Burnout is the state of mind that comes with long-term, unresolved stress that can negatively affect your work and your life. Burnout can affect anyone at any time in their lives. In the last year however, this phenomenon has become even more common and difficult to cope with. In order to cope with burnout, first it’s important to recognize when you might be experiencing it. From there, you can begin tackling how to achieve the work-life balance you deserve.
5 Stages of Burnout
- Honeymoon phase
In the honeymoon phase, you begin experiencing predicted levels of stress. This is the phase where stress is induced more by the excitement of the task at hand. You’ve taken the initiative to take on new responsibilities and this is encouraging for your career.
Symptoms include: the compulsion to prove yourself, uncurbed optimism, and eagerness to accept responsibility.
- Onset of stress
The second stage of burnout is the phase where you start to recognize that some days are more difficult than others. You may notice your optimism is beginning to fade and your symptoms are more present physically and mentally.
Symptoms include: fatigue, anxiety, forgetfulness, neglect of personal needs, lack of sleep, and irritability.
- Chronic stress
The third stage is marked by a more dramatic shift in your stress levels. The stress you feel is no longer from a source of motivation and is so frequent that it interferes with your daily life.
Symptoms include: chronic exhaustion, feeling out of control, increased caffeine, alcohol, or drug consumption, and denial of problems at work or at home.
Burnout itself is where the symptoms you experience become critical. Your tolerance for these symptoms make it increasingly difficult to cope.
Symptoms include: chronic headaches or stomach problems, obsessing over problems at work or in life, feeling empty inside, self-doubt, and social isolation.
- Habitual burnout
The final stage of burnout indicates that the symptoms you feel are so common, they become embedded in your regular life. The stress feels ongoing and endless, a constant presence that you can’t seem to fight.
Symptoms include: chronic mental fatigue, chronic physical fatigue, and depression.
5 Ways to Cope
- Try relaxation techniques
Prioritize your mental health and make relaxation a part of your routine. Take up yoga, try breathing techniques, or practice meditation.
- Get some sleep
Sleep is essential for restoring your health. Making mindfulness a part of your nighttime routine is a huge step in accomplishing better sleep. Unplug or put on a soothing playlist, take L-Theanine, and let your mind take a break from the outside world.
- Move your body
Breaking a sweat is a great way to relieve stress and work through your emotions. Even if the last thing you want to do is workout, there are ways to get your body moving in order to feel better.
- Evaluate your options
If you find yourself in the later stages of burnout, what can you do to make a change? Can you talk to someone about changing your schedule, workload, or adjusting your responsibilities? Think about your specific concerns and what options can be explored to address them. Know your worth and keep your eyes open for opportunities that value work-life balance!
- Seek support
Whether it be coworkers, family, friends, or a therapist - talking to someone about what’s going on can help you to cope. Ultimately, your loved ones will want what’s best for you, it’s important to be reminded that it’s okay to prioritize your needs before your job responsibilities.