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Burnout – Stages, Signs, Causes and Treatment

Are you so worn out or burnout that even moving a muscle feels challenging? Do you have to drag yourself out of bed to work? Does depressing news make you upset for a long time? 

These are signs that you are on your way to reaching a state known as burnout. The indications are subtle at first, but with time they can get worse. Paying attention to these initial signs is vital so that you can avoid a breakdown.

What Is Burnout?

The term burnout was coined in the 1970s by a renowned psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger. He described burnout as a serious and stressful condition, which leads to acute physical, mental, and psychological exhaustion. 

The negative impact of this condition can create disturbance in every sphere of your life – your home, place of work, and even your social circle.  

What Are the Stages of Burnout?

Psychologists have summarized the following stages of this syndrome:

  • Excessive ambition: It happens when you join a new organization or be a part of a new project, you go out of the way to prove yourself. As this feeling of ambition keeps building within you, you keep pushing yourself harder. It can lead to burnout.
  • Neglecting your desires: You ignore your needs like eating well, getting enough sleep, and your health.
  • Conflict displacement: You choose to blame your colleagues and seniors for the troubles at work. You fail to understand that it is your behavior that is pressurizing your mind.
  • Denial: You start becoming impatient, and instead of acknowledging your behavior, you start pointing out others as incompetent. 
  • Withdrawal: You withdraw from family and friends. Instead of enjoying parties, dinner invitations, movies, or dates, you find them arduous.
  • Behavioral changes: You may lose your cool often with colleagues, friends, or family members. Also, your conduct can get more aggressive with time. 
  • Depersonalization: You may begin to feel detached and a vacuum in your life. To cope with this, you may become erratic and opt for perilous thrills like gambling, drugs, etc.
  • Depression: At this stage, life feels meaningless, and you fail to find any hope whatsoever. 
  • Mental collapse: You fail to cope with the whole circumstance, and your fear of failure escalates. It makes you feel miserable landing up in the final stage of burnout syndrome. 

What Are the Signs of Burnout?

Do you feel that you are experiencing burnout but are uncertain of the signs? Watch out for these symptoms:

  • Exhaustion: You feel physically and emotionally drained. You experience physical symptoms such as persistent headaches, stomach pain, low appetite, and disturbed sleeping patterns. 
  • Irritability: Coping with burnout is not easy as it can cause you to lose your temper frequently. Even the simple daily chores like doing household tasks, meetings at work can start to feel cumbersome. 
  • Isolation: Very often, people suffering from this problem feel overwhelmed due to the circumstances. Due to this, they may detach themselves and stop socializing. They may also not confide in any issues they face to their family, friends, or co-workers.
  • Repeated illness: Burnout can lower your immune strength, making you susceptible to several health problems. It includes flu, cold, insomnia, and your mental health gets affected too. 
  • Fantasies about escaping: Being dissatisfied and unhappy with the burdening demands of job, family, or other factors is also a key sign of burnout. It can make many people think about escaping from such situations. They may start thinking about solo vacations or running away. 
  • Drugs and alcohol: There can be extreme cases where people may resort to alcohol, drugs, smoking, or overeating to ignore or numb the pain.
  • Wandering mind: People with burnout syndrome may also have trouble concentrating. It can also make you forgetful.

What Are the Causes of Burnout?

Stress is not the sole cause of burnout. Numerous other reasons contribute to it. Let us look at them in detail:

  • Vague or too demanding work dynamics
  • A monotonous work profile
  • A work environment that is chaotic or highly stressful
  • Lack of rewards or recognition
  • Not being able to handle a work-life imbalance. 
  • Pessimistic view about the surroundings
  • Being over-ambitious but not able to achieve targets
  • Tendency to be a perfectionist 
  • Trying to be in control of everything but failing.

Lifestyle causes

  • Not getting or unable to get enough sleep.
  • Lack of caring people around; absence of supportive relationships
  • Too many responsibilities and no helping hand
  • Lack of relaxation and socialization 

When Should You See A Doctor?

Burnout does not occur overnight. It happens when you go through a prolonged stretch of excessive stress. But the frustration keeps growing, which can trigger serious consequences. 

You must visit a doctor if you experience these warning signs:

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment

Are There Ways to Treat and Manage Burnout?

Stressful conditions are a part of our lives. But there are ways with which you can tackle and respond to such situations better without encountering burnout. 

The following steps can help:

  • A balanced diet: A diet replete with omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for you. Such food items have components, which act as natural antidepressants. Include oysters, walnuts, leafy greens, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., in your diet every day.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise not only keeps our physical health at its best but boosts our emotional health too. It need not be necessarily a long gym session. Even a short walk or workout session for half an hour can be helpful.
  • Stay in touch: Having someone by your side during a stressful situation certainly plays a significant role. So, stay in touch with friends so that you can look after each other during testing times. Also, check with your family members regularly and ask for help whenever you feel stressed. 
  • Good sleeping habits: It is undeniable that our bodies require ample rest. Hence good sleeping habits are crucial for our mental health. 
    • Avoid caffeine and nicotine before going to bed.
    • Keep your smartphone away.
    • Avoid or restrict your daytime nap time.
    • Stick to a fixed time of going to bed and waking up.
  • An open mind: Keep an open mind while you consider the choices in front of you. Do not be over-demanding about your job. Let not the negativity overpower you.
  • Join a community: You can join a social, religious, or support group, where you can connect with like-minded people. This way, you get an opportunity to meet new people and make friends.
  • Seek expert help: Trying the above methods can prove valuable. However, in many cases, these may not be enough. It is when you think that nothing is making you feel better that you must seek professional guidance. A certified psychologist or a physician-psychotherapist can untangle the knots, guide you in planning things in a better way, and help you heal. 

The Takeaway

No matter what profession you are associated with, stress and exhaustion are unavoidable in today’s time. Factors like long working hours, exam preparation, looking after severely ill family members, taking care of kids can make you feel burnt out. 

Try some self-care gestures like watching movies, going for a quick walk, talking to friends listening to your favorite music. With such joyful additions in your life, you can stop feeling burdened by burnout and regain your positivity.

Frrequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is complete recovery from burnout possible?

Burnout can worsen unless you address the root cause behind it. Ignoring it can cause further harm to physical and mental health. 

Yes, it can. If you overlook burnout, it can take a toll on your physical health leading to  diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes etc 

Is burnout different from stress?

Stress is something that we go through every day for something or another reason. But burnout is when you go through a lengthy period of stress, which makes you demotivated, and causes a multitude of physical and mental damage.  

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