Here’s a question for you: what do stress, feelings of overwhelmingness, anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, and detachment have in common? The answer, Burnout.
Did that surprise you? If it did, you’re not alone! Many people have experienced the features of burnout without realising. So, let’s talk about Burnout…

Picture someone driving down an open road, they look at the dashboard and notice that the fuel light is blinking. Normally, they’d look for a petrol station to fill up the tank and move forward. But what if there wasn’t one? Now imagine they chose to press down on the accelerator with the aim of just pushing through to get to their destination. But they still haven’t arrived and now the car feels slow and weighed down, as though it’s on an uphill journey. While the engine sputters and the tank empties, they ignore the resistance and keep driving. At this point, they are running on fumes and inevitably the car will breakdown.

This is how burnout feels.

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The car represents physical and mental well-being; when you push despite the emotional, psychological, and chronic exhaustion to socialise or complete your work/ tasks etc. then the car starts to run on empty fuel.

What is important to notice is, just as the fuel light blinks and the engine sputters before the car slows down, our bodies and minds alert us when we need to replenish our energy.

So, what signs should you look out for?

 

  1. Stress is one of the main indicators of burnout and is one of the most important signs that you should be aware of. Make sure to check in with yourself and consider how you are coping with your current lifestyle. Has your workload diminished but you still feel that you are lacking energy and motivation? These considerations may indicate whether you are currently burnt out.
  1. Constantly feeling overwhelmed and excessively anxious are tell-tale signs of burnout. Long-term stress can hit a certain point and amount to these feelings. These feelings may be coupled with brain fog as an individual’s ability to think clearly can be hindered by excessive worry.
  1. When someone is burnt out, they may lack the motivation to complete simple tasks that they wouldn’t normally mind completing, such as cooking or getting out of bed. Further to this, you may find yourself avoiding work meetings or work-related outings.
  1. Irritability is also a common symptom of burnout due to low energy levels and poor sleep. Do you find yourself easily aggravated or have less patience than usual?
  1. Lastly, feelings of detachment may arise as things that would normally appeal, no longer bring the same positive feelings. These feelings may manifest in how one feels about themselves, and as a result, lead an individual to stop caring about simple necessities such as personal hygiene.

Now that you know the signs, think about how often you need to refuel – do you need hourly breaks? Should you be switching off at a certain hour? When do you schedule your “me-time?”

And don’t forget, different cars use different fuels…what fuel works best for you? Is it reading a book? Seeing a friend for some coffee? Baking a cake? Or is it going for a walk? Prioritise the fuel that keeps you happy and running smoothly!

 

Stay tuned for part two where we’’ll dive into achieving a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout…

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