We all experience days when we are exhausted, stressed out, and lacking in energy, but if you experience these feelings frequently, you may be at risk of burnout.
In order to prevent burnout from having more severe health effects, it’s critical to recognise its mental and physical symptoms as soon as possible.
What is burnout?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 in 4 adults will experience burnout at some point. In its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the WHO recently added burnout, which it defines as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Lack of energy and exhaustion, a sense of detachment, a bad attitude towards one’s job, and decreased work performance are its three main symptom areas.
What are the early signs of burnout?
This type of chronic fatigue is not relieved by rest, leaving you feeling physically exhausted as well as mentally and emotionally spent most of the time. You lack energy and frequently experience feelings of overwhelm. According to research, there are few opportunities to rest, recover, and regain balance when there is a work overload.
2. A decline in motivation at work
You become increasingly pessimistic, cynical, and resentful about work as a result of the stress and frustration. You lose interest in everything and begin to emotionally distance yourself. Every day you have a sense of dread about going to work. Studies have shown that people are more prone to burnout symptoms because they feel undervalued when they lack control, recognition, or reward (financial, institutional, or social).
3. Decreased output at work
You find it challenging to focus, and you work less effectively. You’re having trouble completing your work assignments or are submitting them late, which you never were before. You have memory loss. Some of the typical indications of burnout include these. It is more difficult to manage new stressors the more stressed you are. The medial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain connected to executive function, is also impacted by stress, making it one of the physical signs of burnout that should be avoided.
4. Anxiety and worry
Particularly if it has to do with how well you perform at work, you become anxious and worried. When you get home and engage in enjoyable activities, you might feel better, but as soon as you start working again, the anxiety returns. Burnout has been linked in studies to the emergence of mood disorders, depressive symptoms, and anxiety.
5. Sleep issues
Sleep is being hampered by stress. You might have insomnia if you have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up too early and then find it difficult to fall back asleep.
6. Signs of physical exhaustion
Physical signs of chronic stress can include tension headaches, migraines, back pain, skin conditions, and general aches and pains. Burnout is a contributory factor for physical symptoms like headache, backache, respiratory, and gastrointestinal problems, according to a review of the scientific literature on the topic.
7. Angry and moody behaviour
Your mood may be worse than usual. This is due to the fact that burnout sufferers have larger amygdalas, the area of the brain connected to fear and aggression. The amygdala and regions of the brain associated with emotional distress share a number of strong connections.
Depression versus Burnout
Some mental health issues, like depression, and burnout have similar symptoms. Other signs of depression include a loss of interest in things, a sense of helplessness, cognitive and physical symptoms, and suicidal thoughts. What distinguishes burnout from depression?
Depression causes people to feel and think poorly about all facets of life, not just their jobs. A mental health professional can assist you if this is how you are feeling. Because those who are burnt out may be more susceptible to developing depression, getting help is crucial.
Should you get support for burnout?
The simple answer is yes.
Low lying chronic stress that leads to an HPA axis dysfunction (commonly referred to as adrenal fatigue) that results in burnout, can if left result in development of chronic disease.
To manage your stress, it can be beneficial to develop precise strategies. Self-care techniques like maintaining a healthy diet, exercising frequently, and sleeping well may help mitigate some of the negative effects of a stressful job. Getting support around how to manage your stress, your lifestyle, and keep you in optimal health so that stress and burnout doesn’t impact your health is vitally important, especially if you are a high performer who doesn’t want to give up the chance to succeed.