Burnout is more than just feeling tired at the end of a long workday. On the contrary, burnout is a true anxiety disorder—one that can result in prolonged physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of ineffectiveness and detachment from day-to-day interests or responsibilities.
Recovering from burnout usually involves reducing your workload, eliminating stressors from your life, and re-evaluating work and personal life responsibilities.
In many cases, burnout is a symptom of occupational stress or overwork. In psychological terms, burnout is a state of intense fatigue—either physical, emotional or both. This fatigue comes from chronic stress and prolonged tension in your life.
If the responsibilities of your daily life are constantly leaving you feeling overwhelmed or overloaded, then you are at high risk for burnout.
The consistent tension that leads to burnout steadily drains your body of energy. That drop in energy will not only leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted but will also often result in feelings of anger, resentment, cynicism, apathy or pessimism. Individuals struggling with severe burnout often feel that they are powerless to change their situation and unable to accomplish anything of value. They feel like they have nothing to offer—a big reason that burnout is often linked to depression.
It is important to recognise the signs of burnout early so that you might start moving towards burnout rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many people do not immediately recognise or realise the severity of burnout. It is normal to have stressful days, or boring days, or days where you feel unrewarded or unappreciated at work. Because these feelings are common, most of us tend to think we can just work through them.
When a person experiences these feelings every day, though, that is not normal.
In all likelihood, that person has crossed the line from regular day-to-day stress into genuine burnout.
Recognising the Signs of Burnout
Before you can start working to burnout recovery, you need to know whether you are experiencing burnout in the first place. The ‘symptoms’ of burnout are varied and depend on the duration and severity of burnout—along with other lifestyle factors. These symptoms may include:
- Fatigue and physical exhaustion
- Physical issues, including heart palpitations, reduced immunity to illness, and chest discomforts
- Increased indecisiveness
- Erratic or incongruent emotions
- Decreased motivation, including decreased social interest
- Decreased desire for things previously enjoyed, including food, sex, or entertainment
- Depressive symptoms, such as hopelessness, despair, or melancholy
- Anxiety, including anxiety attacks
- Increased usage of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication
- Increased addictive behaviours, such as compulsive gambling or disordered eating
- An apathetic or ‘do not care’ mindset and approach to activities
- Internal emptiness
- Feeling like you have no control over your own life.
If you are experiencing several of these symptoms at the same time, then you may be suffering from burnout. You should consult a health and wellness professional to get a proper diagnosis and learn steps for burnout rehabilitation.
Why Chronic Stress Causes Burnout
One of the questions that patients often ask is ‘Why does burnout happen?’ Especially for those of us who pride ourselves on being hard workers; it can be something of a shock to discover that we can only push our bodies and minds so far.
The core cause of burnout is chronic stress. There are many elements of the human experience that produce stress. Strife in your personal life, money troubles, issues at work, grief or trauma and emotional distress are all factors that create stress in our lives. A certain level of stress can be healthy and beneficial, pushing us to confront and overcome challenges. Too much stress, though, can be overwhelming.
Too much stress over a prolonged period, meanwhile, causes the kind of tension that leads to burnout.
How much stress is too much stress? It depends on the person. Everyone responds to stress differently. A situation that might be overwhelming for one person might be no big deal for another. How a person processes stress can indicate how much tension they are carrying—and how close they might be to burning out.
Burnout is most common in the workplace, simply because work is a common source of stress. In fact, so many burnout cases are caused by workplace issues that the condition is sometimes called ‘occupational burnout.’ In reality, though, burnout can happen to anyone, at any time and in any situation. When a person reaches the point where they feel they can no longer function at their usual capacity, that is burnout.
Start Your Burnout Rehabilitation at The Banyans Health and Wellness
Do you feel like you or someone you know is experiencing burnout? If so, please contact The Banyans Health and Wellness Centre. We are a medically assisted rehabilitation residence in Australia. By helping patients de-stress and restore their health and wellness balance, we can assist them in recovering from burnout. Achieving restoration after burnout (as well as altering your lifestyle to prevent burnout in the future) are some of the things we will help you accomplish at The Banyans.
If you or someone you know needs help with a drug or alcohol addiction, or if you’re interested in our treatment programs for depression, call our friendly team for a confidential discussion on +61 1300 226 926. When you’re ready to begin your road to recovery, we’ll be here to listen 24 hours a day.
Bourg Carter, S. (2018). The Tell Tale Signs of Burn Out… Do You Have Them?. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them [Accessed 14 Jan. 2018].
Bourg Carter, S. (2018). Overcoming Burnout. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201104/overcoming-burnout [Accessed 14 Jan. 2018].