Managing and Preventing Burnout

What is Burnout?

How often do you check the clock or your phone while you’re at work? Does it feel like you’re constantly waiting for the day to be over? We all have those days, but if this is an everyday routine for you, you could be experiencing burnout. Burnout is a form of mental, emotional, and even physical exhaustion. The root cause of this exhaustion is typically prolonged stress and taking on more than we can handle at once. If you’re feeling this way, you should know it’s not your fault. It’s common in this modern world to feel a pressure to be productive all day, every day. Unfortunately, this is an impossible standard to uphold. We aren’t built to be indefinitely on the go.

Ignoring the signs of burnout can lead to significant consequences, including anxiety and depression. The most common type of burnout is workplace burnout, but burnout can be activated by any part of your life that causes long-term stress. It’s important to understand and recognize what the signs are so we can take action.  If you find yourself in a constant state of mental and physical exhaustion, it might be time to reach out for help. We are here for you at our office in Southlake, TX, or you can schedule a teletherapy appointment.

 

What Are Common Signs of Burnout?

Apathy and Disconnection

Those who feel burnt out have a hard time maintaining personal relationships and showing empathy for others. Typically, they can’t find the motivation to do their work, and everything feels useless or futile.

Constant Exhaustion

Being tired is normal. If it feels nearly impossible to get out of bed every single day, and simple tasks feel like major burdens, this is a sign of exhaustion and burnout. We reach this state of exhaustion when we’ve taken on too much for too long.

Lack of Focus

Burnout can be damaging to our brains. It’s been shown that people with burnout show similar brain damage to those who experience trauma. This decrease in cognitive flexibility leads to memory problems and struggles concentrating on daily tasks.

Irritability and Cynicism

You might find yourself being extra critical of those around you and little things seem to set you off. A little negativity is healthy. It becomes a problem when it interferes with your life on a daily basis.

 

Daily Habits That Perpetuate Cycles of Burnout

Burnout doesn’t occur out of nowhere. It’s something that builds up over time. While some external stressors are out of our control, the habits we personally partake in can often become a cocktail for stress when you put them together. Here are just a few lifestyle habits that can contribute to burnout.

 

Managing and Preventing Burnout

Symptoms of burnout can range from mild to extreme, so managing it will look different for each person. Despite that, there are 3 habits everyone should implement into their lives for a stronger sense of well-being.

Intentional Rest

Too often we make a habit of waiting until we’re completely exhausted before we allow ourselves take a break. This is due to our over-prioritization of productivity and “getting things done”. We end up seeing our daily lives as one long to-do list and eventually we hit a wall. Balance is important. Instead of waiting for your body and mind to collapse, make rest a part of your “productivity” and schedule it in. When we allow ourselves the space and time to “do nothing”, it’s acts as one big exhale for our body and our mind. This doesn’t have to take up a major chunk of your day. Even 10 minutes of intentional relaxation will help you feel more at ease and in control of your day.

Mindful Self Compassion

A lot of times we find ourselves burnt out because we expect to perform at the same pace that we did the day before. This concept ignores the fact that you’re human and we all have good and bad days. It’s good to challenge yourself, but it’s also good to learn what it looks like when you’ve hit your limit. And when you do hit that limit, give yourself the grace to slow down and take it easy. Research shows that self-criticism has an opposing effect, and we end up even less motivated to show up. If you wouldn’t talk to your friend the same way you do to yourself, consider being a little more kind.

Set Boundaries

This is a big one. Since burnout most often shows up when we stretch ourselves too thin, it’s incredibly important that we establish boundaries with people. Burnout at work is a common result of giving people the impression that they can reach us at any time. It’s possible that you’re afraid of disappointing them and so you’ve built up a habit of saying yes to everything. Boundaries are not a bad thing. In fact, boundaries are a form of communication and ultimately strengthen our relationships. When we learn where our boundaries are and implement them, we also end up with more energy throughout our day.

 

Need Help?

Overlooking burnout won’t make it go away and puts you at greater risk for anxiety and depression. If you’re already experiencing the extremes of burnout, please don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

 

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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