This year, anxiety is brought to the forefront of Mental Health Awareness Month. Everyone can feel anxious from time to time, but if the feeling is ignored, it can lead to serious mental and physical illnesses over time, such as heart disease, insomnia, or depression.
For Mental Health Awareness Month 2023, our focus will be on illuminating the complexities of anxiety, sharing, and exploring effective strategies to manage it, and delving into the phenomenon of burnout and its contributing factors as it is one of the main causes of anxiety, that we will tackle in detail in this post.
What is burnout?
Burnout refers to the state of experiencing emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to prolonged and excessive stress. When individuals feel overwhelmed, their motivation and enthusiasm decline, decreasing productivity and fostering a sense of helplessness, hopelessness, cynicism, and resentment.
The phenomenon is also one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety if left untreated. Thus, it is crucial to recognise the symptoms as soon as possible to prevent it.
# Signs and symptoms of burnout
The impact of burnout is not limited to the workplace; it can easily affect personal life and social relationships, as well as compromise physical well-being.
There are days when many of us experience feelings of helplessness, being overwhelmed or underappreciated — when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. However, if these sentiments persist most of the time, you may be burned out.
Burnout is a gradual process. It does not happen overnight, but it can creep up on you. Initially, the signs and symptoms may be subtle but intensify over time. Think of the early symptoms as red flags that something is wrong that needs to be addressed. One can prevent a major breakdown by paying attention to and proactively managing stress. If you ignore them, you will eventually burn out.
Physical signs and symptoms of burnout
- 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 of burnout
- 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.
Behavioural signs and symptoms of burnout
- Withdrawing from responsibilities.
- Isolating from others.
- Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done.
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope.
- Taking frustrations out on others.
- Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.
Individuals experiencing burnout may also have trouble concentrating, experience insomnia or other sleep disorders, and may withdraw from social activities or work responsibilities.
Burnout is often a result of chronic stress that is not adequately managed, and it can have severe consequences if left untreated. Aside from the potential mental health disorders it can trigger, burnout can also contribute to physical health issues such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Preventing burnout involves developing healthy coping strategies for managing stress*, setting realistic goals and priorities, and engaging in activities promoting relaxation and self-care. If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, it is vital to seek assistance from a healthcare professional or mental health provider.
Most importantly, do not be so hard on yourself; take time to wind down and gather your thoughts – there is no project more important than your health.
* Please note that these suggestions are solely our recommendations and do not constitute medical advice. If you require professional assistance, please get in touch with a mental health professional.