11 Telltale Signs That You Are Already Burnt Out, Not Merely “Tired”
Burnout can lead to depression and other mental illnesses, according to experts.
Since the pandemic happened, we have been collectively experiencing this type of exhaustion that not even a weekend off can fix. Anxiety about the rising number of COVID cases, the lack of boundaries between work and rest, and no promise of when things can get back to “normal” all translate to sleepless nights, constant worrying, and sometimes, an extreme case of burnout.
What is this “burnout” we often hear about? According to licensed psychologist Isaiah Rubio, burnout is “the state of being overwhelmed by stress, emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced personal accomplishment.” People who are burnt out no longer feel that they have a positive impact on the important aspects of their lives. In addition to this, they also lack energy and are filled with frustration and tension.
In an interview with OneLife.ph, professional life coach and educator Wendy David says that burnout is an effect of being physically, mentally, and emotionally stressed for prolonged periods of time. “It is when you feel that the rewards for what you do are not equal to the efforts that you put in. It leaves you feeling hopeless, helpless, and pessimistic,” she adds.
While we often hear this word in a work setting, it is possible to be burnt out by other aspects in your life. “Burnout can be caused by a variety of things, such as too much workload, conflicts in relationships, time pressure, a desire to meet certain demands and expectations, and lack of rest and sleep. Basically, anything that leaves you feeling anxious or drained is a possible cause of burnout,” says Coach Wendy. “It can also be caused by one’s personal relationships with family, friends, and/or romantic partner.”
Stress vs. Burnout
Though stress and burnout are sometimes used interchangeably, Rubio says that burnout is much severe.
“Burnout is basically the cause of prolonged and excessive stress,” he explains. “People who are stressed are still able to cope with pressures despite the fatigue; however, a person who is burned out, loses the ability or the will to cope.”
Telltale signs that you have reached the point of burnout
According to Rubio, these are signs that you might already be burnt out:
- Constantly late or absent
- Dread of coming to work
- Low energy
- Lower productivity
- Apathy or indifference
- Low concentration
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Tensed, irritable and easily frustrated
- Withdrawing from other people
Can burnout lead to other mental illnesses?
“Yes, burnout can lead to depression and other mental illnesses if not properly dealt with right away,” says Coach Wendy. “Burnout can negatively affect your mental health if you start to have symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, becoming cynical, lacking motivation, becoming increasingly irritable, feeling disillusioned, and lacking sleep.”
Rubio says the relationship between burnout and depression is still being widely discussed, as they are usually used as two separate entities. “However, there are studies that indicate that the symptoms of burnout overlap with the symptoms of depression. There are also studies that show association between the two. There [is] also reasonable literature that signify a relation between burnout and anxiety.”
Is it possible to prevent burnout?
Fortunately, Coach Wendy confirms that it is possible to prevent this extreme exhaustion. “This may sound cliché, but you can really prevent burnout by maintaining a healthy balance in every aspect of your life.”
Recognizing that you are burnt out as soon as you notice the symptoms also gives you the chance to understand how to handle it better. “Be aware of proper stress management,” says Rubio. “Stress exposure is a key factor in the development of burnout, so in order to prevent that, we must deal with stress effectively.”
Rubio recommends engaging in regular exercise and having a healthy diet plan to avoid stress from worsening. Practicing good sleep habits, reducing alcohol intake and smoking, and having a support system also help us improve stress management and our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Coach Wendy says that trying mindful meditation can also help your brain and body relax. “It’s a simple yet effective exercise that you can do upon waking up every morning or before going to bed at night,” she says. “You can also nurture your creative side by getting a hobby or starting a project. Doing something fun and relaxing can help you improve your wellbeing.”
But of course, being burnt out and emotionally exhausted is not your fault. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and being expected to work, study, and go on with our lives like everything is okay can take a toll on our mental health. It is not your fault for feeling this way.
Your feelings are valid. You are valid. And there is no shame in asking for help.
If you need someone to listen, please call the National Mental Health Crisis Hotlines at 0917-899-8727, (02) 7989-8727 or 1553 (toll-free landline) anytime, 24/7.
You may also call hotlines 0917-8001123 or (02) 8893-7603 for free telephone counseling in the Philippines.