What does Burnout feel like? 9 physical signs and how to address it

According to recent studies, burnout has been steadily increasing, and job burnout is becoming an acute problem that employers must address in new ways. An Aflac study shared that more than half (59%) of all American workers experience at least moderate levels of burnout, which is up 2 percentage points from August 2020, the peak of pandemic COVID-19.

There are numerous sources and causes of burnout, and each of us has different coping mechanisms and approaches to trying to deal with what feels overwhelming in our lives.

What are the physical and behavioral symptoms of burnout?

Although burnout is often thought of as a psychological phenomenon, it can manifest in a variety of physical and behavioral symptoms that can be both distressing and debilitating.

The Mayo Clinic identifies several common signs of burnout, including:

  1. Headaches and muscle aches
  2. Stomach upset
  3. fatigue
  4. anxiety
  5. Irritability
  6. Lack of focus
  7. Changes in diet and eating habits
  8. Outbursts of anger
  9. Social withdrawal and isolation

Describe the overall root problem of burnout like this:

Humans are not programmed to go through life without rest, solitude or downtime. The past 18 months have brought multiple changes or stressful situations, including the COVID-19 pandemic; economic stress; racial unrest; political division; and environmental disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes. With everything going on, it’s easy to get blindsided by stress and exhaustion. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms and recognize when your responsibilities are becoming too much to handle. Burnout is not a medical diagnosis, but is generally a feeling of low energy or exhaustion due to ongoing stress.

Together, many of these situations feel unfamiliar and cause anxiety. Burnout can be caused by a myriad of events, factors and situations, including professional stress, parental challenges and anxieties, and other pressures from different aspects of our lives, where we lack the coping mechanisms, the knowledge, learning and support network to address this kind of ongoing stress and mental strain.

Key steps to help address burnout in your life

In my time as a therapist and in working with thousands of professionals to deal with the new stressors they face, I have observed four instrumental steps that allow us to more clearly understand what is contributing to our burnout and gain greater control over how we react to them. pressures

1. Gain greater awareness to have greater choice

We cannot change what we do not understand. Take a step back and think about what makes you most stressed, anxious (or depressed) right now. Try to identify what has changed in your life over the past few months and how these changes have directly affected you.

For stressors that generally feel out of your control (such as climate change, war, political division, etc.), you have developed new coping habits and rituals that allow you to manage anxiety and fear more effectively? If not, what can you try in terms of new and enriching activities that give you the space, joy and relaxation you need?

For stressors within your control, such as the amount of work you try to do each day at your job, what steps you can take to deal with work overwhelm (such as: talk to your boss about workload and deadlines, participate in your employer’s EAP program for therapeutic support, join a support group in your community, or take some time to recharge your batteries.)

2. Take advantage of your body’s unique language and what it’s trying to tell you

As a therapist, I learned this your body says what your lips cannot. Often, our burnout comes from situations we simply don’t feel ready to tackle or are too embarrassed to face or talk about. But keeping quiet and bottling up our problems and pressures and not taking new action to address them usually makes things worse.

As a personal example of this, often when I’m engaged in a conversation and my heart starts beating very fast, it’s a clear sign that I’m getting angry and there’s something essential I need to communicate, but I’m having a hard time (or it’s scary) to say it. Now, when that happens, I know I have to speak up.

Dr. Neha Sangwan, CEO and founder of Intuitive Intelligence, and internal medicine physician and author of Developed by me: from burnt out to fully charged in work and lifeshared this about exhaustion:

Learn to interpret the unique physical signals (eg heartbeat, throat constriction, muscle contraction, stomach turning, etc.) that your body is sending you. (See Sangwans Body Map Tool.)

He adds a caveat that it’s important to have any physical symptoms checked by a medical professional first and then consider other potential causes.

3. Take control of what you can control and build stronger boundaries

I’ve seen a dramatic increase among my career and leadership coaching clients in a phenomenon I call perfectionist overfunctioning, which is doing more than is healthy, appropriate, and necessary and trying to get an A+ on it all. This is a major contributor to burnout, affecting women in particular and exacerbating the damaging impostor syndrome experienced by a staggering 75% of female executives today.

This behavior often leads to relentless stress, burnout, anxiety, lack of confidence and burnout, and the feeling that whatever we do, it’s never enough.

A key step in overcoming perfectionist over-functioning is to gain more confidence and strengthen our boundaries (the invisible barriers between you and your external systems).

Stronger, healthier boundaries ensure that:

  • Experience greater self-recognition, self-mastery and self-esteem
  • Understand and clearly articulate to others the healthy boundaries you have set for yourself
  • Safely determine what actions you will take when your boundaries have been violated (and get outside help for this when you need it)
  • Break away from your work in different ways (such as socializing with friends, engaging in fun activities with your family, watching a movie or spending time in nature, and reconnecting with hobbies you once enjoyed liked), to remind you that you are not your job. they are much more than what you do for a living.

As a first step, take stock of where your boundaries need strengthening now and commit to having the most important conversation you’ve been putting off, one that will help you assert a healthier boundary and make it clear what you need and deserve from others . .

4. Build a strong support community to help

Finally, when we were struggling, overwhelmed, and exhausted, we usually can’t fix the problem on our own.

As Einstein said, we cannot solve a problem at the level of consciousness that created it.

We need the support of others to see our situations differently and access new solutions and approaches that we haven’t tried. And according to the longest-ever study of human happiness, the main conclusion was that close relationships and social connections are crucial to our well-being as we age. Having supportive and nurturing relationships buffers against life’s stress and protects overall health.

Reach out today to good friends, family, mentors, and others in your life who can offer help to ease your burden. And it may be time for great therapeutic help to allow you to talk through your challenges and feelings of stress, depression, and overwhelm (and guilt or shame), to come up with new solutions and perspectives.

Recognizing the key roots of your burnout and identifying new steps to shift your approach to addressing your stressors more productively can lead to a new way of living that values ​​you and your health, and fosters greater connection with others, with improved well-being. both in life and at work.

Kathy Caprino is one career and leadership coach, author of The most powerful youi coach help professionals generate trust and impact.

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Image Source : www.forbes.com

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