulty in completing even simple tasks. The fallout of the pandemic has also added to these feelings of being overworked and tired all the time. Many are having a difficult time trying to balance their work, life and parenting responsibilities.
  2. Apathy/Work dissatisfaction -
    Almost all of us have days when we don’t want to get out of bed and go to work. However, when these thoughts persist and everything seems to be a drag, it might be a warning sign of something larger. When you feel that you can no longer enjoy what you are doing or the purpose of it all, it may be time to take stock of your feelings.
  3. Tension headaches -
    Chronic stress manifests physically. Tension headaches are a common sign of burnout. Psychological stress leads to stress and stomach issues such as pain, bloating and nausea.If you also feel unexplained stomach aches, palpitations or nausea, it is best to get these symptoms checked out.
  4. Poor immunity -
    Have you been catching more colds and feeling under the weather all too often? It could be caused by constant stress. Stress can set off the body’s immune system and inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation compromises the immune system and cause damage to body tissues, says an article published in Current Opinion in Psychology. When your immune system is compromised, you are at frequent risks of catching colds and other diseases.
  5. Weight gain -
    Reduced sleep, depression and your body’s biological response to the stress can also lead to weight gain. When you are burnt out, your appetite also fluctuates. The biological changes that are related to chronic stress also elevate the levels of cortisol and high cortisol levels are often linked to larger waist spans and increased chances of being obese. Weight gain of course brings with it an increased risk of other health issues such as stroke, heart disease, hypertension and arthritis according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are burnout and depression the same thing?

Since the symptoms of burnout can resemble the symptoms of serious medical conditions, such as mood disorders or depression, it can be challenging to detect. Luckily, depression is a diagnosable mental health condition even if burnout is not. Additionally, burnout seems to be a response to specific situation or stressors such as working excessively long hours or dealing with something going on in your life.

Types of burnout

Not all burnout symptoms are the same or have the same underlying causes.

  1. Overload burnout -
    Overload burnout happens when one works harder and harder, becoming obsessive in pursuit of success. Often individuals who experience this are willing to risk their personal life and health to feel validated and successful in their profession or job.
  2. Under-challenged burnout -
    At the other end of the spectrum are those who don’t feel fulfilled and appreciated in their job. Maybe their work is not stimulating enough or does not offer learning opportunities or room for growth. When individuals feel under-challenged they may distance themselves from their job, shirk work or become cynical.
  3. Neglect burnout -
    Neglect burnout is a result of feeling helpless in personal or professional situations. Negative incidents affect your confidence and you may think you are incompetent or unable to manage your responsibilities well. This type of burnout is closely associated with imposter syndrome, a psychological pattern where you doubt your competence, talent or accomplishments.

Final words

Burnout seldom happens immediately. It is a slow process that results from stressors within your job or personal life. The signs may be subtle at first but when they are unaddressed, they become worse leading to a breakdown, and other health issues.