What is Burnout Exactly?
The phenomenon of burnout plaguing society in the workplace, schools, and homes is defined as chronic stress. It’s constant anxiety and worry about your performance and future if that performance were to dip that leaves you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. So much more than just tiredness, burnout is that feeling that you have absolutely nothing left to give either mentally, emotionally, or physically. You’re drained. Empty. And it affects all areas of your life.
This feeling is something most likely to affect high achievers – the people who feel that they have to do everything and be the best at it too. These are the ones who commonly place immeasurable amounts of pressure on themselves for fear of being considered ‘not good enough’. What many don’t realize is that where at first, a work ethic like this could be commendable, it eventually takes its toll and the very thing they have worked so hard for begins to suffer. You can’t work when you’re calling in sick all the time.
You can’t learn effectively when you’re not resting your mind or following a nutritious diet. You can’t be a good, present mother when you’re depressed and disillusioned. The cost of pushing yourself to a standstill negates the very reason you were pushing in the first place, and this is why it’s so important to be aware of the warning signals you’re heading for burnout so that you can pull the brakes before it’s too late.
The tell-tale signs of burnout include lack of concentration and forgetfulness, chronic fatigue but having trouble sleeping, chest pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, anger and irritability, feelings of isolation, no longer finding enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities, and detachment from people and things. The symptoms of burnout result in a marked decrease in performance over and above the physical and emotional effects.
It feels as if every aspect of your life – work, family, friends, self – is slowly crumbling around you. And being depleted in every way, could make the idea of resolving the oncoming disaster virtually impossible. But it isn’t.
Burnout is not only avoidable, it is also possible to get through if it does reach that point. And the solution might seem unthinkable to those in the thick of it, but really all you need to do is what you struggled with from the start: take time out.