It is a state of chronic stress that feels like a hazard and is mostly experienced by passionate high-achievers. Working with heavy workloads and exceptionally long hours constantly can put great pressure on you leading to full-fledged burnout. And soon you start to feel that you can’t function properly any longer, whether in your career or your personal life.
“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” – Michael Gungor
However, this does not occur out of the blue. Our mind and body often send us signals and warnings that something is wrong. All we need to do is pay attention before it’s too late.
“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. False optimism is like administrating stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.” – Sam Keen
The emotionally intelligent way to avoid burning out
Even the best jobs can lead to burnout. The harder you work and the more motivated you are to succeed, the easier it is to get in over your head.
The prevalence of burnout is increasing as technology further blurs the line between work and home. New research from the American Psychological Association and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reported the following:
- 48% of Americans experienced increased stress over the past 5 years
- 31% of employed adults have difficulty managing their work and family responsibilities
- 53% say work leaves them “overtired and overwhelmed.”
A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll found that “burnout from my current job” was one of the top reasons that people quit.
Burnout can get the better of you, even when you have a great passion for your work. Arianna Huffington experienced this first hand when she almost lost an eye from burnout. She was so tired at work that she passed out, hitting her face on her desk. She broke her cheekbone and had to get four stitches on her eye.
“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance, but performance is also actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder, and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout, and exhaustion.” – Arianna Huffington
Burn out often results from a misalignment of input and output; you get burnt out when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it. Sometimes this happens when a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Before you can treat and even prevent burnout, you need to recognize the warning signs so that you’ll know when it’s time to take action. Here they are, in no particular order.
Ten Signs You’re Burning Out
1. Health problems.
Burnout has a massive, negative impact on your physical and mental health. Whether you’re experiencing back pain, depression, heart disease, obesity, or you’re just getting sick a lot, you need to consider the role your work is playing in this. You’ll know when burnout is affecting your health, and you’ll just have to decide whether your approach to work is worth the consequences.
2. Cognitive difficulties.
Research shows that stress hammers the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function. Executive function impacts your memory, decision-making abilities, emotional control, and focus. When you notice that you’re making silly mistakes, forgetting important things, having outbursts of emotion, or making poor decisions, you’re likely burning out.