The Impact of Burnout Inside and Out

So what should you look out for to know if you are on your way to burnout?

      You’re feeling a lack of energy or a lack of efficiency with the energy you do have

      You’re experiencing a lack of motivation, this can include towards hobbies or experiences that normally bring you happiness

      You’re noticing that you’re making more errors or mistakes; you may not even notice these as they can be subtle or serious mistakes

      No matter how much sleep you get, you feel fatigued. You may even be finding yourself taking more naps to try to mitigate this feeling of fatigue.

      An increase in headaches, irritability and frustration as you get run down

      You may experience an increase in suspicion when you normally wouldn’t

      You may find yourself spending more time working on a task and getting less accomplished 

So you’re feeling these things, but maybe just brushing them off and thinking it’s not affecting you or the people around you that much.  This can lead to serious side effects on your health, mental functions and ultimately, your relationships with others. So let’s have a look at what impact burnout has.

Your physical health can suffer and you can develop health problems, prolonged exposure to chronic stress can lead to cardiovascular issues, compromised immune function, gastrointestinal problems and an increased susceptibility to illness.

Prolonged exposure can lead to an increase in mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. The constant pressure can lead to feelings of helplessness and emotional exhaustion that can lead to the development or increase of mental health conditions.

This can lead to impaired cognitive function for not only your work, but also in your day to day life. It can affect your concentration, productivity, memory, decision making and result in the feeling of ‘brain fog’.

From there, a person can experience decreased control over their life. This can result in decreased job performance or the straining of relationships due to the inability to give the person your full attention.  It may result in becoming irritable, withdrawn, and distant.

These symptoms can lead to adopting a variety of different coping mechanisms to try to get back to a normal life.  However, they are often not addressing the cause of the burnout and lead to further burnout. People can find themselves taking absences from work and events due to not having the mental capacity to continue at the rate they have been. Some even find themselves self-medicating with substances such as alcohol, drugs, or other coping mechanisms that mask the symptoms for a period of time, or make them bearable.

As you can imagine, this can lead to feeling less accomplished and satisfied at work and in their life, leading to a further spiral of burnout symptoms and feelings. Eventually this can lead to compromising their reputation at work and the way that they are perceived by friends and family.  Not addressing the root cause of burnout and ignoring the physical and mental signs, can put a person at risk of developing chronic conditions such as long-term health concerns, including diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

It is crucial to recognise the signs of burnout and take the needed steps to stop it. You can seek support from colleagues, supervisors, mental health professionals, friends and even your family. You may find it useful to start implementing self-care practices, setting realistic goals and establishing healthy work/life boundaries to help prevent burnout from creeping up on you so quickly again.  

These tools will look different from person to person, so if the ones listed don’t work for you, check out our upcoming article on how to prevent burnout.  Or experiment to find what works best for you. Remember, ignoring your burnout will lead to a worse experience both personally and professionally.  It is always smarter to prevent then manage.

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