Every day, you feel physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Your motivation and productivity are at all-time lows, and you’re moving through life on autopilot. This loss of energy and enthusiasm doesn’t mean you’re lazy – it means you’re living with burnout.
What Is Burnout?
There is a limit to how much stress your brain and body can take. If you routinely push yourself to accept more than you can handle without taking steps to manage or reduce your workload, you’ll become overworked and overwhelmed, feeling like nothing you do matters.
Once you are living with burnout, it can affect your daily ability to function. Since burnout symptoms like these happen gradually, you might not notice them right away.
- Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
- Diminished pride in your work
- Losing sight of yourself and your goals
- Difficulty maintaining relationships and being present with loved ones
- Frustration and irritability with co-workers
- Unexplained muscle tension, pain, fatigue and insomnia
The Effects of Burnout
While anyone can experience burnout, people in high-pressure jobs – like first responders and air traffic controllers – tend to get burned out sooner and experience more severe symptoms.
Besides adversely affecting your job performance, burnout can interfere with your quality of life by making you feel numb and detached, as if you’re merely going through the motions. You may lose interest in previously enjoyable activities or have trouble relaxing outside work.
Burnout is also bad for your health because chronic stress elevates your risk of developing conditions like high blood pressure, depression and a substance use disorder.
Learning to Overcome Burnout
If you are already feeling drained and fatigued, it can be challenging to pinpoint the underlying cause of your stress and identify possible solutions. Unfortunately, addressing burnout isn’t always straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it will hold you back forever. Here are some strategies to try.
1. Practice Saying No
If you’ve earned a reputation for being a hard worker who diligently finds solutions to every problem, your colleagues will take notice. Eventually, you might find yourself getting pulled into meetings and finishing other people’s projects. No matter how firmly you believe you can do it all, your ambition to please everyone can backfire when you hit a wall of burnout. Evaluate your to-do list – if it’s already full of more tasks than you can realistically tackle, ask your co-workers for help. Consider canceling non-essential meetings and, if possible, turning down future projects. You may be pleasantly surprised at the relief you feel when saying no.
2. Prioritize Self-Care
When you have too much on your plate, healthy self-care activities could be the first thing to fall by the wayside. You might start skipping workouts in hopes of reclaiming that time in your day, or grabbing fast food from a drive-through restaurant instead of eating a balanced meal. One significant contributor to burnout is sacrificing your work-life balance by working when you should be relaxing. Start building some “me time” into your schedule, and make sure your co-workers know you won’t be available to respond to work-related emails and text messages during your leisure hours.
3. Set Boundaries
Burnout can make you feel powerless to control what happens in your life – as if events are rushing past you in a blur. Setting limits on the time you give to others can help you manage stress and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Before you agree to take on any additional obligations, ask yourself if you have the time and mental energy to do so. Remember, you’re not being rude or selfish by declining commitments – you are protecting your well-being.
Find a New Purpose
If you’re struggling with burnout, your mental and physical health will suffer as you become increasingly apathetic and detached. You might rely on drugs or alcohol in an attempt to cope with stress and self-medicate your symptoms. However, drinking and drug use will only make your situation worse in the long run.
At Cumberland Heights, we have created programs that include age- and gender-specific tracks to meet our clients’ unique needs. To begin healing, request help today.