Burnout is an incredibly common (and incredibly devious) part of modern life. It’s most often associated with entrepreneurs and those working demanding or highly creative jobs, but burnout can affect anyone.
The particularly insidious aspect of burnout is that it can creep up on you unawares. One day you may be feeling tired and worn out, but still not completely in its clutches, and the following morning, you could literally be unable to do anything with your day.
Let’s look at seven common signs of burnout – and what you can do about it.
1. You Feel Exhausted
One of the most common signs of burnout is feeling tired. Not just tired, but completely exhausted.
This is why recognizing burnout can sometimes be challenging. After all, we all feel tired at times, especially if we’re not getting enough sleep and experience a lot of stress.
Burnout is different from feeling tired, though. For one, a couple of good nights of sleep won’t be able to cure it. Also, it comes laced with a sense of dread, which drains your energy even further.
2. You Are Dreading Going to Work
If your burnout is caused by your job (as it so often is), you will often dread heading in to work. This can be true if you work from home, too. Just the mere idea of work and doing your job can fill you with a sense of foreboding.
You will find everything exhausting and difficult – even the parts of your job you used to like and the ones that are not that particularly demanding for you.
3. You Can’t Get Enough Sleep
Another particularly dreadful aspect of burnout is that it can also cause an inability to fall asleep. Your cortisol levels stay up, seeing as you are feeling so stressed a lot of the time. This will inhibit your melatonin production (which is the hormone that promotes sleep).
In other words, you will need to sleep more than ever, but you will be unable to get the rest you need. Of course, there may be other causes as to why you can’t fall asleep, so make sure to check whether there’s something else going on.
4. You Are Not Eating Like You Used to
You might also be feeling less hungry than usual, and food might not seem appetizing at all. Even the dishes you normally love might not provoke any positive emotions.
On the other hand, there’s also the possibility that you’ll want to overindulge in certain foods, specifically fast food and food high in sugar. This is the type of food that might seem to provide the energy you crave and make you feel better, but only temporarily.
5. Your Mood Is Altered
Burnout will cause you to become moodier. You will be quick to anger, you will find yourself feeling sad and emotional for no apparent reason, and you will be irritable and easily annoyed.
All of these mood swings will affect your relationships, both at work, at home, and with strangers, which will only add more fuel to the fire.
6. You Are No Longer Productive or Creative
Being productive or creative is practically impossible when burning out. The realization that your creativity seems to have been completely sapped is often the alarm that goes off in your mind, leading you to start looking for the underlying cause.
Of course, a lack of productivity will impact your performance and how you feel about your day, which will only make things that bit worse.
7. You Enjoy Nothing
With burnout, you will often feel like there is no more joy and enjoyment in the world. Everything you used to love, all of your hobbies and pastimes, will seem irrelevant and won’t be able to lift your mood.
You might even find them irritating and bothersome. That’s especially if you want to enjoy them but feel like you can’t.
How to Battle Burnout
Preventing burnout is always better than treating it. But if you have reached a point where you are burning out or are just about to, here is what you can do.
Take an immediate break
Consider yourself ill and take some time off like you would if you had the flu. This won’t help immediately, and you will need time to wash the stress out of your system, but it’s the first step to recovery.
Mind what you eat
Make a conscious effort to improve your diet. Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats if animal products are part of your diet. Cut out sugar and caffeine. This will also need some time to work, but it will definitely help your body recover.
Exercise is one of the keys to mental health, so finding a way to get active and stay active is paramount. Walking will be a perfect start, but you can also try yoga, swimming, or any other physical activity that you will actually enjoy.
Catch up on your sleep
Getting the sleep you need will also help, even if it means you sleep for 14 hours straight for a few days. Your body needs to repair the damage, so let it do its job.
Put yourself first
Do what you feel like doing until you get back to feeling yourself. If you want to stay in, stay in. If you feel like going out, go out. Indulge yourself (just not with food and drink), and give in to little pleasures.
Overcoming burnout will not be easy, and your mind will still want to stress out. Treat yourself with care and allow yourself time. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t start feeling better overnight.
Burnout can be incredibly dangerous, not to mention that it feels simply awful. Do your best to prevent it in the future, but if you’ve recognized you might be getting dangerously close to burning out, reconsider your priorities before you do anything else. Pull on the breaks, and give yourself the space to work your way back to feeling like yourself again.