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What is Burnout?

Updated: Jun 13

Written by Iman Mansoor

What is Burnout?


Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. This condition typically arises from prolonged stress, which can originate from various sources such as caregiving and social obligations, professional commitments, and academic pressures.





“Burn Bright, Not Out.”

— Hamza Khan


                              Types of Burnout (See page on WebMD)


  • Overload burnout - Caused by overwhelming oneself in pursuit for success, leading to willingness to risk one’s health, personal, and social life. 

  • Under-challenged burnout - Caused by persistently feeling underappreciated, unneeded, or bored, leading to avoidance of activities and withdrawal.

  • Neglect burnout - Caused by persistently feeling helpless, unworthy, incompetent, and overwhelmed by responsibilities, leading to self doubt and poor self-esteem.  

  • Habitual burnout - Caused by chronic physical and mental fatigue, leading to serious and possibly detrimental behavior changes.


Symptoms 


  • Physical fatigue 

  • Mental fatigue

  • Muscle soreness/ stiffness

  • Inability to regulate emotions (i.e more frequent crying spells, emotional outbursts, irritability)

  • Weak immune system

  • Feeling a lack of control in life

  • Struggling with sleep 

  • Withdrawal from activities 

  • Social withdrawal 

  • Inability to focus 

  • Reduced performance 

  • Consistent feelings of self-doubt, helplessness, and failure

  • Loss of motivation 


Dealing with Burnout 

Achieving balance in life, between family, social, work and/or academic obligations, is key for counteracting and preventing burnout. However, striking this balance can be challenging. Seeking the support of trusted close ones or professionals can be immensely helpful in navigating these challenges and maintaining overall well-being. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has demonstrated effectiveness in alleviating burnout symptoms by employing cognitive restructuring techniques, such as positive self-talk. 

Prioritizing self-care is crucial to replenishing the energy of your body and mind, allowing yourself to rest and heal. Some ways you can do this is by setting boundaries for yourself, whether your obligations are for home or work. Allow yourself to engage in relaxation and schedule your day-to-day activities. Continuously enduring prolonged stress can drain your energy reserves. In such instances, it's beneficial to engage in self-reflection to assess changes you can make to your lifestyle. Mindfulness practices aid in this process, fostering a deeper connection with your physical and mental well-being, thereby enhancing self-awareness and insight into your needs.

 Physical self-care, such as exercising for even just a few minutes a day, is also extremely beneficial for your physical and mental health. Getting enough sleep regularly is also critical as sleep allows the mind and body to rest while even removing waste products in the brain accumulated during awake hours. Sleep has also been found to augment memory retention. Ultimately, prioritizing physical and mental well-being enables greater engagement in daily activities, enhancing focus and productivity.

  Remember, you are not a machine. You cannot run consistently on low energy. You are a person and you need different things on different days. Your best will look differently on some days compared to others, which is completely okay. Learning to prioritize progress over perfectionism provides you with the opportunity to grow and the freedom to explore your capabilities without constant stress weighing you down. You are capable of finding balance and you are capable of achieving your goals.


“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

— Christopher K. Germer






 

References

Burnout: Symptoms and signs. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved May 16, 2024, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/burnout-symptoms-signs

Job burnout: How to spot it and take action. (2023, November 30). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642

Therapy for overcoming burnout. (n.d.). Domental.com. Retrieved May 16, 2024, from https://domental.com/blog/how-to-overcome-burnout





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