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Burnout – Subtle Signs

In a busy world that seems to keep going and going, many of us feel like we’re running on steam most of the time. If you feel like you are constantly running but never seem able to catch up, if you are unmotivated, worn out and unable to experience joy in the activities you used to, you may be suffering from burnout.

Here are fee subtle signs of burnout that you might want to look out for :

  • The compulsion to prove oneself. Often found at the beginning is excessive ambition. The desire to prove oneself in the workplace turns into compulsion.
  • Working Harder. People establish high personal expectations because they have to prove themselves to others or try to fit in an organisation that doesn’t suit them. To meet these expectations, they tend to focus solely on work while taking on more work than they otherwise would.
  • Neglecting Their Needs. Since they mist devote everything to work, they now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends and family, eating and sleeping start to be seen as unnecessary or unimportant, because they reduce the time and energy that can be spent on work.
  • Displacement of Conflicts. They become aware that what they’re doing isn’t right, but they’re unable to see the source of the problem. This may lead to a crisis in themselves and become threatening. The first physical symptoms appear.
  • Revision of Values. While falling into a state of denial of basic physical needs, perceptions and value system change. Work consumes all energy, leaving none for friends and hobbies. The job is the new value system and people start to become emotionally blunt.
  • Denial of Emerging Problems. People may become intolerant and dislike being social. They may be seen as aggressive and sarcastic. Problems may be blamed on time pressure and all the work that they have to do.
  • Withdrawal. Minimal social contact turns into isolation. Alcohol or drugs may be used as a release from obsessive working “by the book”. These people often have feelings of being without hope or direction.
  • Obvious Behavioural Changes. Coworkers, family, friends and others in their immediate social circles can’t overlook the behavioural changes in these people.
  • Depersonalisation. It’s possible that they no longer see themselves or others as valuable. Their view of life narrows to only seeing the moment and life turns to a series of mechanical functions.
  • Inner Emptiness. They feel empty inside and may exaggerate activities such as overeating or sex to overcome these feelings.
  • Depression. Burnout may include depression in that case, the person is exhausted, hopeless, indifferent and believes that life has no meaning.
  • Burnout Syndrome. They collapse physically and emotionally and need immediate medical attention in extreme cases suicide may occur, while it being viewed as an escape from their situation.

Recognising burnout may be difficult, especially if you are the one experiencing the symptoms. By recognising the signs early, and taking proactive steps to prevent and recover from burnout you will ensure that you are able to enjoy a life in a more fulfilled and healthy way. Learning to focus on your mind-body connection and always remembering to put yourself first, and you will achieve balance in your life that will continuously renew your spirit.

21 replies »

    • A stressful lifestyle can put people under extreme pressure, to the point that they feel exhausted, empty, burned out, and unable to cope. Stress at work can also cause physical and mental symptoms. Possible causes include feeling either permanently overworked or under-challenged, being under time pressure, or having conflicts with colleagues. Extreme commitment that results in people neglecting their own needs may also be at the root of it. Problems caused by stress at work are a common reason for taking sick leave. But sometimes changes in the working environment and more concrete support in everyday life can already help with things like problems at the workplace or the stress of caring for ill relatives.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As someone who suffered with burnout and struggled to keep going for years, I would just like to say that ‘overwork’ is the most common cause of burnout, so it is still reason for concern – also, most of us have to fight on more than one front – as Garima suggests above, family and relationships can wear you down too, and they usually do it in alliance with work. I think this is one of the crucial issues in the modern world, the reason we ignore environmental crises and political decay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I am amazed how perfectly good you describe it. You hit the target right in the middle. I never had serious burn-out, but for me it always starts with that compulsive need to prove something… And when I am not achieving any results, I try even harder and harder but I am not going anywhere.. Just circling around without well-defined direction. Luckily, I can easily sense that something is wrong and then I take a step back to relax and reflect, and come back with new perspective. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad you liked the post Dario. It is very important to diagnose burnout. There are no well-studied methods with which to diagnose burnout. There are various questionnaires for self-assessment. But because there is no generally accepted definition of burnout, it isn’t clear whether questionnaires can actually “measure” burnout and distinguish it from other illnesses. The most common questionnaire is the “Maslach Burnout Inventory” (MBI), which is available for different professional groups. But this questionnaire was originally developed for research purposes, not for use by doctors.
      Online questionnaires on the risk of burnout are not suitable for determining whether someone has burnout or whether the symptoms are caused by something else.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you! A lot of the time, I find myself losing track of time, of reality. Like it’s just slipping away from my grasp… I feel like I’m constantly in a race against time and I’m losing the battle.

    Liked by 1 person

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