If constant stress has left you completely fatigued and useless, you may be on the verge of burnout. Burnout is a condition characterized by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged and intense stress.
Continual exposure to stressful situations, like working long hours or caring for an ill family member, can lead to this stress condition.
Burnout depletes your energy and productivity, leaving you feeling hopeless and unhappy, and you may even come to believe that you have nothing else to contribute.
Burnout can manifest itself in a variety of physical, mental, and emotional health issues. If left unaddressed, burnout can make it difficult to function normally in daily life.
What is burnout?
Burnout was initially identified in research performed in the 1960s and 1970s. The first publications on the issue were primarily focused on human service professionals, such as probation officials and nurses.
Burnout is, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a term that should be reserved for events occurring in the workplace and should not be used to describe experiences in other areas of life.
Burnout is characterized as an individual’s inability to manage prolonged work-related stress.
According to the WHO, the following are the three primary signs of burnout:
- A feeling of exhaustion or a lack of energy
- An increased mental distance from one’s employment, or emotions of negativism or cynicism about one’s career
- A sense of inefficiency and diminished professional efficacy
While burnout is sometimes compared to an empty battery, the metaphor of a bank account may be more appropriate: an empty battery runs out of power, but with a bank account, you may frequently draw on your line of credit when necessary. In other words, just like with burnout, you’re going to surpass your limit and overdraw your account occasionally.
While doctors seldom label burnout a psychological disease, this does not suggest it isn’t a significant issue.
These are the most common indications of burnout:
- Physical symptoms: Physical symptoms such as stomach pains, headaches, and digestive difficulties can be caused by chronic stress.
- Work-related activity alienation: When you are burnt out, you may perceive your work as becoming increasingly annoying and demanding. You may become negative about the people you work with or your working environment. You may get emotionally detached from your work and become numb to it.
- Reduced performance: Burnout typically affects everyday work duties or home when your primary responsibility is to care for family members. When you are burnt out, you may have negative thoughts about these responsibilities and find it difficult to focus.
- Emotional exhaustion: Burnout may leave you feeling drained, exhausted, and unable to cope. You most likely lack the energy to complete tasks.
- Lack of motivation: If you’re not excited about things or don’t have the desire or motivation to work, you’re probably struggling with burnout. It may be a difficult task getting up and out of bed in the morning, and you may have to drag yourself to work every day.
- Anger: At first, anger may present as impatience and interpersonal stress. Later on, it might escalate into heated confrontations with others and aggressive outbursts.
- Anxiety: You may suffer mild feelings of edginess, stress, and concern early on, followed by worsened anxiety when you begin to feel burned out. Your anxiety may become so severe that it interferes with your personal life and impairs your capacity to be effective at work.
- Depression: In the early stages, you may experience moderate melancholy and a sense of hopelessness, leading to feelings of worthlessness and shame. However, when depression is at its worst, you may feel extremely dejected and trapped, believing that the world would be better without you. If your depression has progressed to this degree, you should seek professional treatment.
- Insomnia: You may have difficulties sleeping or staying asleep a number of evenings each week in the early stages. Later on, insomnia may become a regular nocturnal occurrence, and no matter how exhausted you are, you still can’t sleep.
- Increased illness: Because your body is weary, your immune system weakens, making you prone to colds, flu, infections, and other immune-related health disorders.
The 12 stages of burnout
Burnout, unlike a cold or the flu, does not strike all at once. The 12 stages of burnout have been defined by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North.
- Excessive amount of drive/ambition: Too much ambition, which is common when starting a new career or taking on a new task, can lead to burnout.
- Pushing oneself to work harder: Ambition drives you to work and push harder
- Ignoring your own needs: You begin to neglect self-care activities such as sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition.
- Conflict displacement: Instead of admitting that you’re pushing yourself too hard, you blame your problems on your employer, your job’s expectations, or your coworkers.
- No time for non-work-related demands: You start isolating yourself from family and friends. Social invites to parties, movies and dinner dates become tiresome rather than fun.
- Denial: Impatience grows with people around you. You blame others, viewing them as inept, lazy, and overbearing rather than accepting responsibility for your actions.
- Withdrawal: You start isolating yourself from family and friends.
- Changes in behavior: Those on the verge of burnout may become more hostile and snap at loved ones for no apparent cause.
- Depersonalization: Feeling disconnected from your life and your capacity to manage it.
- Inner emptiness or anxiety: Feeling depleted or nervous. You may engage in thrill-seeking activities such as substance abuse, gambling, or binge eating to cope with this mood.
- Depression: Life begins to lose its purpose, and you begin to feel hopeless.
- Mental or physical collapse: This can affect your capacity to cope. Mental health or medical treatment may be required.
How to Avoid Burnout
Stress is unavoidable, but burnout is preventable. Following these strategies may help you avoid letting stress get the best of you:
Exercise is not only important for our physical health, but it may also help us emotionally. Don’t have the time? Mini-workouts and brief walks are simple methods to include fitness into your everyday routine.
Maintain a healthy diet
Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods can work as a natural antidepressant. Including omega-3-rich foods like flaxseed oil, walnuts, and fish in your diet may help improve your mood.
Maintain healthy sleeping patterns
Our bodies need rest and reset time, which is why good sleep habits are critical to our health.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, avoiding coffee before night, developing a soothing evening routine, and excluding devices from the bedroom can contribute to good sleep hygiene.
It is critical to ask for help during difficult situations. If asking for help is uncomfortable, consider creating a self-care “check-in” with close friends and family members for support.
CBD Can Help You Beat Burnout
CBD (cannabidiol) has been demonstrated to have a variety of possible health advantages. CBD does not make you drowsy in the morning and delivers relaxing benefits naturally to fight burnout, lessen anxiety, sleep better, reduce stress levels, and promote relaxation.
According to a poll of over 1,000 workers, more than half reported feeling tired, depressed, and having difficulty concentrating. Another research conducted in the United Kingdom discovered that healthcare practitioners and other vital employees were more vulnerable to depression due to COVID-19 stress.
With this in mind, researchers from Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo recently undertook a study to examine if daily dosages of cannabidiol (CBD) may alleviate emotional weariness and burnout symptoms in a cohort of 120 frontline healthcare personnel.
For four weeks, half of the study’s participants were given 300mgs of CBD oil daily. The remaining half did not get CBD. A psychiatrist assessed all patients weekly and encouraged them to exercise.
The study’s findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry, discovered that individuals who got CBD therapy had much less emotional exhaustion and burnout than those who did not. CBD use was also associated with low levels of anxiety and despair but had no effect on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“This randomized clinical trial found that daily treatment with CBD, 300 mg, for four weeks combined with standard care was superior to standard care alone for reducing symptoms of emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and depression among frontline health care professionals working with COVID-19 patients,” researchers wrote.
“Burnout among healthcare personnel is a serious problem for healthcare systems, with a direct influence on treatment quality.” There is presently no pharmaceutical medication available to prevent or treat burnout symptoms and emotional exhaustion among frontline health care providers dealing with COVID-19 patients… As a result, the current study’s findings might have a significant influence on the mental health of healthcare workers globally.”
According to the researchers, more placebo-controlled trials are needed to determine whether CBD might be utilized more generally as a mental health treatment.
You have options, don’t suffer alone
Being subjected to constant stress might lead to burnout. Exhaustion, anxiety, and withdrawal from friends and family members are some of the symptoms.
A balanced diet, regular exercise, and a decent night’s sleep, on the other hand, may help to prevent this stressful condition.
Concerned about friends and family who may be burnt out? Listening to their concerns, acknowledging their feelings, and providing assistance can all help to relieve the pressure.
Making self-care a part of your daily practice might help you prevent burnout. Even if you’re working long hours, preparing for exams, or caring for small children, remember to include some joy into your daily routine.
Try going for a stroll, talking to a buddy, or watching an entertaining television show. Small acts of self-care like these help prevent stress from escalating into something more serious, such as burnout.