Constant stress at home or in the workplace can lead to feeling helpless, disillusioned, and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout.  

Burnout is becoming more common, as the stresses of life can take a serious toll on your body and mind. But what exactly is burnout? And what can we do to prevent it? 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role. 

Without treatment, burnout can cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses likes colds and fly. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout as soon as possible 

Signs and Symptoms  

As burnout is a stressor on the mind and body, it’s a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can creep up on you. The signs and symptoms are subtle at first, but become worse as time goes on.  

Physical Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time.  
  • Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses.  
  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain.  
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits.  

Emotional signs and symptoms  

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt.  
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.  
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world.  
  • Loss of motivation.  
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook. 
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. 

Behavioral signs and symptoms  

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities. 
  • Isolating yourself from others. 
  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done.  
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope.  
  • Taking out your frustrations on others 
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early. 

Dealing with Burnout 

Whether you recognise the warning signs of impending burnout or you’re already past the breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. 

Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout and feel healthy and positive again.  

  1. When in doubt, turn to other people. Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress and talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. 
  1. Limit your contact with negative people. Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook.  
  1. Try to find some value in your work. Even in some mundane jobs, you can often focus on how your role helps others, for example, or provides a much-needed product or service. Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy.  
  1. Find balance in your life. If you hate your job, look for meaning and satisfaction elsewhere in your life: in your family, friends, hobbies, or voluntary work.  
  1. Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence, anything to remove yourself from the situation.  
  1. Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking emails or social media.  
  1. Set aside relaxation time. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.  
  1. Get plenty of sleep. Feeling tried can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool in stressful situations by getting a good night’s sleep.  

If you’re working on the steps to decrease your burnout and find that you’re unable to switch off, there are options including speaking with your local GP or calling mental health hotlines.  

Lifeline: 13 11 14 

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636