What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. As explained by Harvard Business Review, there are three dimensions to burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. You start to experience these three dimensions when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, or unable to meet constant demands. Common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
  • Diminished pride in your work
  • Losing sight of yourself and your goals
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships and being present with loved ones
  • Frustration and irritability with co-workers or family members
  • Unexplained muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomnia
  • Headaches, stomachaches and intestinal issues

COIVD-19 and Burnout

In a recent study from FlexJobs and Mental Health America (MHA), it was discovered that 75% of workers have experienced burnout, and 40% of those polled said it was a direct result of the pandemic. In addition to COVID-19, the following stressors were also found to be a cause of burnout among respondents:

  • Personal finances
  • Current events/news
  • Concern over family’s health
  • The economy
  • Job responsibilities

If you think you may be experiencing burnout, it is important to understand these symptoms will not go away on their own. To prevent burnout from negatively affecting your home life, professional life, and your health, the proper steps must be taken to recover.

How to Recover from Burnout

The first step in recovering from burnout is recognizing the signs. If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, it is time to take action. Follow these tips to help you begin recovering from burnout:

  • Find the Source: Exploring contributing factors or sources of stress in your life can help you determine what changes you need to make. Your stressor may be obvious, or you may need to sit down and really think about what is causes you to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Identify Quick Changes: Once you have determined your stressors, identify what changes you can make right now to help reduce your stress levels. Is there something you can reschedule to reduce your work load? Can a co-worker help with a project, or can. family member help with home chores? Are you able to add in workout days? Is there something you can start doing at night to help you relax, such as journaling, drawing or reading?
  • Talk to Someone You Trust: Admitting you have burnout may not be easy, but expressing your feelings to someone you can trust can help you feel supported and less alone. They can also help you brainstorm a recovery plan.
  • Take Back Control: In your home and professional life, it is important to set boundaries. Prioritize what is most important, delegate task and ask for help when you need it, and be aware of your needs.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Think about how you react if a friend or family member confided in your about being burnt-out. You would most likely offer empathy and kindness. Offer this to yourself as well. Ignore negative thoughts about failure or weakness, and instead remind yourself it is okay to not be perfect. Make your mental and physical health a priority and be kind to yourself as you recover.
  • Find Happiness: Think about what truly makes you happy. It could be anything from your family to your favorite hobby. Regardless of what it is, make time for happiness everyday. It will give you something to look forward to and boost your mood.
  • Reevaluate: Do some soul searching and ask yourself why you took this job and why you set the goals for yourself that you are trying to accomplish. Your point of view and goals change overtime, so you may realize that reevaluating these things and rediscovering your “why” can give you a boost in motivation and purpose.

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