Burnout – are you experiencing it?

November 2 was National Stress Awareness day in the UK. One of the posts I saw was on the topic of burnout. It turns out that burnout is very common. A 2020 Gallup survey found that almost 8 out of every 10 people report that they have experienced burnout of varying severity.

I include myself as one of those eight.

I experienced burnout several times

During my accounting career, I experienced burnout several times thanks to crazy, long hours in the office, working under excessive pressure, combined with inadequate exercise, nutrition and sleep.

I recall that my worst experience of burnout was while working for an accountancy firm in London. I was trying to fit in a 60-hour working week with 20 hours of study per week. Back then, I didn’t realize I was experiencing burnout. I just felt exhausted and numb most of the time. I found temporary relief in alcohol and junk food. Fortunately, a planned return to NZ saved me, just in time, from plunging right over the edge. Some people aren’t so fortunate.

What causes burnout?

Chronic stress causes burnout.

Stress becomes chronic when we experience it constantly over a period and stress hormones accumulate in our body. This chronic stress adversely affects our digestive system, our immune system, our blood pressure, and more.

Burnout creeps up on us

We don’t experience burnout suddenly. It’s a gradual process.

As our chronic stress builds so we edge ever closer to burn out. This subtle, slow increase over time makes it difficult to recognize. Still, our body raises some red flags, and if you know what to look for, you can spot them before it’s too late.

What are the red flags?

The following four symptoms characterize burnout:

1. physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. You feel extremely tired; you have a short temper or feel irritable, you’re easily upset or moved to tears, you may worry constantly about things that aren’t important.

2. cynicism or depersonalisation. You think: “What’s the point?”

3. feelings of detachment. You’ve become increasingly less involved and more distant from family, friends, work colleagues and activities you used to enjoy engaging in.

4. a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. You question your ability to get work done, make decisions, and take responsibility. There’s a sense of hopelessness, problems seem insurmountable. The future looks bleak.

Let’s drill down a little more.

Here are ten signs you are experiencing chronic stress and/or burnout

(source: Dr David Ballard, American Psychological Association):

  • Physical symptoms – feel drained most of the time
  • Cognitive symptoms – unable to pay attention or concentrate, more forgetful, difficulty remembering things.
  • Emotional symptoms – blunted emotions, there’s a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Frustration, cynicism, and other negative emotions
  • Deterioration in job performance/productivity
  • Interpersonal problems at work and home
  • Not taking care of yourself
  • Being preoccupied with work … when you’re not at work
  • Overall decreased satisfaction with your life

Important: If you believe you’re experiencing burnout, I recommend you consult your doctor or an appropriate health professional.

What is the impact of experiencing burnout?

Experiencing burnout affects how you think, feel and behave, which can put your relationships, your job and your health at serious risk.

So how do you avoid and/or recover from chronic stress burnout?

To avoid and or recover from chronic stress/burnout, you need to:

  • Meet your physical and emotional needs
  • Perform under pressure
  • Cope with stress
  • Be resilient

To learn more about:

  • your emotional needs –  click here.
  • performing under pressure  – click here.
  • coping with stress – click here.
  • resilience – click here.

Burnt out? Need help? Reach out.

I help people experiencing chronic stress and burnout to recover and develop the skills to remain free of stress in future. If you are one of those people then let’s talk. Explore how I can help you and how. Contact me on 021 056 8389 or email me at tony@tycoaching.nz.

If you’re ready to take action now simply click on this Book Now button and schedule a free no obligation consult call with me.

Go well

I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz