What is Burnout and How to Recognize it

What is Burnout and How to Recognize it

Webster’s Dictionary defines burnout as: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. In his original 1974 article, Herbert Freudenberger, who coined the term burnout, described the state of being burned out as “becoming exhausted by making excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources” in the workplace. Specifically he noted that burnout was defined by three components (1) emotional exhaustion, the fatigue that comes from caring too much for too long (2) depersonalization, the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion, and (3) the decreased sense of accomplishment and unconquerable sense of futility, that is feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.

Does that sound like something you’ve experienced, or felt before? Not for a passing moment or during a specific event or circumstance, but over a prolonged period of time? If so, you may be experiencing burnout. There are different causes for burnout, but it is almost always caused by a reality that one cannot just simply walk away from. Work, school, parenting, or even family situations.


So how can you tell if you’re suffering from burnout? Here are some things to look for.


  1. Do you constantly feel as though you are failing yourself or those around you? This is one sign you may be experiencing burnout, especially if it accompanies a sense of self doubt. If, no matter how hard you try or how many things you get right, you focus on the balls you’ve dropped and frequently slip into feeling as though you’ll never get it right, you are probably experiencing burnout.


  1. Are you having a hard time managing your emotions? If you frequently feel sadness, or are easily angered or irritated, especially when going about your every day tasks and responsibilities, that can be a sign of burnout.


  1. Do you constantly feel tired, but you’re unable to sleep, no matter how exhausted you  feel? Exhaustion and insomnia are both signs of burnout, and can wreak havoc on  your physical health, as well as your emotional and mental well being.


  1. Which leads us to the next sign; high blood pressure and/or heart disease. If you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle and are struggling with medical issues not explained by diet or exercise, please ask your doctor if it could be stress or burnout related. Many  of us do not recognize the physical impact that burnout has on our bodies.


  1. Do you carry around a sense of detachment and excessive loneliness? If you’re  having a hard time connecting with loved ones, or even friends and acquaintances that you previously felt linked to, it could be a sign of burnout. If you’ve noticed  yourself withdrawing from your social circle, keeping to yourself at work, home or  school, for no identifying reason, it could be a result of the pressure you’re under.


  1. Do you often feel like you can’t escape your current reality? Whether it be a job that is demanding too much of you, a situation at home that you feel trapped in, or a workload at school that makes you feel like you’re growing in defeat, these are all signs that you’re more than just overwhelmed, and are quickly approaching burnout.


  1. Do you catch yourself turning into a cynical person? Or even a negative one? If you’re struggling to find joy or happiness in your life, no matter what the situation is, this is a  sign of burnout.


  1. Have you or your loved ones noticed an increase in your substance use? Oftentimes, individuals who are burnt out find themselves overusing or even abusing alcohol and recreational drugs to cope with the feelings of anxiety, stress, inadequacy and  disconnect that occurs when one is facing burnout. If you’ve noticed yourself using  substances to mask how you feel, you’re in danger of falling into addiction related to burnout.


  1. Have you noticed a lack of creativity, direction, or purpose in your life? This is often a side effect of burnout, especially if you would have considered yourself a creative  nd/or driven individual prior to this experience.


  1. Lastly, and maybe the most dangerous, is a feeling of numbness or carelessness when it comes to your situation. If you’re finding yourself just going through the motions with a “who cares what happens” attitude, you have likely been experiencing  burnout for a while, and it’s time to make a change.


Next week, we’ll discuss what to do once you’ve established that you’re burnt out, and what steps you can take to remedy it. If you’ve read this list, and identify with these symptoms and would like to talk to someone about it, please contact us today for our intake appointment with one of our clinicians!

205 S. Hoover Blvd. Ste 202
Tampa, FL 33609

(813) 563-1155

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