Burnout is something that can sneak up on you. You start off excited, motivated, and passionate about a new job, project, or activity. Then as time goes along, you realize that you are lacking motivation and may feel not just physically tired, but mentally and even emotionally tired more frequently than normal. You realize that your work-life balance is off, your stress levels have gone up, and what you once had a strong passion for, may be the very thing you now dread doing every day. Could it be that you are heading toward burnout?
Here are some warning signs that you may be reaching burnout:
- Feeling exhausted. This can be the frequent or constant feeling of being physically, mentally, or emotionally tired. You come home feeling spent or drained. You just want to flop down on the couch and do nothing.
- Feeling unmotivated. The lack of motivation leaves you feeling less than enthusiastic to tackle any task you have to accomplish. You may find that getting up and out of the house difficult. You often are late for work and may find ways to leave early.
- Loss of concentration and focus. Your brain seems to be working slower. You feel foggy and keep making little mistakes or find that you are becoming forgetful. You lack focus and no longer pay close attention to the details.
- You have become cynical and pessimistic. You start to find the negatives in everything, when you used to focus on the positives. You may even criticize what you are doing or feel that what you are doing is insignificant or unimportant. You start to ask the question, “does it even matter”?
- You bring it home with you. When you get home, you are still thinking about it, allowing it to consume you in your down time. It starts to overflow into your personal life, causing more stress and even strain on yourself and loved ones.
- Insomnia. When you bring your work, worries, and stresses home, they can keep you up at night. You are so tired, but falling asleep and/or staying asleep at night becomes more and more difficult.
- Physical illnesses creep up. You may notice that you get headaches more often, feel nauseas, have gastrointestinal issues, feel dizzy or faint. You may also start to get sick more often or that the cold or flu seems to last longer than normal for you.
- Poor self-care. You stop taking care of yourself. You find that you are eating either less or are eating more junk foods than you used to eat. You would rather spend time on the couch than doing activities or working out, and you may even find that you are drinking more often or using drugs (recreational or over the counter), to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day.
- You’ve become withdrawn. You no longer want to go out or meet up with friends or family. Social commitments are something you find yourself avoiding and come up with excuse to not attend events. You find that you would rather spend time by yourself then surround yourself with people you used to enjoy being around.
- Quick to anger or to cry. You may notice that you are more easily irritated by situations and people around you. You may start to express anger more often and let your frustrations out on others. You may also notice that you are on the verge of tears or find yourself crying more readily than normal. Your emotions have you on edge.
Burnout can happen to anyone; however, it is more likely to happen to those who have more of a Type A personality, the overachievers, the perfectionists, the workaholics. Sometimes the most passionate people tend to burn the candle at both ends, and this can lead to burnout if they are not careful. Pay attention to the warning signs. Burnout does not happen suddenly or overnight. Any of the above may start off small or infrequent, but with time, they can become more chronic and leave you feeling burned out both professionally and personally.
Are you feeling like you are beginning to go down the path of burnout? My next blog will talk about what to do if you are and how to help prevent burnout from happening to you. Stay tuned.