Remembering that we’re only human and can only do so much in twenty-four hours is often a far-out concept for many.
The above is true if you’re an overachiever or highly ambitious individual.
Emotional exhaustion and burnout are often the result of constant striving and working excessively long hours to achieve your goals.
People tend to do this all the time, but at what cost?
Physical and mental health consequences
The mind and body can only handle so much overwhelm and work overload for so long.
The constant pressure to perform can take a tremendous toll on the brain and body and can produce symptoms of burnout which may take a while to recognize.
Mind and body
For example, many people experience burnout symptoms but are too busy or overwhelmed to know what is happening.
Burnout is usually associated with work-related stress and pressure, but there are other causes of burnout, including:
- Personal relationships
- Academic pressure to achieve good grades
- The pressure to succeed in personal projects, i.e. writing a book or decorating your home
- Relationship issues that persist with no resolution
- Being a caregiver for a loved one
Constant exposure to high levels of stress without taking proper self-care measures will likely result in emotional exhaustion.
The above can leave you feeling physically and emotionally burned out.
Recognising the signs of burnout
Since burnout occurs over some time, it can be challenging to recognise the symptoms or that you even have a problem.
You may feel lethargic or less motivated than usual; it might also seem like nothing you do matters or makes a huge difference.
Signs of burnout
Common signs of burnout include:
- Apathy and profound lack of pride in your work
- Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
- Anger, frustration or irritability with work colleagues
- Losing sight of your goals and experiencing a diminished sense of self
- Problems maintaining relationships and sustaining a connection with others
- Insomnia, muscle tension and bodily aches and pains that have no apparent cause
Unfortunately, job burnout and other types of burnout are prevalent.
Studies suggest that between four-seven per cent of workers may experience burnout at some point.
Burnout in the healthcare profession
Moreover, those working in certain professions, such as doctors and healthcare staff, are more likely to experience burnout at higher rates.
For example, a 2020 study on physicians revealed that forty-two per cent of doctors reported feeling burned out.
Burnout can significantly impact physician performance and patient health outcomes.
Stress and burnout effects
Burnout can have a profoundly negative impact on a person’s overall life, such as:
- It prevents people from doing what they love – i.e. enjoying time with friends and family or pursuing their hobbies
- It affects their work performance in countless negative ways
- Puts people at higher risk of developing physical and mental health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, suicide and depression
How to prevent burnout
Research states that one of the best ways to prevent burnout is to find out the source of your condition.
Understanding what causes burnout may help you make the necessary changes to your life by exploring any contributory factors, thus allowing you to engage in the process of elimination.
Stop taking on too much at once
Often, people try to take too much on at once, which can create the perfect platform for burnout to fester.
For example, if you’re a self-employed parent working on multiple projects.
Indeed, running a household while trying to maintain positive relationships with friends and family can seem impossible.
All the various components involved in doing too much at once can become unmanageable and be overwhelming, especially if you don’t reach out to others for help and support.
Reach out to people you can trust
Mental health experts say that when people are experiencing burnout, they must maintain a connection to those closest to them to avoid further burnout implications.
Reaching out to friends and family may make you feel less alone.
Your loved ones’ may even suggest ways to alleviate your stress and come up with any possible solutions.
Recovering from burnout
Recovering from burnout may seem far-reaching to those experiencing the profound effects of exhaustion and stress.
However, maintaining a connection to those around you will help alleviate some stress and may even give you some valuable insight.
For example, your friends or family members may have also experienced burnout.
Essentially, utilising the resources around you can make you feel less overwhelmed and may give you back some much-needed energy.
Look at your options objectively.
Various factors contribute to burnout. Therefore you must look at your life (and options) objectively.
For example, employees working around the clock may find it helpful to speak with their manager and discuss viable options to minimise workload.
If ongoing relationship problems cause burnout, it may be time for you and your partner to consider couples counselling.
Engaging in this form of therapy may help you uncover the root cause of your conflict and identify ways to move forward.
In some cases, a person may need to decide whether a job or relationship can be salvaged or not.
The above may seem impossible, but you may find an entirely new path by exploring your options.
One of the significant reasons behind burnout is usually a lack of boundaries.
Often, those who experience burnout tend to be people-pleasers who find it almost impossible to say no to a request without feeling guilty.
Setting boundaries on the amount of time, energy and investment you give to others can help you manage your stress better and avoid further burnout.
You are not selfish for saying no or needing to take some time out for yourself.
Saying no to a request or invitation does not mean you are selfish or a bad person.
Being cautious and selective about the kinds of things you say yes to is a form of self-care and a way to protect your energy and mental health.
Having healthy boundaries can proactively prevent burnout, especially for those with people-pleasing tendencies.
When given a request or asked to do something, you may consider:
- Taking some time alone to decide whether it’s something you want to do
- Asking yourself if what you are getting asked to do brings you any value
- Taking the time to determine what will be required of you if you agree to a request or favour
- Pressing the pause button while you come to a decision
When you feel overwhelmed, practising self-compassion may seem impossible.
Many things are happening on a conscious and unconscious level, and the adverse feelings and emotions associated with burnout, such as failure, loss and guilt, can be challenging to unpack.
However, giving yourself the same love and support you give to others is a beautiful way to begin cultivating self-compassion, thus minimising the risk of burnout.
Ask yourself some valid questions.
Another helpful way to recover from burnout or avoid it altogether is to ask yourself some essential questions, such as:
- What would I say to a family member or friend in a similar situation?
- Is it feasible for me to take on all these projects at once?
- Can these tasks be delegated to someone else?
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup – and in doing so, it is neither realistic nor helpful in the long- run.
Besides the tips mentioned above, another way to recover from burnout is by speaking to a qualified therapist.
Addressing burnout is not always easy.
Such a condition can induce feelings of depression, anxiety and helplessness and can profoundly affect the quality of your relationships and overall life.
Speaking to a mental health professional
If you are experiencing any of the following – you must get in touch with a mental health professional for further advice and support:
- A persistent low mood or mood swings
- Having thoughts of self-harm or hurting others
- Experiencing feelings of despair and hopelessness
- Substance abuse to cope with complicated feelings
White River Manor can help.
At White River Manor, we specialise in all forms of burnout by combining intensive therapy, medical management, a thorough psychiatric assessment, and excellent healthy eating and exercise options.
We understand that recovery is a lifelong journey of avoiding triggers, maintaining positive emotional well-being, and building positive habits – and our friendly team of specialists are here for you every step of the way.
Get in touch to find out more.