It’s easy to feel that you can – and should – take on everything these days. For many reasons, it’s important to recognise potential burnout if it begins, and nip it in the bud.
Keeping a close eye on yourself
It’s easy to feel that you can – and should – take on everything these days. Especially since we have so much technology to help keep us connected and to schedule every moment of our time. However, a big downside to this is the risk of feeling constantly stressed, when you can’t keep up or don’t manage to accomplish all that you set out to do. For many reasons, it’s important to recognise potential burnout if it begins, and nip it in the bud.
What are the physical and mental signs of burnout?
If you notice any of the following, they might have crept in due to overwork and ongoing stress, and could be contributing to burnout.
Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating – these are early signs of burnout.3
A constant feeling of fatigue, or lack of energy, which could be physical, mental or both.1,2,3
Sleep problems, which can begin by denying yourself a good 8 or so hours of sleep per night, and can turn into persistent insomnia (trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep).1,2,3
Physical pain and discomfort, such as having a racing/pounding heart, being short of breath, feeling faint, or suffering headaches.3
Becoming ill more often than usual – a result of your immune system being run down, which can lead to things like persistent coughs or colds, or digestive issues like a frequently upset stomach.1,2,3
Bad eating habits – this can mean that you either eat while doing other tasks (so you don’t take the time to enjoy your food) or that you’ve lost your appetite and started skipping meals.1,3
Feeling angry, edgy or anxious, or feeling permanently down, beyond mild sadness, could indicate burnout.1,3 It’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional if any of these feelings become severe or persistent.
What are the emotional signs of burnout?
Burnout can affect your mood in many ways, so be on the lookout for these symptoms of exhaustion.
Feeling cynical, disconnected from others and generally negative can be due to burnout. This means you might notice that:1,2,3
you don’t enjoy things the way you used to
you’ve developed the tendency to isolate yourself
you feel more pessimistic than previously.
Feeling that you’re unable to accomplish things and that you’re less productive than usual can be related to ongoing stress. This can leave you feeling hopeless, make you more easily irritated, and affect your personal and professional relationships.3
Ready, set, reboot!
Noticing the signs of burnout shouldn’t be a reason to get even more stressed. It’s better to think of these signs as not-so-subtle hints from your body and brain that you need to make some changes, and get yourself back into a natural balanced rhythm of work plus rest.4 The great news is that a few small changes each day – some that take as little as 5–15 minutes – are likely to be exactly what you need to get back to your normal self.4
Take a bio break whenever your body tells you to – use the facilities, and grab some water while you’re on your way back to your workspace.4
Have a healthy snack – give your body some nutritious energy by going for foods that are high in protein or fibre, and steering away from anything that’s high in sugar or caffeine.4
Move around – get up and say hello to a co-worker, or take a short walk outside. This gets your blood pumping and gives you more energy when you return to work.4
Be social – connect with people and make the interactions positive. It’s great to have a laugh, and it’s best to avoid gossiping and grumbling.4
See the light – get some natural light by stepping outdoors if you can, or spending some time by a window.4
Take deep breaths – a few minutes of deep breathing or meditation are perfect for giving your body and brain a break, boosting your energy, and clearing up any mind fog.4
Hopefully none of the signs of burnout are affecting you, but pay attention if they do creep in. Taking a break or a breather every hour or two is what your body naturally needs.4
If the symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.
Loder V. How to prevent burnout - 13 signs you're on the edge. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2015/01/30/how-to-prevent-burnout-13-signs-youre-on-the-edge/#6b902a714e3d Accessed August 2018.
Gerry LM. 10 signs you're burning out - and what to do about it. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it/#3d154357625b Accessed August 2018.
Bourg Carter S. The tell tale signs of burnout … do you have them? Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them Accessed August 2018.
Romm A. This hormone expert has found the antidote for burnout. Available at: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/is-this-the-cure-to-burnout Accessed August 2018.