Overcoming Burnout: Causes, Signs, Symptoms & How to Fight it

What happens when you take on more than you can mentally and physically cope with? Maybe you’re aiming for a promotion and, despite all your hard work, you’re starting to feel you’re getting nowhere. Maybe you’re trying to juggle being a new mother as well as hold down a full time job and all you want to really do is escape from the world.

No matter how skilled you are at multi-tasking, there will come a point when your body and mind will start to fail under the weight of all of that pressure. If you can see the warning signs you might be able to get help before it’s too late.

What is burnout?

The term burnout was coined in the 1970s by Dr. Herbert Freudenberger. It was taken from the idea of a burned-out old house:
“If you have ever seen a building that has been burned out, you know it’s a devastating sight… some bricks or concrete may be left; some outline of windows. Indeed, the outer shell may seem almost intact. Only if you venture inside will you be struck by the full force of the desolation”

What does this mean when you apply it to humans? It means that from the outside, there might be only a few warning signs that things are deteriorating but that without taking action and putting out the fire, you face destruction.

Burnout is something that happens gradually. It’s not a condition that you can wake up with one day. Burnout is a state of chronic and continual stress that leads to feelings of detachment, not being ‘enough’, physical exhaustion and emotional fatigue.

When a person is suffering burnout, they are usually at a point where they are no longer able to function in an efficient way in their personal and professional lives. Even though there’s no defining moment when a person is ‘hit’ with burnout, the human body usually gives a person many signs that indicate they are heading towards burnout.

What causes job burnout?

Burnout is not just about being a workaholic. It’s a condition that results when work stresses and deadlines are not balanced with feelings of reward and recognition. There are many factors that contribute to burnout in the workplace:

  • A heavy workload
  • Feeling like you are not in control of your workload
  • Receiving no rewards for the work you do
  • A lack of belonging or sense of community
  • The feeling that things are not fair.

This means that it’s not just high-flying executives who can suffer from burnout. It can become a problem for anyone whose work-life balance is out of order.

Physical symptoms of burnout

Usually people will begin noticing physical symptoms when it comes to suffering from burnout.

  • Lethargy: People suffering from burnout feel constantly tired and drained of energy. They wake up feeling exhausted.
  • Illness: Burnout lowers your immunity and makes you more susceptible to illnesses such as the common cold and flu.
  • Headaches: Frequent headaches and muscle pain are common physical symptoms of burnout.
  • Loss of appetite: Feeling that you are not hungry or that it’s hard to stomach food.
  • Insomnia: Problems getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Other physical symptoms that can start to occur include chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach pains, dizziness, and heart palpitations.

Emotional symptoms of burnout

There are several emotional warning signs that can occur in people suffering from burnout. These include:

  • Sense of failure: Feeling that you are not good enough or feeling a strong sense of self-doubt.
  • Helplessness: Feeling trapped in a situation without any light at the end of the tunnel.
  • De-motivated: Feeling like you have no will or energy to do anything at work or socially.
  • Negative thoughts: Increased feelings of cynicism and that the world is not a good or happy place.
  • Detachment: Feeling lonely and that you are not connected to people.
  • Unsatisfied: No matter what you do, you feel that it’s not enough to ease your suffering.
  • Irritability: Things that usually wouldn’t bother you are now getting on your nerves and making your feel uneasy all the time.

Behavioural signs of burnout

In order to ease the physical and psychological symptoms of burnout, sufferers will resort to behaviour that is not productive such as:

  • Acting up: Taking your frustrations out on others and treating those you love poorly due to your own frustrations.
  • Using a crutch: Resorting to drugs, alcohol or food to numb the pain and cope with day to day life.
  • Isolating yourself: Withdrawing from social situations, preferring to be alone rather than in the company of others.
  • Putting things off: Procrastinating at work or in your communication with others.
  • Taking sick days: Going into work late or skipping work.
  • Forgetfulness: Increased forgetfulness or failing to meet your responsibilities because your mind is distracted.

If you relate to some of these symptoms but are still not sure if you might have burnout, we have put together an easy online burnout syndrome test that can help you evaluate your life and determine how severely you may be affected.

4 simple ways you can overcome burnout

  1. Self care: Focus on the little things you can do to take better care of yourself each day including eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water and exercising regularly.
  2. Sleep hygiene: Sleep is an important time for the body to heal and repair. When people are stressed out they are often going to bed late and not getting enough sleep. Try to set up a sleep regime that gives you at least 8 hours each night.
  3. Step out of your comfort zone: Studies have shown that by doing something new, chemicals are released in the brain that ease stress. It doesn’t have to be something scary or wildly out of your comfort zone. It could be as simple as sitting in the garden with your eyes closed and letting your other senses tune in to the environment around you. Or maybe trying a new food or listening to a new band.
  4. Enjoy yourself: If you have a favourite pastime that you have been neglecting due to work commitments – get back into it. Maybe it’s a sport that you like to play, a friend that makes you laugh, or the act of building something with your hands. Any activity that brings you enjoyment should be brought back into your weekly routine. This will help ease your resentment towards your job.

Overcoming burnout in 30 days at The Dawn Rehab Thailand

If left untreated, burnout can have catastrophic effects on your life. It can cause nervous breakdowns, heart attacks, long-lasting mental health issues, relationship problems and loss of employment. Getting treatment for burnout is not just about taking a few days off work. It’s vital that sufferers look at the source of the problem and take practical steps to make permanent changes.

The Dawn Rehab Centre in Chiang Mai not only offers state of the art, highly professional services for those suffering from burnout, but our stunning tropical setting in northern Thailand means that you can truly step into a world of relaxation and rejuvenation – away from the stresses of your everyday life. Our services are much more affordable than similar facilities in countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and America – which also makes The Dawn the ideal choice for recovery.

Our team of doctors, psychologists and therapists can tailor a programme to help you overcome burnout symptoms – ensuring your recovery is long-lasting rather than a quick-fix to stress. Call us today +66 63 048 4877 for a free and confidential quote.