“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” ~ Michael Gungor
If you routinely experience feeling exhausted, physically and mentally tired, or lack motivation and desire to do things you usually enjoy, you might be a prime candidate for burnout. Or worse.
While the term burnout has gained traction in our culture lately, especially around work, it is not a new development in human nature.
Below are some signs of burnout and exhaustion, as well as a few ideas to help combat fatigue and boost your mood and energy.
Am I Depressed, Or Am I Experiencing Burnout?
The two conditions are difficult to separate without getting into the weeds of psychology, psychiatry, and clinical research.
For the sake of this article, it will be helpful to consider burnout as relating to adverse events and conditions arising foremost from work, although not exclusively.
Depression is a more encompassing term and can be used as a catchall to describe more intense, longer-lasting feelings of hopelessness and despair.
You can see how tricky it is to capture all the nuances of the human condition.
This article addresses burnout by identifying a few more common symptoms and causes and offering helpful ideas to help you find relief.
What Does Burnout Look Like?
Burnout is conceived as a syndrome that develops in response to chronically adverse working conditions.
Burnout is believed to result in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal fulfillment.
If you dread certain parts of work and colleague interactions and find no joy even when you complete meaningful tasks, you are likely experiencing burnout.
A hallmark of high achievers is being driven to the point of exhaustion. There is a deep desire to complete everything on the to-do list, get to inbox zero, lead the way on every team project, and be the first one in and the last one out.
While this is celebrated in hustle culture, there is a darker side to chalking up this kind of behavior to being a type-A personality and overachiever.
When the dust finally settles, you are so depleted that no vacation days or bonuses can refuel your tank.
Hustle culture doesn’t have an off switch and notoriously lacks empathy.
When you question what all the work was for, you may realize that the people you were hoping to please or impress have moved on to the next thing.
Even worse, the people that have supported you outside of work may also be exhausted. In turn, their patience is worn thin by being relegated to standby repeatedly.
The Tangled Web That Burnout Weaves
The complexity of burnout reaches much further than just causing difficulty with work.
When work has been the central focus for so long, other essential areas of your health may also be depleted.
Sleep, diet, hydration, and exercise are easily sacrificed when deadlines, timelines, meetings, and emails never end. Even if you recognize early symptoms of burnout at work, it may already be affecting these other areas of your personal life.
Studies show that as sleep declines, making healthy choices with exercise and diet also suffers. Personal relationships and mental health are also caught up, creating a toxic mix of personal and relational issues.
At this point, the line between burnout and depression gets blurred. It isn’t uncommon for people to confuse what the presenting problem is because all of life feels difficult. If you would enjoy your job more if you just lost weight or were able to get to the gym more often, you are likely at this juncture.
Yes, job satisfaction is influenced by your well-being. However, the inability to recognize some mutual exclusivity with these parts of your life can be problematic.
How to Get Unstuck
There is a temptation in the healthcare industry to offer the public guarantees, magic bullets, and cure-alls to whatever ails them.
Science and technology have moved quickly to solve numerous problems, so recognizing progress is valuable. Many people get in trouble by seeking only the new, latest, or most advertised “next big thing.”
Mindfulness has become a trendy idea and a buzzword in workplace culture, even though it has been around since people have had thoughts. It’s also a problematic idea for people to conceptualize.
Is mindfulness the same thing as meditation? Is it just thoughtfulness towards others?
Mindfulness effectively involves making time each day to examine your lifestyle.
Begin each day with a small block of time with no distractions (no phones, smart watches, or devices nearby), preferably before checking your email. Use this time to check in with your expectations for the day.
Do you have time to prioritize a healthy diet? Will you do some sort of movement several times throughout the day? Can you find a few more times to block out 5 minutes for reflection or breathwork?
Starting with a simple practice of mindfulness may seem simple. The truth is that execution and consistency are the most difficult parts of any new habit.
2. Add Habits to Existing Habits
Another tip for success with new habits is attaching them to existing habits.
For example, if you always turn the coffee pot on at 6 a.m., commit to using the five minutes after you hit on the switch to practice mindfulness.
What to Do Next If You Are Experiencing Exhaustion
If you want to learn more about the causes of fatigue and exhaustion (or if you want more information on developing helpful habits for creating excellent health), follow the links below to read related articles:
You have what it takes inside you to make a definite choice that will change the future trajectory of your health.
Our team at Tiger Medical has the experience, clinical skills, and coaching acumen to help you get your health and energy back.
To talk to one of our professionals, click here to schedule your call!