If you’ve been feeling overly stressed lately, you could be suffering from burnout. Work burnout isn’t just a joke about a particularly long day—it’s a serious issue. Feelings of anxiety, physical exhaustion, and depression are just a few of the side effects of working too hard for too long. It’s important to know how to recognize the symptoms of burnout—and how to address them when they arrive.
The Curse of the High Achiever
Burnout occurs when someone is under constant stress over an extended period. Perfectionists and high achievers often experience this problem, but it can affect anyone. Working every day and failing to take full advantage of vacation and sick days is a leading cause of burnout. Americans specifically are taking less time off from work and even bringing work on vacations. This unhealthy level of commitment definitely contributes to burnout. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychology Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, “More than half of employed adults said they check work messages at least once a day over the weekend (53 percent), before or after work during the week (52 percent) and even when they are home sick (54 percent). More than 4 in 10 workers (44 percent) reported doing the same while on vacation.” With the ability to answer emails and check in on work with our smartphones, it’s becoming more and more difficult to separate ourselves from our jobs. However, there are distinct signs of burnout to look out for, and if these sound familiar, it might be time for a real break and some high-quality self care.
Work burnout can seriously and very adversely affect your body. Burnout can cause chronic fatigue and insomnia, which means you never feel fully rested or truly awake during the day. Your immune system can be compromised, leading to more frequent illness. Forgetfulness and loss of appetite are also very common symptoms of burnout.
Mental Health Concerns
In addition to physical problems, burnout also affects your mental health. Anxiety and depression are both extremely common symptoms of working too hard for too long. Cynicism, detachment from friends and family, anger, an overall loss of interest in life, and a lack of motivation are other serious signs of a potential bout of burnout. Don’t worry, though. There are way to handle and reverse burnout.
1. Commit to doing stuff at home.
When you’re in the throes of burnout, it’s almost impossible to be motivated to complete any tasks at home. You may look at the same pile of laundry or dirty dishes every evening but have no energy to do anything about it. While you may think it’s comforting to indulge in hours of television, your brain and body need you to do something other than binge-watch seasons of The Office. Make a list of chores or activities you genuinely rejoice in completing and make yourself accomplish at least one each night. Make time to read a book, do your laundry, or invite friends over for some low-key social interaction. Finding joy in experiences at home will start to bring you out of your funk.
2. Make time for yourself.
Self-care is incredibly important, especially when you’re combating burnout. Take a moment each day to do something nice for yourself—something that relaxes you. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day, it will be beneficial.
3. Figure out what’s causing the distress.
If feeling burned out is new for you, there’s probably a single identifiable aspect of your life that’s causing the problem. Did something change at work? Do you have new responsibilities? Has there been some kind of shift in your family life? Any of these things can create a sense of burnout. Try to think of ways to improve your work situation or communicate your feelings to your family to help minimize stress or at least get it off your chest. You can also make a plan to fix these problems and work on each thing one step at a time. And don’t despair. There is life after burnout, but sometimes you have to slow down to get there.