Why is it that we find ourselves yelling obscenities at other drivers in the traffic while on our way to work, dreading another day of dealing with the politics in the office? Or on the occasional day, maybe once or twice a month you may find yourself crying in the bathroom at work? Or maybe you fell into a deep spiral of anger and depression after you single handedly worked evenings and weekends to make sure a certain project didn’t fall apart, then when the project ended up an amazing success, your name was nowhere to be seen on it… so you went home and hit the wine.
These are just a couple of examples, however situations like these are more common than we like to admit, with more and more people burning out that it is now being recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by the World Health Organisation. According to recent studies, we are more stressed now than we were just 5 years ago, however many of us still feel too scared to talk openly about this as they don’t want to appear weak or put a spotlight questioning their abilities in the workplace.
What is Burn Out anyway and why should I care?
The official definition that has been given for Burnout by the World Health Organisation is: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
From my own personal experience of burning out previously, I do resonate with their definition and the dimensions mentioned. I do however believe there is more to burning out than just stress in the workplace, but this is a conversation and full blog post for another day. What I am passionate about is giving women the information on what burning out may look like in their lives so that they are able to do something BEFORE they burn out. We need to start opening up the conversation so we can start moving forward and making the necessary changes in the workplace and our daily lives.
Once you have burnt out, dealing with any kind of stress becomes a lot more difficult and everything feels so much harder to face, so knowing the signs and doing something about it before you reach that point is really important.
5 Signs you may be burning out
With that said, here are 5 signs that you may be on your way to burning out, with hopefully some relatable examples of what this may look like in real life. There are more than just these signs, however I have chosen the most predominant from research and my own experience of burnout:
- Constant Fatigue and / or Exhaustion – when I was on the verge of burnout, I was constantly feeling exhausted. I turned to Google and self-diagnosed myself with adrenal fatigue which became a running joke with those close to me. It wasn’t really a joke though as I would literally crash as soon as I slowed down, holidays would be spent feeling sick plus sleeping and I even fell asleep while watching Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the theater (which is not a boring show by the way!);
- Prolonged Lack of Motivation – this is not feeling like you can’t be bothered every once in a while, which if we are honest, probably happens to even the most productive people. This is a constant feeling like you just can’t face getting out of bed, it takes all your strength to get yourself up and going;
- Irrational Behavior – I know this may not be something we like to hear, but when you are burning out there is definitely an increase in irrational behavior and I remember being in meetings at work and just feeling like it was me against the world. Every time people were excited about a new project, I would be the negative Nancy sitting there as I just couldn’t handle anymore pressure;
- Disconnection – this is feeling disconnection not only with everyone around you, but more importantly (and the most dangerous) is a disconnection with yourself. You feel like you are just going through the motions and life starts to lose any sense of joy;
- Emotional Overwhelm – I knew there was a problem when the smallest things started to tip me over the edge and sent me into fits of rage, followed by tears, seeing my little one having tantrums now reminds me of those days. Something like not being able to find my house keys was one of those incidences, soon after that I had no other choice but to stop and seek out help.
It is not all doom and gloom; burnout has taught me so much about myself and why I was behaving the way I did. It has also catapulted me to follow my dreams and help others in a way I could never have imagined if I hadn’t experienced it. I can now say from experience that burnout is an amazing teacher if you follow the signs that it leaves you and you do something about it before it goes too far.
There really is more to life than the circles of stress and burn out that we find ourselves going around in. If you feel like you are currently experiencing these signs or others similar to this, please feel free to get in touch to organise a complimentary Stress Awareness Session.
I also have a Facebook Group called, Living on Purpose, where I provide support to like-minded women on how to start living again instead of just going through the motions, if this sounds like it may be of interest you can join here.