Working and raising a family are undoubtedly tiring responsibilities. However, if this sense of extreme fatigue doesn’t lighten up and your outlook on life is glum, you may be on the verge of burning out. This is an extreme form of fatigue that interferes with every aspect of your life. It is also subsequent of long-term stress. Burning out is becoming increasingly commonplace in the United States. People are working longer in an effort to keep up with inflation, and sacrificing their physical, emotional and mental well-being at the same time. Occasional stress is normal, but burnout is not. Learn the five most common signs of being burnt out and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Excessive Fatigue
Being tired is not in itself uncommon. Chronic fatigue, on the other hand, is a condition the Mayo Clinic explains develops over a long period of time and significantly hinders day-to-day activities. At the same time, you may find it difficult to concentrate and are constantly in a disrupted mental or emotional state. Prolonged fatigue can run rampant, and you may not find much relief after a good night’s sleep as you would if you were simply overtired.
Excessive fatigue can be linked to certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease and sleep apnea. However, this type of fatigue may be linked to burnout if it is a result of stress. Working long hours, being overtired from consuming too much caffeine to power your days and lying awake and night worrying can all be caused by stress and result in excessive fatigue.
2. Trouble Sleeping
Being overtired can have the opposite effect on your nightly sleeping patterns. While the occasional lack of sleep can be reversed by getting some rest, being tired several days in a row can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at night. Once you’re on overdrive, it can be difficult to put your mind at ease at night. This is most likely attributed to stress, and worrying about future tasks you need to complete. It is important to leave job-related stresses at work, and to take time for yourself away from stresses at home so you can relax and get much-needed sleep.
Caffeine is a common way to fuel up your days, but it is also a contributor to sleep troubles. Whether you drink coffee, tea or energy drinks, the effects of even a minimal amount of caffeine can be enough to disrupt your sleep habits. If you can’t get through the day without your favorite cup of Joe, keep it down to one to two cups per day. Also, avoid drinking any caffeinated beverages after lunch time, as the stimulant can stay in your system for several hours.
3. Loss of Interest
Caring about your work and family life can cause the stress that leads to burnouts. Ironically, this can also lead to a loss of interest overtime. The aftermath of burning out can make you lose interest in work, your home life, relationships and activities you’re normally actively engaged in. Keep in mind that a loss of interest is also a symptom of depression, which can also be linked to long-term burnout.
4. Emotional Problems
Fatigue, lack of sleep and a loss of interest may collectively lead to emotional problems. You may not be able to cope with everyday stresses like normal. While some of these issues can be related to mental health conditions from burning out, you may also experience symptoms that would likely not be present if you weren’t burned out. Burning out can cause:
- A short fuse
- Frequent crying spells
- Feelings of hopelessness
5. Changes in Weight
Being burnt out can lead to numerous health issues. Changes in weight are common signs of health issues related to burnout. First, eating unhealthy eating habits from being too tired can cause steady weight gain overtime. Empty-calorie snack choices, combined with fast and processed meals can cause weight gain, as well as overeating.
On the flip side, you may have the opposite problem. Excessive stress and tiredness can lead to a loss of appetite and decreased eating. In this instance, you may notice sudden weight loss. It is important to bear in mind that not eating from burnout can disrupt your metabolism, thereby eventually leading to weight gain.
Treatments & Solutions
Burning out is a serious condition that will only worsen if left untreated. It is important to take much-needed time for yourself now in order to prevent a health crisis or emotional breakdown. If you suspect you’re burnt out, you should:
- See a doctor for potential treatments to help reduce stress and get your health back on track
- Eat well and exercise
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Take regular vacations
- Leave your work at the office
- Spend more time outdoors
- Socialize on a regular basis
These tips can also help you prevent burnout from ever occurring. It can seem impossible to make time for yourself in such a hectic schedule. However, even just one hour a day can make a difference and pave the way to a more relaxed and refreshed you.
Work and other responsibilities are important. However, what is even more important is your individual well-being. Without taking care of yourself, you are less apt at taking care of your family and work tasks. Balance is the key to burnout prevention—if you suspect a medical issue is at play, see your doctor right away.