Signs Of Burnout And How You Can Manage It

It has been almost a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of people have continued to work or study from home during this time and the lines between professional and personal life have slowly become blurred. As a result, a lot of people are now starting to feel the impact of managing their work, studies, parenting and home-schooling non-stop for the last year.

In short, a lot of people are suffering from “Burnout“!

What is burnout?

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel tired, overwhelmed, emotionally drained, fatigued and unable to meet constant demands. The term “Burnout” was first used in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger, in his book, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. He defined burnout as:

The extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.

What causes burnout?

Burnout can be caused by a variety of factors but is often associated mainly with job stress or increased demands at home, work or school. The causes for burnout can mainly be categorized as follows:

– Job or work-related stress caused by increased demands or workload from managers
– Academic or study-related stress
– Parental responsibilities resulting in increased time pressures
– Excess social media usage causing over-stimulation due to constant bombardment of photos, articles and information

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Photo from Pexels

Signs of burnout

Whatever the reason may be, there are some signs of burnout that we should all be wary of so that we can manage ourselves before our stress levels reach a critical level:

Physical signs
– Feeling tired and exhausted all the time
– Getting sick often
– Frequent headaches or muscle pain
– Change in appetite
– Changes in sleeping patterns

Emotional signs
– Sense of failure or self-doubt
– Feeling helpless or trapped
– Feeling alone in the world
– Loss of motivation
– Having a negative outlook towards the world

Behavioral signs
– Avoiding responsibilities
– Distancing yourself from family and friends
– Procrastinating with work, studies or other task
– Taking longer to get things done
– Use of food, drugs or alcohol to help cope
– Being frustrated with others

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Photo from Pexels

How to manage burnout

If not managed properly, burnout can affect our long-term mental health. Therefore, it is important to pause and take action to deal with burnout and the factors causing it. Here are some tips:

Identify the problem and be honest with your self:
It is important to understand the reasons causing the burnout and distress. Once you know the cause, you can take the necessary action to rectify the situation. It is also important to be honest with yourself about the issues you are facing and not try to avoid or brush them away.

Learn to say ‘No’:
Too often we take on a lot of work and responsibilities which cause us to burnout. In order to manage our time and mental health, maybe saying no would be the best thing to do.

Understand what you can and cannot control:
Sometimes we cannot control a situation but we can control how we react to it. It is important to know the distinction. Stressing about things that we cannot control inevitably leads to more stress and eventual burnout.

There are things in your life which you are in control of, and those you’re not. You need to not care about those things which you’re not in control of, and when you come to really understand that, you can go from being really upset about something to that lovely feeling of being a kid where everything is okay.

Derren Brown

Do things you love:
Whether you enjoy reading, writing, walking, jogging or listening to music, doing the things you love can help you to relax and manage your stress levels better.

Talk to friends, family or colleagues:
Talking to the people you love can often give you a fresh perspective on things when you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Also, if you are suffering from job stress, you can also turn to other colleagues to help lessen the burden by delegating some tasks.

Avoid negativity and protect your energy:
Negative thoughts and negative people sap our energy. So it is best to try and cut the negativity out of your life in order to protect yourself and your mental wellbeing.

Set boundaries:
Setting boundaries is very important specially in a time when our work and home life have become merged because of the pandemic. You need to set time aside everyday to help yourself unwind and relax so set your limits and don’t try to take on that extra task when you know you won’t be able to deliver it!

Speak to a therapist:
If all else fails and you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or burnt out for an extended period of time then talk to a therapist for help.

Take a break from social media:
Sometimes taking a break from social media and avoiding the constant consumption of information can help you to de-stress.

Get plenty of sleep:
We all need sleep to function properly. Sometimes a good night’s sleep can give you a good energy boost to tackle the issues that may be causing you to burnout.

It is no secret that exercising can help to improve your mood. Exercising regularly can help manage your stress levels and help tackle your burnout.


This article was originally published in The Accountant’s Diary on February 10, 2021.

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