Do you know what burnout is? Of course, you do! Folks, “burnout is real!” So, let’s learn a bit more about it. Before we get to that, however, I’d like to share one of the best definitions of negative stress I’ve heard: “Stress is when the demand exceeds your ability to perform.” I cannot agree more!
Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It can affect anyone but is common among people who work in high-pressure environments, such as healthcare providers, first responders, and corporate professionals.
Some symptoms of burnout (more below) include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness, as well as physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and a weakened immune system. Burnout can also lead to changes in behavior, such as increased absenteeism, increased use of alcohol or drugs, and decreased productivity. Recognize anything yet?
Unchecked, prolonged stress can have serious physical, emotional, and mental ramifications.
Physical negative effects can include:
- Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic pain, such as headaches and back pain
- Weakened immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Skin problems, such as eczema
- Weight gain or loss
Emotional and mental negative effects can include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Anger, irritability, and frustration
- Loss of motivation and interest in activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Increased risk of substance abuse and addiction
Prolonged stress can also affect personal and professional relationships, causing conflicts with loved ones, friends, and colleagues. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can further exacerbate the effects of stress. This, my friends, is when things get really complicated.
It’s important to note that everyone’s threshold for stress is different and the effects of prolonged stress can vary from person to person. If stress is not addressed, and as I wrote earlier, it can lead to chronic health problems and negatively affect the overall quality of life. It is crucial to identify and manage stress in a timely manner before it escalates to these negative consequences. Most people aren’t willing to address early signs and often keep themselves in total denial—sometimes for years or until it’s too late.
Negative stress or distress can come from a variety of sources, such as a heavy workload, tight deadlines, conflicts with colleagues, or a lack of support from management. Burnout can be caused by a lack of control over one’s work, a lack of recognition for one’s contributions, and an absence of opportunities for growth or advancement.
To prevent burnout, it’s crucial to not only recognize the signs but admit that you are experiencing prolonged stress. Only then can you begin recovery by practicing self-care. This can include taking regular breaks, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. It’s also important to set boundaries, such as not obsessively checking emails or text messages outside of working hours and not taking on more responsibilities than you can handle.
You can begin recovery by:
- Exercising (Strength/cardio/flexibility).
- Practicing yoga or meditation.
- Practicing mindfulness.
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Sleeping a minimum of 7 to 8 hours a night.
- Reading motivational or inspirational books.
- Spending more time with friends and family.
- Not taking on more than you can chew.
- Avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
- Agreeing to disagree.
- Being compassionate.
- Responding NOT reacting.
- If you catch yourself arguing, take a few deep breaths and remove yourself until you regain your cool.
- Practicing the art of lovemaking.
- Traveling to exotic places.
Another important aspect of preventing burnout is developing a support system. This can include talking to friends and family, seeking the support of a therapist or counselor, or joining a support group. It’s also important to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
In conclusion, burnout is a serious condition that can have serious and negative consequences if left untreated. So, if you suspect you may experience burnout, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. This can include talking to your employer, your doctor, or a mental health professional. Sometimes, you may need to take a leave of absence from work to allow yourself time to recover. With the right support and care, it is possible to recover from burnout and regain a sense of balance and well-being in your life.
Be well, be strong, and be healthy!
Nordine @Team at InnerFitness®