Throughout our lives, we play multiple roles. We can be a parent, a friend, a professional, a sibling, a sports person, and so on. Balancing all these roles can be challenging. We are only human, and we have a limited amount of time every day. When we have too much in our plate and do not have the tools to appropriately balance all of our roles, we can end up experiencing burnout. But, how can we identify if we have burnout? What symptoms can help us recognise that we are burning-out?
What is Burnout?
Burnout has become a popular term in recent years, but what does it entail exactly? The WHO refers to burnout as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. This is a very broad definition of burnout and, upon researching, I was flabbergasted to find that there are approximately 130 symptoms of burnout. 130 symptoms that are currently known. However, this does not mean that you need to have all 130 symptoms in order to be struggling with burnout. It simply means that burnout is a diverse syndrome that manifests in different ways for each person. Every person has different symptoms and if we count all the symptoms that people can have, it adds up to 130 symptoms (and counting).
Also, it is important to mention that burnout has recently been found to not only be related to occupational stress. It can arise from imbalances between different life domains. For instance, parental burnout has become increasingly common among parents, and social media burnout is a new term that describes the negative impact that excessive social media use can have on our lives.
The Symptoms of Burnout
Even though burnout can have different manifestations and be caused by different life imbalances (e.g., work, parental life, or social media use), there are three symptoms that seem to permeate throughout all those struggling with burnout. These symptoms include: exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced performance. These symptoms encompass the three dimensions of burnout, the physical dimension (exhaustion), the cognitive/emotional dimension (cynicism), and the behavioral dimension (performance). Here we explain some common symptoms experienced in each domain.
Emotional or Cognitive Symptoms:
These physical and cognitive/emotional symptoms can translate into real-world behavior. These behaviors can lead to reduced productivity and performance at work or other domains of life. Some behavioral symptoms include:
It is important to note that all the symptoms above can interplay with each other. For instance, if you are having sleep problems because of overthinking and could not have a nice rest, you might feel more irritable during the day, which might prompt you to be more aggressive with your coworkers and friends, ultimately impacting your relationships. Likewise, experiencing headaches and muscle tension can lead to reduced concentration and memory issues, which can hinder your performance at work and your willingness to engage in the hobbies you once loved.
So, do some of these burnout symptoms resonate with you? Do you think that you might be experiencing burnout? This video might help you self-reflect further.
If these symptoms hit close to home, we invite you to reflect on how long have these symptoms been present. During what period of time did these symptoms arise? For instance, they might have arisen after you changed workplaces, or when your baby was born. Think about the content of your symptoms, are you worried about work, family-life, or other aspects of your life? Some behavioral tendencies, such as perfectionism, or disorders, like depression, can fuel burnout. Using CBT techniques could help you identify which tendencies can be rendering you vulnerable to burning out.
Whatever the reasons behind your symptoms, it is not advisable to self-diagnose. So, if you suspect you have burnout, we encourage you to seek professional help. By seeking a professional, you can receive an assessment and knowledgeable support to help you prevent or treat burnout.
Remember, you are not alone. Burnout has become increasingly common in our fast-paced world, and you are brave for seeking answers and help. If you need a hand, here at AntiLoneliness we would be happy to support you. Take care!
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