Until the symptoms become too severe, most people do not even know that they experiencing a burnout. The latter is basically a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.
A case in point is the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post who collapsed from the effects of running her new business, which she had launched years earlier.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington said, “I hit my head on my desk, broke my cheek bone, and got four stitches on my right eye. I was very lucky I didn’t lose my eye.”
With such a scenario in mind, it is very important to know what would cause a person to have a burnout and take preventive measures. Most people assume that burnout is an emotional response that a person only experiences after spending many hours at work or to having a challenging job.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, it is a mistake to assume that burnout is an emotional response to just long hours or a challenging job.
The association says that mounting scientific evidence shows that burnout takes a profound physical toll that cascades well beyond our professional lives.
Using cutting-edge techniques, integrative research teams are demonstrating that burnout is not just a state of mind, but a condition that leaves its mark on the brain as well as the body.
Emerging research also reveals that burnout stifles healthy professional growth and that the chronic psychosocial stress that characterizes burnout not only impairs people’s personal and social functioning, it also can overwhelm their cognitive skills and neuroendocrine systems.
This eventually leads to distinctive changes in the anatomy and functioning of the brain.
At the professional level, burnout comes up when the demands surpass the person’s ability to cope with the stress. Workers in careers that involve taking care of other people are most likely to experience a burnout. They include teachers, nurses, social workers, and physicians.
This, however, does not mean that they are the only ones who get it as athletes, CEOs, writers, and accountants can get it as well.
Ultimately, jobs and careers that require too much of input from employees will cultivate feelings of negativity and hopelessness as they deal with rude customers, struggle to meet unrealistic deadlines, deal with rude customers, or cope with the emotional toll when they have to take care of other people.
With such grave consequences, it is important to know the symptoms of this condition so that you can take the appropriate steps to arrest it or recover from it.
Signs of physical and emotional burnout
Some of the symptoms that a person experiencing burnout is likely to encounter include having chronic fatigue which entails lack of energy and in the latter stages you may feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.
You may also experience insomnia and forgetfulness. Physical symptoms may begin to manifest as well and they include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches. You should have all of the above medically assessed and get the necessary help.
Since your body will be depleted, you will also experience a weakened immune system and you will hence be more vulnerable to infections such as colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.
You will also experience loss of appetite, anxiety, depression which manifests as sadness and hopelessness in the first stages while some people have suicidal thoughts in the last stages.
Burnout also causes people to be angry which presents as interpersonal tension and irritability in the initial stages while towards the end it can turn to serious arguments and angry outbursts. You should seek professional assistance if your anger causes you to be violent towards your co-workers and family members.
How to recover from a burnout
If you realize that you have bitten more than you can chew, you should take the following steps to recover from a burnout.
1. Get plenty of rest
Being too tired can contribute to you having a burnout. As soon as you realize that too weary from your job you should ensure that you have enough sleep every day. This can be seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
2. Delegate /Ask for help
Some people are perfectionists who do not trust other people to do a good job like them or present a better project. Others are too embarrassed to ask for help when it is too much for them. It is always good to delegate some duties because putting on a one-man show can be quite detrimental to your mental and physical health.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but of strength and there is certainly no harm in sharing the glory with other people from time to time.
3. It is ok to say “No”
It is quite ok to say no to co-workers who always want to take advantage of other people. When you have been given too much work you should know when to say no or request for an extension of the deadline. Do not agree to everything just to please everyone and suffer at the end of the day.
4. Speak up!
There are instances where bosses and coworkers treat people like doormats in the workplace and this can definitely lead to a burnout. If you are facing such a situation, you should learn to speak for yourself in a firm but polite manner. This will also earn you respect, in the end, no one respects doormats.
5. Leave your work in the office
It is increasingly becoming difficult to leave your work in the office with the advent of cell phones and laptops. If you take too much work at home you risk a burnout. Once you realize that work is beginning to take up your spare time you should find ways to finish it in the office.
There are exceptions where you may realize the need to get work done by a certain deadline. In such instances, you should set a time limit for the work at hand.
6. Contextualize Your Work
As aforementioned, it is inevitable that some careers will leave people with a burnout. If you have such a job, you should remember that there are some aspects of it that you really like. Ensure that you have allocated some time every day for the best parts of your job that make you feel fulfilled and that make you keep coming back every day.
If there are no aspects of the job that appeal to you at the moment, you should look at the bigger picture and how your contribution is important to the whole family.
7. Reward Yourself
When you manage to achieve set goals and milestones, you should remember to reward yourself for a job well done. Taking time to recognize your accomplishments and achievements will keep you motivated as you go to work every day as well.
8. Exercise your body
Exercising your body can be very instrumental for a person seeking to ward off burnout. Exercise can help to reduce stress as well and this can be as simple as taking a walk during your lunch break.
9. Eat Healthy
You should ensure that your energy levels stay consistent every day. You can do this by eating healthy foods that will nourish your body and keep you healthy. Avoid taking too much caffeine or sugary snacks to get more energy.
10. Go for a vacation
There are people who do not take vacations and prefer to work all 365 days of the year. A vacation can do wonders for your stress levels because you will get to enjoy a change of scenery, eat different foods and have a change of pace. Planning it in advance is advisable so that you can look forward to it.