In a world that encourages maximizing your potential and going beyond your daily 9 to 5, the pressure to keep achieving can often be overwhelming. But how much is too much? Over time, this approach to life can seriously affect your mental health and lead to burnout.
What is a burnout?
It is a state of chronic stress that high-achievers can often experience due to long working hours, taking on heavy workloads and the massive pressure to excel. Burnouts can cause physical and emotional exhaustion, pessimism, detachment from social life, irritability and a constant feeling of “not doing enough.”
5 common signs of a burnout
Burnouts creep up on you slowly, which can make them hard to identify. Nevertheless, there a few physiological and emotional signs look out for:
- Chronic fatigue and insomnia: This includes a constant feeling of lethargy and tiredness. However, as tired as you feel, you find it harder to go to sleep at bedtime. While it begins with a slight lack of energy, over time you feel physically and emotionally drained.
- Irregularity in appetite: What begins with skipping a few meals here and there, in the burnout phase you can eventually lose interest in eating along with a significant amount of weight loss.
- Anxiety and depression: This is one of the most dangerous signs of experiencing a burnout. You begin with being constantly worried or tensed about your day ahead. Gradually, this may lead to a constant sadness and hopelessness.
- Lack of enthusiasm and detachment: From not wanting to go to work, to taking up new projects or even meeting new people, burnouts can lead to a slow removal of self from society.
- Irritability and temper: Along with anxiety and tension, you will often experience moments of angry outbursts and serious arguments for inconsequent things.
5 tips to prevent and work on a burnout
- Act on the warning signs: Whether its insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite or any of the other warning signs mentioned above. Be conscious of what’s happening to your mind and body, and seek professional help with a counselor or even your general physician at the outset.
- Prioritize your life: Prioritizing begins with taking a good look at your 24-hour schedule and setting time for the most important things first. Begin with sleep and exercise, set no more than 8-10 hours for work, and also try and include an hour or so every day for self-care habits like reading, meditation or yoga for example.
- Set boundaries: Work or otherwise, carefully analyze the time and effort it will take from you before you commit to everything. It may be uncomfortable to say ‘no’ to people, especially your supervisors and close friends, but once you set boundaries, others will begin respecting it too.
- Seek joy and practice gratitude: Having fun doing what you’re doing is more important than you may think. It’s vital to be excited about your life and enjoy what you do to find meaning and purpose. Eliminate activities that drain your energy as much as you can and also focus on being thankful for the things you have.
- Take breaks: Whether it’s a week’s worth of vacation, or a 5-minute break every hour – taking breaks is what keeps you going. Even machines need some downtime to rest and refuel. So, why shouldn’t you?