The stress-related phenomenon known as burnout appears to be affecting an increasing number of people. This occupational issue can severely inhibit an individual's productivity, happiness, and overall well-being.
Unfortunately, many of those at risk for burnout do not recognize its development until they are already suffering from many of its symptoms. To prevent this from happening to you, it is essential that you be familiar with the signs and symptoms of burnout and engage in preventative stress-relieving practices.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a phenomenon most often seen among those working full-time in high-stress environments that can cause a great deal of hardship. The condition can make it difficult to engage with others, prompt emotional and physical irregularities, and encourage sensations of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. These qualities not only impede personal well-being but also disrupt efficiency, motivation, and focus. Researchers suggest that burnout stems from chronic, unmanaged stress. As such, burnout may be closely related to the body’s primary stress-regulating systems; the adrenals.
The Connection Between Burnout and the Adrenals
The adrenals are the primary producer of stress-regulating hormones such as cortisol. When we experience stress, cortisol is released to engage the body’s stress response. This increases our ability to handle immediate threats, which can range from a tiger attack to an impending deadline. In short bursts, our stress response is hugely beneficial. However, if stress is maintained for an extended period, the adrenals can become depleted resulting in adrenal fatigue and increasing the risk of burnout.
Signs of Impending Burnout
Burnout is a relatively common condition. Some studies suggest that nearly half of full-time workers experience occasional burnout. To better protect yourself and others from burnout, it is important that you be aware of its varied signs and symptoms. Below are some of the most common indicators of burnout.
People who are burning out often find themselves thinking or worrying about work in their leisure time. This can quietly sap a person’s mental energy and increase their stress level.
There are two primary ways in which burnout may manifest in interpersonal settings. Burnout may cause more conflict and aggression when talking with others or individuals may become withdrawn and isolated.
Loss of Motivation
People experiencing burnout have difficulty being motivated or staying excited about projects they previously enjoyed. They may also have trouble simply getting out of bed in the morning and starting their day.
One of the most prominent signs of burnout is unceasing fatigue or exhaustion. If you are having difficulty keeping your eyes open, focusing on a task, or can’t think clearly, burnout me be on the horizon.
Both chronic stress and burnout can dramatically impede cognitive ability. This can manifest through symptoms including reduced comprehensive ability, poor memory, and difficulty making decisions.
Decline in Personal Care
Burnout can cause an individual to engage in destructive habits such as overeating, smoking, self-medicating, and excessive drinking. Many of those who are burnt out rely on these unhealthy coping methods to simply get through the day.
Unhappy or Unsatisfied
Burnout can cause an individual to feel a general malaise or discontent regarding their career and home life. Common sensations include impressions of being stuck or not progressing as they expected, dissatisfaction with their current position, or feeling that something is lacking in their life.
Underappreciated and Cynical
A common trend of burnout is a sensation that nothing you do matters or not feeling appreciated. Feelings of pessimism and cynicism may also accompany burnout.
How to Effectively Combat Burnout
Stress is a primary contributor to adrenal fatigue and subsequent burnout. As such, preventing burnout requires that you actively attempt to alleviate stress in your life. Below are some suggestions and lifestyle changes that may significantly reduce stress.
Make Relaxation a Priority
Many people do not appreciate the importance of relaxation. But, like many other elements of wellness, it is worth making it a priority. Schedule time for yourself to enjoy relaxing activities such as meditation, listening to music, deep breathing, reading, or enjoying your favorite hobby. Regardless of your selection, be sure you make time in your schedule to engage in it fully.
Get Good Quality Sleep
Research shows that getting less than six hours of quality sleep every night can significantly contribute to burnout. In part, this is because sleep deficits promote fatigue, poor job performance, and decrease motivation. You can help combat these problems by ensuring you get at least eight hours of good quality sleep every night.
Disconnect to Recharge
Social media and e-mail are powerful tools that allow for impressive connectivity. However, these technological services also induce a significant amount of stress. Studies have found that taking a break from social media can notably improve feelings of well-being and reduce anxiety. Try setting aside time every day to completely disconnect from your electronics.
Use Stress-Relieving Adaptogens
Supplements can provide emotional and physical stress relief. Adaptogens are a particularly effective option. These plants have natural system-balancing qualities, which can help normalize adrenal function, improve hormone values, and alleviate stress. Click here to learn about the top 6 adaptogens for relieving stress and supporting adrenals.
Engage with Others
Social contact is incredibly important for mental wellness. Interacting with someone face to face and having a good conversation is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and stress. Good outlets for social interaction include friends, family, or your partner. You may also consider joining constructive communities such as spiritual, social, or support groups that match your needs and interests.
Beat Back Burnout by Reducing Stress
Burnout is a serious problem that has taken a strong hold of American workers. Sadly, many are not familiar with the condition nor do they know how to recognize it. Worse still, people frequently maintain a high stress lifestyle that contributes to adrenal fatigue and increases their likelihood of burnout. After reading this article you should now have the knowledge you need to better identify and resolve stress-related burnout. By enacting the stress-relieving practices suggested above, you can reduce stress, protect the adrenals, and effectively combat burnout.
Resources1. Gallup. “Employee Burnout, Part 1: The 5 Main Causes.” Gallup.
2. Lastovkova, Andrea et al. “Burnout syndrome as an occupational disease in the European Union: an exploratory study.” Industrial health vol. 56,2 (2018): 160-165.
3. NIH. “5 Things You Should Know About Stress.” National Institute of Mental Health.
4. Mayo Clinic Staff “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.” Mayo Clinic.
5. APA Staff. “Stress effects on the body.” American Psychological Association.