Have you been feeling mentally exhausted and empty recently, struggling with motivation, or just past caring? You’re probably suffering from burnout. Burnout is a term that has become a strong staple in the narrative surrounding mental health, and that’s a good thing. Over time, burnout can have serious implications on your mental and physical health, as well as sapping the fun and excitement out of every element of your daily life.
What if we told you there was a way to start fixing it from the comfort of your own home? No one should have to struggle through life with burnout, it’s a lonely and exhausting way to live. The trick to tackling it is to know the signs of burnout before it has a chance to stake its claim on your life. With our help, you will be armed with all the tools needed to kick burnout’s butt efficiently at home.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
Knowing when burnout is creeping up on you is the most important factor in treating it yourself. Understanding and picking up on the signs is pivotal in catching it before it has a chance to escalate and derail everything from your work life to your social life.
The most well-known symptom of burnout is feeling tired or drained all the time. We don’t mean waking up a little groggy in the morning here and there, but the kind of tired a good night’s sleep can’t fix. Alongside feeling like you could legitimately sleep for a week, you might experience feelings of helplessness or defeat. One of the horrible attributes of burnout is feeling like there is no escape from it, it can make someone feel suffocated, overwhelmed, and quite alone.
If you find yourself starting to procrastinate over small or menial tasks, then this is a good indicator you might be facing a bout of burnout. Taking a long time to get things done or dealing with an intense lack of motivation or energy is one of the earliest precursors that burnout is afoot. Keep tabs on yourself and check in with how you’re feeling if you start to notice yourself procrastinating over something you wouldn’t have before.
After a while, self doubt and negative thinking can start to creep in and cloud your judgement. Burnout is notorious for making people feel incapable or worthless, so if you’ve noticed a little more negative chatter in the back of your mind recently this is another sign that you might be dealing with burnout. Depersonalisation is another symptom to be conscious of, in which you might start to feel numb, lose emotion or empathy for certain situations, and struggle to communicate effectively with other people.
Understanding what burnout looks like, particularly in the early stages, is really important to getting on top of it before it builds up and becomes too much to handle. A recent study showed that 68% of adults mistook the symptoms of burnout for symptoms of anxiety. Whilst they do have some overlapping symptoms, the two are inherently different so it’s important to know what it is and the signs to be on the lookout for.
Why treating burnout is important
Burnout isn’t something you can sweep under the rug in the hopes it will go away on its own- unfortunately, it won’t. Actually, burnout will only worsen if left unaddressed and can have some serious implications for your physical and mental health.
Just like any other form of fatigue, your body will react negatively to running on empty for a sustained period of time. Aside from feeling permanently exhausted, burnout can trigger headaches and migraines, dizziness, and muscle pain to name a few. Moreover, when you’re run down your immune system will also begin to suffer and you might find you become more susceptible to common illnesses like a cold or the flu, alongside stomach problems or appetite changes. In more extreme cases, burnout has been associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
The mental health consequences won’t come as shock to you. Burnout has been linked to both depression and anxiety, as well as poor decision-making and an inability to focus or concentrate on a task. Unlike stress, burnout is thought of as a syndrome. Our guess is that you would probably take notice of any other debilitating medical condition, so don’t start neglecting burnout. Whilst stress can be a contributing factor, burnout is not in fact ‘just stress’ but a genuine condition that countless people face each year. With serious implications for your health, burnout shouldn’t be overlooked and should be given the proper care and attention to treat it.
How to recover from burnout
Now that you know what to look for if you feel burnout bubbling under the surface, the next step is learning how to manage it. Burnout can infiltrate every aspect of your life, not just your professional one, and get so extreme that you might find yourself unable to work at all. For this reason, knowing how to combat feelings of burnout effectively is so important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
If you aren’t sure whether you’ve got burnout on the horizon, ask yourself a couple of questions first.
“Have I become more cynical or critical?”
“Do I wake up as tired as I went to bed?”
“Am I struggling to concentrate?”
“Do I feel satisfied by my achievements?”
“Am I willingly going to work and starting tasks?”
If the answer was yes to these questions, then you are likely suffering from burnout. Here are some of the best ways to treat burnout yourself at home.
- Get to the source.
Find out what the underlying trigger for burnout is. There’s no point treating the symptoms and not the cause because you’re simply chasing your tail, and the symptoms will simply come back. You might find there is more than one thing triggering burnout, or you’re trying to do too much on your own. Whatever it is, it’s important to work out which aspects of your life you need to alter to improve your health.
- Make some simple changes.
Have a look at your weekly schedule and identify any menial tasks that are taking up precious time and energy that you could drop. That time could be better spent resting, reflecting, or doing something else that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to say no to someone or change your mind. You must be your top priority, so don’t be too worried about letting other people down and putting yourself first. One day you will bend so much that you break, so it’s important to moderate your schedule and put your health at the top.
- Establish a good working relationship.
Working in an environment where they discuss mental health and manage burnout is a must. Somewhere that is open to conversations about mental well being and communicating when something isn’t feeling 100% can make such a difference. You shouldn’t be concerned to ask for some downtime, or to say when you’ve got too much on your plate. Ultimately it will benefit the company too, as they will retain healthier and more proactive employees, as well as turning out a higher standard of work.
- Talk to someone.
It can be so hard to find solutions to your burnout when you’re already feeling completely spent. Talking to someone you trust can make you feel less alone and supported. Hearing someone else’s perspective might offer up some new ideas or suggestions for dealing with burnout and tackling it head-on. These people will only want the best for you, and hearing some words of encouragement and affirmation might be exactly what you need to shift your mindset and start making some positive changes.
- Take control.
Burnout makes people feel powerless. The key to overcoming it, is to seize back the reins and take control. Take your life into your own hands and stop blaming extenuating circumstances for your situation. Some things will be out of your control but focus on what you can and take back autonomy for your life. Here are a few ideas you can start straight away:
- Prioritise tasks on order of importance and energy
- Delegate tasks to other people
- Leave work on time. Part of managing burnout is creating a healthy work-life balance, so make sure you’re focusing as much on recharging and resting as you do on work.
- Be firm. Tell people what you need and don’t shy away from saying no now and again.
- Set boundaries. Set limits on the time you spend helping others, or the times people can reach you for example. Be wary of saying yes to too many things, and ask yourself if you really have the time and energy.
- Practice self compassion.
As we mentioned before, burnout can play tricks on your mind and lead you to feelings of failure or a lack of self belief. These can be just as detrimental and prevent you from getting your life back on track. Think about what you would tell your friend or family member in this situation, you’d probably offer them kindness and empathy, so make sure you’re treating yourself the same way. Remind yourself it’s OK to need a bit of downtime, and make sure you’re giving yourself the same love and support you would anyone else.
Dealing with burnout doesn’t have to be an isolating and overwhelming experience. Although it might not feel like it now, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it doesn’t have to stay like this forever. With so much going on it can be tricky to know where to take a break, and the thought of letting people down can often be just as difficult. But if you’ve learnt anything, it should be that it’s absolutely fine to put yourself first- in fact, we’re advocating for it!
Morale wants to team up with YOU to help people in your network feel more positive and confident. Send out as many positive affirmations each day to people in your inner circle and remind them that they are capable and in control. Help them tackle feelings of burnout with a few simple words and let them know they are not alone. A little bit of support can make a massive difference for people looking to make some positive changes to banish burnout altogether. Download our app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store, and we can work together to help people handle their burnout.
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