Here’s a hint: it isn’t pretty. Burnout is more than having a bad day. It’s having a bad month or even year. And that’s when it can get tricky. True burnout is a real condition where you’re in a state of complete emotional, mental and physical exhaustion. When you burn out, it might feel as if you’ve had the life sucked out of you. So yeah, not pretty.
Sure, you might hear the term ‘burnout’ casually. It might come out as: “I’m over it” or as the meme-friendly, “I can’t even.” But real burnout is a clinical condition that can sometimes lead to depression. Learn about the red flags and how to prevent stress from morphing into a monster so savage, it’ll make Darth Vader look like Hello Kitty.
Signs of burnout
Burnout doesn’t just happen overnight; it’s not a bad hangover you have to suddenly deal with in the morning. It’s slow and sneaky, like a leaky faucet that drip, drip, drips – and before you know it, your cup runneth over. In a nasty, knee-deep-in-water kind of way. Some signs of burnout include:
- Feeling exhausted or drained and unable to do basic tasks, like get out of bed.
- Insomnia. Unable to fall or stay asleep for more than just a few nights.
- Forgetfulness or inability to concentrate and focus.
- Feeling empty or emotionally detached.
- Losing drive and motivation in parts of your life, like in relationships or work / study.
- Loss of appetite.
- Physical illness and symptoms, like dizziness, chest pain, headaches or gastrointestinal pain. Learn about what stress does to your body here.
- Feeling angry or irritated all the time.
What can I do about it?
If you or someone you know has burnout, you can try to:
- Take time out. Catch up on sleep. Make time to rest, relax, switch off or meditate.
- Talk to someone you trust, like a friend or family member.
- Practise setting boundaries to not overexert yourself. Just say no to certain events, projects or commitments.
- Write down a list of things that are currently stressing you out. Next to each item, write down what you can do to help the particular problem.
- Delegate and ask for help.
- Socialise outside of your normal circles or visit new places. This might give you a new perspective and a much-needed breath of fresh air.
- Seek professional support. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional at Wellbeing at Swinburne.
Recognising the early signs of stress can go a long way in preventing burnout. And, of course, basic maintenance of your wellness and health is key. We all need to sleep, drink and eat, right? At the end of the day, we’re all just humans trying to deal with our own excess baggage. And if you can make the load that little bit lighter by talking to someone, hey, why not do it