Burnout Symptoms: Signs, Triggers and Coping Strategies

Written by Priyanka Agarwal, Writer at Hola Health
Medically Reviewed by Amira Shah, MA in Counselling Psychology, Registered Psychotherapist

In today’s rapidly moving world, burnout has become a widespread issue affecting individuals across various professions and walks of life. Burnout is more than just feeling stressed or drained; it is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion resulting from persistent stress at work. According to a recent State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, 44% of employees worldwide experience stress at work. Let’s delve into burnout symptoms, causes and consequences as well as explore helpful coping strategies to mitigate its impact.

You should consider discussing with a healthcare professional or your employer if you feel that your personal life or mental health is negatively affected by stress. Here are some common physical symptoms of stress to be aware of:

How Burnout Affects Mental Health?

Burnout considerably impacts mental health by causing a range of symptoms that affect our thinking abilities and emotional well-being. Prolonged exposure to chronic stress and exhaustion associated with burnout often leads to feelings of being overwhelmed, impatience, and emotional depletion. Individuals may experience heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and mood fluctuations due to sustained workplace stress. Furthermore, burnout can compromise concentration, mindfulness, and decision-making abilities, hindering the performance of everyday tasks. This cognitivel fog may further aggravate feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. If left unaddressed, burnout can affect mental health and overall quality of life.

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Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout has a wide range of symptoms. Here is a list of symptoms that you can use as a guide:

1. Physical Symptoms

  • Exhaustion or feeling drained.
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns.
  • Gastrointestinal issues like stomach aches.
  • Frequent illness
  • Muscle tension or body aches

2. Emotional Symptoms

  • Increased irritability or short temper.
  • Feelings of detachment or emotional numbness.
  • Anxiety or worry about work or life.
  • Lack of motivation or lack of drive.
  • Lack of confidence or self-doubt.
  • Feelings of helplessness.

3. Behavioural Symptoms

  • Reduced work performance.
  • Procrastination or avoidance of tasks.
  • Isolating yourself from colleagues or friends.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Overworking or inability to unhook from work responsibilities.

Causes of Burnout

Burnout is not only caused by demanding work environments or overabundance of responsibilities. It can be experienced by anyone with persistent chronic stress.

1. Work-Related Causes

  • Having too many responsibilities to manage within a stipulated timeframe.
  • Feeling unappreciated or undervalued.
  • Having little or no control over your work.
  • Struggling with  work-life balance.
  • Dealing with a toxic work environment such as conflicts with co-workers or bosses.

2. Lifestyle Causes

  • Ignoring physical, emotional or mental health needs such as sleep, physical activity, nutrition or relaxation.
  • Taking on too many responsibilities and having no time for rest or leisure activities.
  • Engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating or excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Lacking sufficient close relationships.

3. Personality Trait Causes

  • Having a strong desire to achieve unrealistic goals.
  • Being overly ambitious or competitive.
  • Holding a negative self-perception.
  • Struggling to set boundaries or declining requests.

Ways to manage burnout

Stress is inherent in every aspect of our lives. While the consequences of burnout cannot be avoided, they can be prevented. Here are some tips to help you manage burnout.

1. Daily Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity can help with stress management. Exercising, walking and doing yoga are some of the ways you can keep fit. Daily exercise not only benefits our physical health, but also improves our mental well-being

2. Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness helps prevent burnout by fostering self-awareness. By being mindful and taking appropriate action, individuals can identify stress and exhaustion early on. Mindfulness techniques enable people to better cope with stress and pressure.

3. Maintain a Balanced Diet: A balanced diet that provides essential nutrients and regulates blood sugar contributes to mood stability and cognitive functioning, reducing burnout risk. Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil, walnuts, and fish, can help uplift mood.

4. Communicate With Your Supervisor: In case your work life is getting too hectic for you, discuss your worries with your supervisor and fix the issues. You may also proceed to look for a job that might be a better fit for you if things at work don’t seem to be improving.

5. Seek Help: Don’t hesitate to seek assistance from friends, family, or colleagues. Talking about your challenges with others can help you cope and alleviate burnout.

When to Seek Help?

Seeking help for burnout is important when you find yourself experiencing steady symptoms that impact your daily life and well-being. If you notice significant changes in your sleep patterns or increased irritability, it’s necessary to reach out for support. Consulting a healthcare professional can provide invaluable support and coping mechanisms to manage burnout fruitfully. Additionally, talking about your concerns with your employer or HR Department may lead to means that may help relieve workplace stress. Understanding burnout symptoms and taking proactive steps may result in enhanced mental health and wellness.

In conclusion, burnout is a diverse phenomenon with substantial effects on individuals, organizations and society as a whole. By implementing effective coping strategies, we can aspire to create environments where burnout is not as prevalent and individuals can prosper personally and professionally.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.