Is burnout just another name for stress? How do you know if you are burned out? Unfortunately, many of us may not know exactly what burnout is — or how to recognize it. These questions are simply a few of the many that we may find ourselves Googling when we’re feeling overwhelmed, drained, or exhausted.
So, today, let’s take some time to address burnout, how it differs from stress, how to recognize it, and how to cope with it.
Stress vs. Burnout
Many people confuse burnout and stress — in fact, many people equate the two when they are essentially fundamental opposites. What do we mean by this? Well, stress is typically characterized by too much happening at once. Whether we have too many responsibilities, too much on our plate, or too little time to get everything done — this is what causes our stress.
Burnout, on the other hand, is characterized by the opposite — not enough. When we are burned out, we do not have enough energy or care to accomplish the things we need to.
In other words, stress is like pouring water into a glass that is already full, but burnout is like trying to pour a cup of water but realizing that you don’t even have a glass.
Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual process, but we may not always notice it if we don’t know what to look out for. Here are some of the physical, emotional, and behavioral signs of burnout that you should keep an eye out for — especially if you have been feeling overloaded and exhausted recently.
Some physical signs of burnout include:
- Frequent illness or a weakened immune system
- Change in sleeping or eating habits
- Increased headaches, muscle pain, or soreness
- Feeling tired most of the time, even with adequate rest
Some of the most common emotional signs of burnout are:
- Feeling helpless, defeated, or trapped
- Feeling alone in the world
- Losing motivation or an increasingly cynical outlook
- Less feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction
- Increased self-doubt and feelings of failure or inadequacy
Some behavioral symptoms to keep an eye out for include:
- Increased procrastination
- Reliance on drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy foods
- Shorter temper
- Arriving at work or school late, leaving early, or skipping commitments altogether
- Withdrawal from responsibilities
Tips for Managing Burnout
Maybe you’ve just noticed the initial signs of burnout. Maybe you’ve been burnt out for a while now, and you’re wondering when it’ll end. Unfortunately, trying to force your way through burnout is only going to make it worse. If you are burned out, you need to take a moment to change direction and overcome it.
Here are some tips to help you do this and get back to enjoying your life and the things you do.
The first step to overcoming burnout is to recognize it for what it is. How long have you been burnt out? Or, if you are not quite burnt out yet, how close are you to becoming burnt out?
Noting where you are on this scale is crucial because it can inform you about the best next steps for you. Not all of us respond to burnout in the same ways, and because of this, not all solutions will work for everyone. However, taking the time to recognize what is going on in your life is a critical first step in helping you to overcome these obstacles. So, before you search for any other solutions, take the time to check in with yourself and recognize that what you are going through is serious and requires active addressing to overcome.
Make Time for Yourself
While you’re checking in with yourself, take a minute to assess your current self-care routine and habits. Are you giving yourself enough time to unwind and enjoy your hobbies or interests? We get it. Life gets busy — sometimes suddenly and without warning. But a lot of the time, we get burnt out because we are not giving our bodies what they need on a daily basis.
Take time to look at your daily habits. Have you been eating healthy, nutritious meals and getting enough sleep each night? Have you been incorporating exercise and movement into your day? What have you been doing to nurture your mind and body spiritually or intellectually?
These are all crucial areas of our life that we tend to forget about when work or life gets busy. But, if you’re feeling drained or exhausted, these areas are the best place to start to get yourself back on track.
Think About Your Priorities
If you are feeling burnt out, chances are something in your life is simply not balanced. Maybe you are spending too much of your time and energy on your career, and you’ve left your hobbies and interests behind. Maybe you spend too much time with your friends and family and not enough time giving yourself the care and love that you deserve.
Take this time to consider what you truly value in life and find out how to make time for those things. Maybe this means picking up an old hobby that once brought you joy, or maybe it means simply carving out some time for yourself each day. No matter what it is, take this opportunity to organize your time and energy in a way that aligns with your priorities.
Once you’ve decided on your priorities, you may find yourself in need of some new boundaries in one or more areas of your life. Maybe you simply do not have the time or energy to take on more work for your job. Maybe you simply can’t commit to the time requirements of being a part of a club, committee, or another group right now.
Many of us feel uncomfortable saying “no,” even when we know that saying “yes” will only hurt us. Boundaries are a crucial part of any healthy relationship because they keep us from overextending and, well, burning out over time. Good boundaries help us make time and space in our lives for the things that we truly value, which can make all the difference in overcoming burnout.
Seek the Support You Need
Burnout makes it incredibly challenging to want to do anything. After all, everything you look at tends to look like a mountain of wasted time and energy. While we may not know exactly what is that final push that causes us to burn out, one thing that we do know is that social contact is always at the top of the “human problems” cheat sheet.
Seeking support from loved ones, friends, and even professional therapists can be an excellent way to break free from your burnout and discover ways to begin enjoying life and activities again. You can use this time to talk about what has been going on in your life or simply use these opportunities to engage with other people and allow yourself to find enjoyment in simply spending time with others.
If you are looking for someone to talk to about how you are feeling, but you do not feel comfortable bringing it up to friends or family, a therapist is an excellent option for you. In therapy, you can not only talk about your worries and experiences in a safe and non-judgmental space but you can also get tailored and specific recommendations for how you can overcome challenges in a safe and healthy way. So, if you are looking for someone to talk to about burnout in your life, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow.