Let's Talk About Burnout

Burnout Warning Signs & Prevention

Whether you're a college student with too much on your plate or a marketing professional with too many deadlines to count, you could be at risk.

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What is Burnout?

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as, "a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity."

Burnout is a particular kind of stress leading to feelings of helplessness, exhaustion and disillusionment. Burnout makes your future look bleak, your problems seem insurmountable and your mood and productivity plummet.

But, no matter how burned out you are, there are steps you can take to regain your productivity and positivity. Recognizing warning signs and taking steps to prevent burnout can help you stay productive and positive in your work, school and personal lives.

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Burnout Causes

  • Feeling undervalued at work. A 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association found that feeling valued and appreciated in the workplace is linked to employee well-being and productivity.

  • Never saying no. Taking on too many responsibilities and failing to say yes can cause your performance to suffer and lead to even more stress.

  • Being a perfectionist. If your fear of making mistakes and not meeting other people’s expectations controls, your perfectionism is setting you up for burnout.

  • Being a workaholic. Working too much without enough time for relaxing or socializing can lead to fatigue and burnout.

  • Falling into the routine. If your current job doesn't challenge you, your motivation and investment in your work is likely to plummet.

Burnout Warning Signs

  • Not getting enough sleep. Burnout makes you feel drained. If you feel tired after a night's rest or have a hard time falling asleep even though you're tired, your sleep habits may be associated with burnout.

  • Isolating yourself and feeling disconnected. When you are on the road to burnout, you may distance yourself from your surroundings or begin to emotionally remove yourself from your responsibilities.

  • Frequently getting sick. Your immune system becomes weakened when you are fatigued and exhausted, making you more vulnerable to getting sick.

  • Change in appetite. When you are overworking yourself, you may not feel hungry or may skip meals. You may also overeat to cope with your exhaustion.

  • Decreased motivation and increased procrastination. When experiencing burnout, the smallest task may seem insurmountable. This may cause you to put off your work which will lead to even more stress.

  • Mood irregularities. Mood swings, interpersonal tension and irritability brought on by burnout may become so serious that they interfere with your personal and professional life.

  • Misusing substances. Burnout expert Clarke Gaither, MD, wrote a great article about the link between burnout and coping with alcohol or drugs.

Burnout Prevention

  • Don't forget the basics. Remembering to sleep, eat and drink water may seem obvious to some. The burned out employee, however, may cheat on basic maintenance. Eating more, sleeping more and drinking more can help protect your health and alleviate stress.

  • Move your body. Being active and getting some exercise can take your mind off work and help reduce stress.

  • Say no and delegate. Taking things off your to-do list will help alleviate stress and keep you from getting overwhelmed.

  • Practice mindfulness. Leading a mindful life can help you be fully present and keep you from getting overwhelmed. Mindfulness can also help reduce anxiety by facing situations with patience and without judgement.

  • Rediscover your passion. Reflect on why you're doing whatever it is that made you burned out. Are you being intentional with how you're investing your time and energy? Are you passionate about it? If the answer is yes, lean into that rediscovered passion and let it guide you toward motivation. If the answer is no, you may have to find something else that ignites your inner flame.

  • Be gentle with yourself. Practicing positive self talk can boost your productivity and self-esteem while reducing stress.

  • Reach out. As hard as it may be to seek support, it is incredibly important in any mental health situation. Looking for motivation to reach out? Read my story via the button below.

“Leading a mindful life can help you be fully present and keep you from getting overwhelmed.”