Is it Stress or Are You Burning Out? Signs You Need to Worry About
It’s easy to get confused between stress and burning out. But it’s important to remember that while stress is a normal occurrence in daily life, and is even important up till a limit – burnout isn’t normal. Stress leads to burnout, along with other factors like lethargy, depression and cynicism; but it’s possible to experience stress without it developing into burnout.
Burnout occurs as a result of excessive stress, coupled with a cycle of negative emotions and the body’s lack of engagement and withdrawal. It is a sort of a defence of the body when it’s physically and mentally exhausted by putting in effort towards work or performance without getting any restoration time. This leads to a decline in performance as well as indifference in performing tasks that you enjoyed doing previously.
Here are some signs you may be burning out and you need help.
It’s more than feeling tired, it’s the sort of emotional and physical exhaustion which makes you feel dread at the prospect of facing another day. Even after time out, you feel drained and want to do nothing. This may continue for a long period of time, say weeks and months – without the feeling of exhaustion lifting at the slightest.
You may catch yourself getting extremely irritable and angry for no reason at all – or for things which normally would not bother you. You may find yourself becoming increasingly detached and may even start questioning your reasons for doing what you’re doing. While negative emotions and frustrations are a part of everyday life, it’s important to step back and recognize when they stop feeling authentic to who you are.
3. Having More Conflicts
Burnout may cause you to have more interpersonal problems at both work and home than before. You might get into more arguments as a result of frustration, or you might withdraw from your family or partner etc as a result of the exhaustion which would eventually lead you into conflicts with them.
4. Decline in Performance
Burnout generally leads to a decreased efficacy in work. Productivity drops significantly during burnout even though you feel like you are constantly working. This occurs because there is a lot of mental preoccupation and a lack of alertness coupled with a feeling of lethargy. All these factors contribute to a decline in performance.
5. Health Problems
Burnout has a lot of physical symptoms as well. Headaches, digestive disorders, insomnia, frequent cold and fever, muscle tension, constant fatigue are all signs of burnout. Burnout may even lead to depression and in the long run – heart problems.
Like with other disorders and life problems, one may be inclined to distract themselves or soothe themselves temporarily by overeating or indulging in drinking, smoking or even drugs.
If you feel like you are experiencing more than two of the above symptoms or are generally having a lot of trouble with work lately, then it’s a good idea to consult a mental health professional and to seek their expert opinion. These are just a list of symptoms which may help you identify what you are going through but are in no way a formal diagnosis and should not be mistaken for one.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)