Work and life, in general, can feel pretty stressful and overwhelming at times. But if you experience these feelings regularly, you could be putting yourself at risk for burnout. Mental and physical exhaustion, or burnout, can negatively affect your life and overall well-being. However, the signs and symptoms of this condition are not always clear. For this reason, we have gathered some tips on how to recognize and beat burnout. Continue reading to learn more. 

What is Burnout?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) defines burnout as physical and mental exhaustion leading to reduced ability to cope with your environment. For instance, those experiencing this condition will start to feel tired, frustrated, helpless or receive less pleasure from work or other responsibilities. 

Burnout is a chronic condition that you should deal with immediately, as it does not go away on its own. If you do not get help, it can lead to physical and psychological problems such as depression, heart disease and diabetes. 

What Are the Risk Factors? 

Burnout is often associated with the workplace. Those in helping professions (like healthcare workers) or business careers are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Additionally, those that work at home can experience burnout, especially if they feel isolated from co-workers or feel the need to be constantly available. 

Some risk factors that can lead to burnout at work can include: 

  • Unreasonable time pressure requirements
  • Lack of communication from management
  • Lack of support from management
  • No role clarity
  • Heavy workload
  • Unfair treatment at work

Certain personality traits can also make someone susceptible to burnout. They include:

  • Needing to be in control
  • Perfectionism
  • Having a “Type A” personality

However, anyone can experience burnout. Keep in mind that burnout does not have to stem from a particular profession. Parents, partners and non-professional caregivers can experience this condition as well. 

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms?

Burnout does not happen immediately; it occurs gradually. Thus, knowing some of the physical, emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms of this condition will make it easier to spot early. 

The physical signs and symptoms of burnout can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Frequent headaches or muscle aches
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Sense of failure

The emotional signs and symptoms of burnout can include:

  • Helplessness
  • Detachment
  • Lack of motivation
  • Negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction

The behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout can include: 

  • Withdrawal from responsibilities
  • Isolation from others
  • Using food, drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Irritability
  • Skipping work or being late for work

Is There a Difference Between Burnout and Stress?

Yes, there is a difference between burnout and stress. While these conditions may sound similar, they are very different. HelpGuide explains that while stress is characterized by “too much,” burnout is characterized by “not enough.” For example, if someone is stressed, they will over-engage. However, if someone has burnout, they will disengage. You can view a chart detailing the differences between the two conditions here

If you think you may be suffering from chronic stress, check out our blog, Stress Management, to learn about some of the ways you can reduce your stress and return to a healthier lifestyle. 

How Can You Beat Burnout? 

The good news is that burnout is not permanent. If you are proactive, seek help and take the proper steps, this condition is reversible and preventable. 

  • Set boundaries: Setting firm boundaries is crucial to avoiding career burnout, especially if you work at home. If you work remotely, only allow yourself to be contacted during certain times of the day (versus 24/7), work in a quiet area where you can isolate yourself from family members, and do not be afraid to say “no.”
  • Exercise: Exercise helps to improve both your physical and emotional health. If you are pressed for time, even taking a short 10-minute walk can help to boost your mood and give you a much-needed break!
  • Consume a balanced diet: The foods we eat can directly alter our mental state. Avoid sugars, refined carbs and caffeine. Try consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like flaxseed, walnuts and fish) instead. 
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol: While smoking or drinking alcohol may initially seem calming, these habits can lead to heightened anxiety and cause other serious, long-term issues.  
  • Practice good sleep habits: If we do not get enough sleep, our minds and bodies will not function properly. The National Sleep Foundation recommends healthy before-bed habits like avoiding caffeine, bright lights and electronic devices before bedtime to ensure a good night’s rest. 
  • Ask for help: If you are struggling with burnout, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help! Speaking with family, friends or a behavioral health professional can allow you to work through whatever struggles you are facing.

We Can Help You | Seneca Health Services

Burnout should not control your life. While this condition will not go away on its own, it is reversible. So if you think you are suffering from burnout, let one of our behavioral health professionals at Seneca Health Services help you. 

Our therapy professionals help patients cope with significant problems that they are facing. A trained therapist will guide interactions in a setting that encourages reflection, accountability, empathy and positive communication skills. And when a patient enters our therapy services, they will discover compassion, companionship, understanding and much more. 

If you need help or have questions about burnout, do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here

Greenbrier County, West Virginia: (304) 497-0500

Nicholas County, West Virginia: (304) 872-2659

Pocahontas County, West Virginia: (304) 799-6865

Webster County, West Virginia: (304) 847-5425