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Signs you might be experiencing burnout

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Your mental wellbeing is the unique way that you handle your emotions, respond to stress, and is determined by your general outlook on life. Having a healthy sense of mental wellbeing allows us to experience enjoyment in life, promotes resilience in difficult situations, set and fulfil goals, as well as build and maintain relationships.

Stress, however, is a normal part of life. No matter how much we may wish for a stress-free life, stress is a natural human response that is necessary and ever present. In small amounts, stress (such as having a deadline) can improve mental wellbeing, by boosting productivity, alertness, and energy levels. However, when our experience of stress becomes prolonged or greater than our ability to cope with, it can be physically and mentally draining. Chronic stress can have overwhelming consequences on your mind and body.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. If you are experiencing burnout, you may notice it is difficult to engage in activities you normally find meaningful. You may no longer care about the things that are important to you or experience an increasing sense of hopelessness.

Signs and symptoms of burnout may include:

Physical symptoms

  • Headaches

  • Stomachaches/intestinal issues

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent illness

  • Changes in appetite/sleep

Emotional symptoms

  • Helplessness

  • Cynicism

  • Sense of failure or self-doubt

  • Decreased satisfaction

  • Feeling detached or alone in the world

  • Loss of motivation

Behavioural signs

  • Reduced performance in everyday tasks

  • Withdrawal or isolation

  • Procrastination

  • Outbursts

  • Using substances to cope

Causes of Burnout

Burnout is not caused solely by stressful work environments or too many responsibilities. It can be experienced by anyone with prolonged levels of chronic stress and pressure causing overwhelm as work or home demands.

Factors that contribute to burnout include:

Work-related causes

  • Having little or no control over your work

  • Lack of recognition

  • Overly demanding job expectations

  • Monotonous or unchallenging work

  • Chaotic or high-pressure environment

Lifestyle causes

  • Working too much, without socialising or relaxing

  • Lack of close, supportive relationships

  • Too many responsibilities, without enough help

  • Not enough sleep

Personality traits

  • Perfectionistic tendencies

  • Pessimistic view of yourself and the world

  • Need to be in control

  • High achieving in nature

Regaining balance in your life

If you recognize some of these warning signs starting to creep into your life or if they're already present, it's important to take action.

  • Turn to other people for support: friends, colleagues, or family

  • Reframe the way you look at work or your home life by finding value, meaning and balance

  • Reevaluate your priorities by taking time off or regular breaks during the day

  • Nourishing your creativity by doing something interesting

  • Make physical activity a priority to boost your mood and energy

  • Support your body with a healthy diet and quality sleep

Taking a few moments each day to nurture your mental wellbeing will help you be happier and more resilient.

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