Signs you might be experiencing a burnout and how to regain balance in your life

Read time

Image for Signs you might be experiencing a burnout and how to regain balance in your life

Your mental wellbeing is the unique way that you handle your emotions, respond to stress, and is determined by your general outlook on life.  Research supports the idea that having a healthy sense of mental wellbeing has many benefits.  It allows us to experience enjoyment in life, promotes resilience in difficult situations, set and fulfil goals, as well as build and maintain relationships.

Stress, however, is a normal part of life.  No matter how much we may wish for a stress-free life, stress is a natural human response that is necessary and ever present. In small amounts, stress (such as having a deadline) can improve mental wellbeing, by boosting productivity, alertness, and energy levels.  However, when our experience of stress becomes prolonged or greater than our ability to cope with, it can be physically and mentally draining. Chronic stress can have overwhelming consequences on your mind and body.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.  If you are experiencing burnout, you may notice it is difficult to engage in activities you normally find meaningful.  You may no longer care about the things that are important to you or experience an increasing sense of hopelessness.

Signs and symptoms of burnout may include:

Physical symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches/intestinal issues
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent illness
  • Changes in appetite/sleep.

Emotional symptoms

  • Helplessness
  • Cynicism
  • Sense of failure or self-doubt
  • Decreased satisfaction
  • Feeling detached or alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation.

Behavioural signs

  • Reduced performance in everyday tasks
  • Withdrawal or isolation
  • Procrastination
  • Outbursts
  • Using substances to cope.

Causes of Burnout

Burnout is not caused solely by stressful work environments or too many responsibilities.  It can be experienced by anyone with prolonged levels of chronic stress and pressure causing overwhelm as work or home demands.

Factors that contribute to burnout include:

Work-related causes

  • Having little or no control over your work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Overly demanding job expectations
  • Monotonous or unchallenging work
  • Chaotic or high-pressure environment.

Lifestyle causes

  • Working too much, without socialising or relaxing
  • Lack of close, supportive relationships
  • Too many responsibilities, without enough help
  • Not enough sleep.

Personality traits

  • Perfectionistic tendencies
  • Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
  • Need to be in control
  • High achieving in nature.

Regaining balance in your life

Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout.  If you recognize some of these warning signs starting to creep into your life or may already be present, finding ways to regain a sense of well-being again may include:

  • Turn to other people for support: friends, colleagues, or community groups
  • Reframe the way you look at work or your home life by finding value, meaning and balance
  • Reevaluate your priorities by taking time off or regular breaks during the day
  • Nourishing your creativity by doing something interesting
  • Make physical activity a priority to boost your mood and energy
  • Support your body with a healthy diet and quality sleep.

Taking a few moments each day to nurture your mental wellbeing will help you be a happier and more resilient you.  You deserve the best possible you!

Where can I get further help?

Speaking to your local GP or mental health service is a good start.

There are also online support services available where you can speak with a trained professional 24 hours a day by telephone and via online chat.