The 4 signs of burnout and how to prevent burnout

Burn out can happen in all parts of your life. The 4 signs of burnout might be present, but you also might not notice them.

I’m going to share about my own experience of burnout but also help you identify if you are suffering from burnout. As we enter a new season, it is such a perfect time to reflect on your current situation.

What is burnout?

Burnout is commonly referred to as a reaction to chronic or prolonged stresses from your job or workplace. However, recent research has indicated that people from all walks of life may experience burnout and not just from work. Those even in caring roles are also at risk of burnout.

Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that can zap the joy out of your career, friendships, and family interactions. Continual exposure to stressful situations, like caring for an ill family member, working long hours, or witnessing upsetting news related to politics and school safety can lead to this stress condition.

Burn out is mainly caused by stress. Stress has become an epidemic, medical researchers are calling stress the black plague of our century. Stress is responsible for a whopping 90% of all doctor’s visits according to the World Health Organisation.

Burnout can impact all parts of your life, mind and body. Personality characteristics like needing to be in control, perfectionism, and being “Type A” can also increase your risk of burnout.

Just reflect back and look at a moment when you felt really drained, feeling disengaged or disconnected, loss of motivation, feeling anxious about starting your day or struggling to go to bed. Be curious.

Signs of burnout

If you’re unsure of suffering from burn out I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of symptoms that you can use as a guide. Keep an open heart and an inquisitive mind as I share about those signs:

  • Exhaustion. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted. Physical symptoms may include headaches, stomachaches, and change of appetite or disrupted sleep, insomnia.

  • Disengaged. Being unmotivated to engage in activities that you usually love. Being willing to stop socialising and confiding in loved ones and others.

  • Irritability. Feeling resentful. Burnout can cause people to lose their cool with loved ones and others. Coping with normal stressors like preparing for a work meeting, driving kids to school, and tending to household tasks also may start to feel insurmountable, especially when things don’t go as planned.

  • Frequent illnesses. Burnout, like other long-term stress, can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and insomnia. Burnout can also lead to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.

The 12 stages of burnout

Unlike a cold or the flu, burnout doesn’t hit all at once.

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger attempted to describe the chronological development of a burnout syndrome in a 12-stage model of burnout:

  1. Compulsion to prove oneself (excessive ambition)

  2. Working harder

  3. Neglecting own needs

  4. Displacement of conflicts and needs

  5. No longer any time for non-work-related needs

  6. Increasing denial of the problem, decreasing flexibility of thought/behavior

  7. Withdrawal, lack of direction, cynicism

  8. Behavioral changes/psychological reactions

  9. Depersonalisation: loss of contact with self and own needs

  10. Inner emptiness, anxiety, addictive behavior

  11. Increasing feeling of meaninglessness and lack of interest

  12. Physical exhaustion that can be life-threatening

Do any of these resonate?

My own burnout

In 2014, I was living in Paris and working in strategy consulting and I faced the most intense burnout I ever experienced. I was going to the opera once a month, seeing exhibitions, going to restaurants. I had a very busy corporate and social life. I had no time for rest and self-care. On the go all the time.

One morning, I was in my bed and I couldn’t move. I was in a physical collapse stage of burnout (12th stage from above). I was soooo drained. I never lack energy (as an ADHD person).

When I went to see the doctor, I bursted into tears. She told me I was suffering from burnout. I rejected it as it was such a bad word for me. My ego rejected that diagnosis. She offered for me to take 2 weeks off. During those 2 weeks, I reconnected with my ‘wise’ younger self, the one meditating at 5 years old and during my teenage years, the one in India living at 21, the one living in Brazil, reading books that I loved at the time, practicing yoga again, breathwork again.

After a few days, I accepted the diagnosis and I extended my leave. From there on I’ve been way more conscious about my boundaries and energy.

Now in my business, I look after my energy daily and I support other entrepreneurs and leaders in doing the same.

The 3 simple strategies to prevent burn-out

Stress may be unavoidable, but burnout is preventable. Following these steps may help you toward stress from getting the best of you:

  • REST & white space - Plan time in your day, in your week, in your month, in the season. When you take time away from your work, you accelerate your productivity. REST as a recovery workaholic, I know how rest can feel that you’re lazy but resting is the most powerful thing you can do

  • Eat a balanced diet and eat mindfully. I’ll cover it in my Ayurveda course. Eating healthy is soooo important for your well being.

  • Bring joy and rituals everyday in your life - Embracing some self-care practices, connecting with your divine feminine. Taking time to be rather than do - read more here about divine feminine and masculine.

Final thoughts

Being exposed to continual stress can cause us to burnout. Feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and isolating from friends and family members can be some of the signs. However, eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep may prevent this stressed state.

Burnout can be avoided by making self-care part of your daily routine. Even if you’re working long hours, studying for exams, or taking care of young children, remember to sprinkle some joy into each day. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.

Try going for a walk, talking to a friend, or watching an enjoyable program on television. Small self-care gestures like these can stop stress from turning into something more serious, like burnout.

Join the Goddess Embodiment Sisterhood if you want to grow your business away from the hustle and with a community of like minded women.

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