Burnout is what happens when ongoing or chronic stress leads to detachment, exhaustion, and an inability to function. While anyone can experience burnout, it often tends to happen to high achievers and workaholics – people who push themselves hard in life.
Signs of burnout
While we all get stressed at times, there are signs that it might be getting to critical levels. These include:
- Chronic insomnia – occasional insomnia can happen to anybody, but when it is ongoing, it can be a danger signal.
- Constant exhaustion – high stress combined with lack of sleep can really push you over the edge to exhaustion.
- Poor memory and concentration – stress has been shown to reduce cognitive function. If you are experiencing a decline in memory and brain function, it may indicate your stress is at critical levels.
- Physical illness – an over-stressed system can lead to weakened immunity and recurring or ongoing illnesses.
- Loss of enjoyment and interest – particularly in activities you used to enjoy.
- An increase in negative emotions – such as apathy, cynicism, anger, frustration and pessimism.
- Preoccupation with work or your own problems.
What to do about burnout
Firstly, you may need to seek help if you’ve reached peak stress levels, rather than going it alone. A professional therapist can help you with techniques to reduce stress and develop a program to suit your situation and personality.
Effective stress management strategies include:
- Creating a life outside work. Burnout often comes from having a high-pressured job or work environment. If this is the case, it’s important to develop other enjoyable activities away from work.
- Setting boundaries. This may include switching off phone and email notifications, keeping your phone out of the bedroom, and creating space for yourself away from the demands of others.
- Learning sleep techniques. Sleep is essential for wellbeing and recovery. If you’ve lost the art of sleep, you may need to develop new routines around getting to sleep.
- Lifestyle improvements. This includes healthy diet, regular exercise, and reducing reliance on substances such alcohol or tobacco.
- Tuning in to yourself. Often when we are over-stressed, we can lose sight of ourselves and what is happening to us. It’s important to learn how to pay attention to your body and its responses, and recognise when it’s time to pull back.
To learn more about stress, its impact on health, check out these health assessments to find out how this could directly be affecting you.