Some stress is normal in everyday life, and sometimes even healthy, because it can push you to perform at your best. However, there’s also a tipping point where things can quickly become out of control. When the chaos gets to that level, you’re not just stressed, but burned out. If you suspect life is far too hectic lately and it’s having an adverse impact on your health, the information below could help you get answers and solutions.
Common Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout is a type of severe, chronic stress that progressively worsens so you are not able to thrive through life. There are several symptoms, and many of them may overlap, or might not be present all the time. They include:
- Persistent mental and physical fatigue
- Trouble concentrating or remembering things
- Feelings of disillusionment and cynicism
- Lack of drive or inspiration
- Increased frequency of illnesses
- Anxiety that gets worse over time
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
Keep in mind you may not display all the symptoms of burnout. Also, if any of the effects you experience are physical in nature, a medical professional should perform an assessment to make sure there’s not another ailment causing the problems. The same is true if you’re feeling depressed, or so anxious you’re having difficulty functioning. If, after reading over the list above, you’re fairly certain you’re dealing with burnout, there are many things you can start doing right away to ease the symptoms.
Practice Good Stress Management Techniques
One the most proactive things you can do if you're burned out is to adopt worthwhile stress management techniques. Since there’s not a “one-size-fits-all approach", it’ll take time to find out which methods work best for you.
Staying hydrated, eating well, taking time for yourself, exercising and performing breathing exercises are some tried-and-true methods many people use to keep their stress levels as low as possible. Besides doing those healthy things, be careful not to depend on food or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Recognize When You Need Help
People often get burned out because they’re trying to do too much without help. Maybe you’re running yourself ragged shuttling the kids to and from soccer camp, music lessons and dance class, or feeling swamped because you’re taking night classes in a tricky subject while trying to simultaneously maintain a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with a significant other.
These are just two examples, but they, and others like them, could be swiftly resolved by understanding it’s time to get a helping hand with the duties that are making you feel drained. You might need to hire a maid to help with housecleaning once a week, or find it’s necessary to arrange a car pool so another parent can help your child get to some extracurricular activities. There’s certainly no harm in asking for help. Although many people mistakenly see asking for help as a sign of weakness, doing so merely means you’re aware of your limitations.
Keep a Stress Diary
Recovering from burnout is not a quick process, but rather a prolonged journey that sometimes involves a lot of trial and error. That’s because people frequently discover it wasn’t just one or two things that caused them to reach the point of being burned out, but several. If that sounds familiar, start keeping a diary where you record every stressful event experienced.
There are several things you should note when making an entry, such as:
- The time and date of a stressful incident
- The level of productivity you had while the stressful event was occurring (use a numerical scale from 1-10)
- Your mood
- An honest assessment of what triggered the stress
- How you handled the stress
Although there are many components of a stress diary, the final point on that bulleted list is arguably the most important. Learning to keep your stress level down takes time and diligent efforts, but you should soon be able to refer back to your stress diary and determine whether you’re making progress in the ways you cope with stress.
Use or Improve Your Social Support Network
When getting back in the groove after burnout, it’s crucial to lean on the people in your life who have proven they’ll be there through both the bad times and the good. Make regular plans for fun, conversational gatherings, whether they’re evenings out for dinner, or relaxed walks in the park on Saturday afternoons.
You may be dealing with the difficult realization that you don’t have a good social support network. Even so, that doesn’t mean you’re bound to be lonely and socially inept. There are many ways to widen your network of friends, including joining groups for people with similar interests, doing volunteer work or participating in a support group.
Although there isn’t a medical term for feeling burned out, it’s unfortunately becoming a more common scenario as people try to pile more and more things on their agenda. There’s no reason to feel ashamed when recognizing you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too long. The sooner you start to take some of the steps suggested above, the quicker you could bounce back and see your outlook on life brighten as a result.
About the Author
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for "The Drifter Collective." Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.
The Drifter Collective:An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Connect with Kacey on Twitter @kacey_mya and on Pinterest (@kaceymya).