We live in an extremely busy world, there’s no doubt about it. On occasion, typical stressors add up; stressors we would normally be able to handle with ease. They hit us all at once, causing mayhem in an otherwise productive and harmonious life. And that’s the opportune time for burnout to bust down the door and bring pandemonium along for the ride.
What is Burnout?
One word – Exhaustion. Burnout is the product of long-term stress. Being overworked physically manifests itself in muscle and bone issues but can also have other consequences like dehydration, drastic and dangerous drops in blood sugar, increased blood pressure and strain on vital organs.
Burnout can also be related to long-term exposure to mental and emotional stressors. When this happens, we often feel like we are no longer in control of our own lives no matter what we do. We feel hopeless and powerless, which then builds to being resentful of all the people and responsibilities relentlessly demanding so much of our time and energy.
Burnout is 100% preventable, but you must first be able to recognize the signs, and then do something about it.
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Causes of Burnout
In order to put your finger on the signs and prevent burnout from wreaking havoc in your life, consider some possible causes:
• High expectations of self, or imposed upon you by others
• Monotonous routine
• Unsatisfying work or home life
• Too many responsibilities
• No support system
• Perfectionistic personality
• Intense pressure from bosses or other authority figures
• All work and no play
• Lack of rewards or recognition for a job done well
If one or more of these sounds familiar, you might be experiencing burnout. Don’t leave any stone unturned if you feel burnout might be approaching. Left unchecked, it could cause an incredible upheaval in virtually every aspect of your life.
Signs of Imminent Burnout
If you feel like your get-up-and-go just got-up-and-left, this is a clear indicator that something needs to change. When your dream job becomes a drag and you dread even getting ready for work, burnout has probably already set in.
If your motivation gets hit your enthusiasm and pleasure are replaced with the feeling of just going through the motions because you have to and not because you want to.
When your brainpower gradually diminishes, the Rolodex in your head slows down to a crawl. The ability to concentrate and focus then follow suit and you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. We aren’t built to handle chronic stress to our cognitive thinking skills.
Your brain is equipped to handle an issue and then rest until the next issue arises, at which time it will stand at attention and quickly flip through the Rolodex until it comes up with a viable solution.
Neglect Personal Care
More often than not, personal hygiene is one of the first signs of burnout. We skip showers and personal grooming to save time or because we get too tired. Proper nutrition takes a backseat to fast food and just forget about hitting the gym!
When stress and overwhelm are chronically pulling you into their nasty clenches, self-medication seems like an appropriate response. It could be as simple and unhealthy as using energy drinks to get you through the day or as dangerous as using alcohol in excess to forget about the daily demands.
Even doctors hand out prescriptions for mood-altering medications on a regular basis as a coping mechanism instead of pushing for the source of the problem. Gambling and other addictions may start as harmless activities to keep your mind distracted, but they can too soon turn into demands rather than options.
One of the most obvious signs of burnout is the inability to regulate our emotions. Emotional outbursts, being easily angered, erratic behaviors, and bouts of anxiety and depression are par for the course.
You might find yourself experiencing road rage when encountering inconsiderate drivers or get incredibly impatient waiting in line for your turn at the coffee counter and behave rudely to the barista. Crying at the drop of a hat is another potential warning sign of looming burnout.
These are but a few of the many signs and symptoms you may be experiencing prior to or smack dab in the middle of a burnout crisis. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself as to how it got this far.
The key is to identify the signs and then work your way backward until you can pinpoint the cause. Only then can you begin to rectify the feelings of stress and overwhelm and force burnout to take a flying leap.
You deserve a healthy, happy life… and you are the only one who can make it happen!