You come home to a relaxing evening. The office workload was less today, a rare occurrence in itself. You anticipate a delightful dinner, smiling faces at home. And, your expectations are met. Only one thing seems to be missing. The happiness or satisfaction that you anticipated after these activities and relaxation seems to be missing. You have been worried about the elusive feeling of happiness, the mental satisfaction certain activities gave you and enthusiasm your hobbies once evoked inside you. You might be a victim of Burnout.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is the constant mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. It is a serious condition arising from stress that often interferes with everyday life, especially the professional life. Think of burnout as meeting excessive mental, physical & emotional demands than your bodily resources can meet! Imagine a car engine that can run at its 100% power for 20 minutes and at 90% power for 3 hours as per the manufacturer. If you shove the gas pedal and run the engine at 100% power for more than 20 minutes, then continue for more than 3 hours, it will overheat and sustain permanent damage. Your mind and body are no different that this engine.
Signs of Mental Burnout
E-health Records show that more than 46% of employees in the US alone have either suffered burnout or are currently experiencing it. To know if you are suffering from burnout or not, check for the signs provided below. If you check three or more of them, it is likely that burnout is eating away the joy and satisfaction of your life;
- Exhaustion- Ask yourself if you feel tired all the time? Do you go to bed tired, wake-up and are still tired? If yes, it is likely due to burnout.
- Nihilistic Outlook- A classical sign of burnout is developing a ‘Nihilistic Outlook.’ Nihilism is nothing but a mindset engulfed by negative thoughts, frustration, cynicism, and ‘in the end it wouldn’t matter’ type thoughts.
- Zero Motivation- Do you feel lack of motivation for any small or big undertaking, be it mowing the lawn, completing that office report or even grabbing that beneficial professional/monetary/learning opportunity? If yes, you definitely need this guide to recover from this life-tanking condition.
- Declining Job Performance- You might have noticed a pattern of missed deadlines, mistakes in everyday office tasks, prevailing habit of procrastination, and even increased conflict within your job role. This is yet another side-effect of mental burnout.
- Brain Fog & Concentration- While ‘Brain Fog’ is a condition separate from burnout, it can manifest itself as its by-product too. Brain-fog is the inability to think clearly and arrive at right decisions most of the times. It is also characterized by lack of concentration and shortened attention-span.
If you checked at least 3 of the above symptoms, then consult a Well-being professional or counselor ASAP.
There may be other symptoms/effects of this condition. It is crucial that you make it a priority to be resolved before it lands you into a hospital room full of beeping medical devices, takes a toll on your relationships and career in the long run besides diminishing the quality of life.
Underlying Causes of Burnout
Burnout is a state of mind that primarily results from chronic stress. In the simplest of terms, any factor that triggers a person’s stress levels continuously for a long time can result into the state of mental burnout. Some of the common causes include;
- Over-demanding job role
- Strained relationship that constantly induces stress
- Mismatch between job role, aptitude & passion
- Toxic workplace culture
- Poor work-life balance
- Absence of Social Support
If left untreated, mental burnout often results into fatigue, insomnia, substance/alcohol abuse, mood swings, constant anxiety and stress, heart conditions, etc. The only way to bounce back from it is through a systematic and persistent recovery plan. Here is what you must do besides consulting a doctor or well-being counselor;
- Seek Support- Approach your friends, family or HR and discuss your condition to seek support
- Get Physical- The fastest recovery plan includes getting adequate physical workout every week. For e.g., running promotes fitness, sense of satisfaction, builds endurance and released endorphins when you achieve a set milestone (much required in the state of burnout). You can practice Yoga or Pilates too!
- New Approach to Goal Setting- Set the existing and new goals on the basis of these 3 criteria- Why this goal, benefits and improvement it will bring to you and whether it is a ‘want-to’ goal or a ‘have-to’ goal. This strategy will help you fight exhaustion, make you more positive than cynical and make you more effective.
Follow the above steps without over complicating them by overthinking. Keep life as simple as possible and enjoy every day like an ice-cream. Burn the Burnout and share your experience in the comments below!