It’s quite common to feel stressed in day-to-day life with difficulties and long hours at work, personal life issues or unexpected situations. Dealing with these problems is also an essential part of our lives, but sometimes, we may find ourselves in a position where we don’t feel motivated to do anything, small things get on our nerves and life may seem pointless.

People worldwide tend to confuse burnout with stress and think that working is the main cause. However, they aren’t entirely correct.


What Is Burnout?

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In 2019, the WHO defined burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Simply put, burnout is a total absence of positive stimulus in your life provoked by continued stress. This is the main difference between burnout and stress itself. If you feel stressed, you may take a day off, arrange a small vacation, or spend your free time doing something creative, e.g., taking a free graphic template design course. It will help you by focusing on something else. However, burnout occurs when we are emotionally depleted, anxious, and unable to complete even the simplest tasks.

The WHO definition is good, but it covers just one reason – work. Job burnout is real, but it is not the only cause. You may take a day off, but it just won’t help if the burnout source lies in something different. The reason can stem from a totally different place which you don’t recognize as the root of your depletion. To replenish yourself, you will have to dig more into “you” and find the emotional and/or mental wound.

Signs of Burnout

Burnout usually doesn’t come in one day — it takes months or even years to occur. The signs may be very subtle at first, but they will get worse with time. If not handled early, they can lead to negative long-term changes in your life. So it’s very important to figure them out as quickly as possible to prevent bad consequences.

Physical signs:

  • Weakness, tiredness
  • Insomnia, appetite loss
  • Health issues, lowered immunity, frequent illnesses

Emotional signs:

  • Emotional emptiness, never-ending doubts
  • Sense of being trapped in a “dead-end” and that defeat is upon you
  • Increased cynical attitude towards people surrounding you
  • Feeling of detachment, being alone

Behavioural signs:

  • Avoiding your responsibilities
  • Secluding, distancing from others
  • Procrastinating, spending a lot more time on accomplishing things
  • Using an excessive amount of food or alcohol to soothe yourself

Stress vs. Burnout

Prolonged stress can be the reason for burnout, but you shouldn’t put an equal sign between them. In simple terms, stress is a condition of being exposed to situations that involve “too much”. By that, we mean things that rush in excessive amounts and consequently create too many mental and/or physical pressures for you to cope with. Sure, it is hard, but there is nothing a human can’t overcome. People under stress can still get out of this state by bringing everything under control.

Unlike stress, burnout is described by the category of “not enough”. All-consuming emptiness, mental exhaustion, motivation absence, and loss of any interest in socializing are the most basic characteristics of burnout. People with such a condition feel down all the time; their character is somewhat broken. There is no hope for positive changes in life for them. So, while stress is described as being snowed under with responsibilities, burnout is an everlasting feeling of weakness. Also, being under stress is usually acknowledged by a person, but burnout comes in more subtle ways, and you don’t always notice it.

How to Deal With Burnout?

Art therapy for burnout
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Recognizing the early signs of incoming burnout can help you avoid major consequences. However, if you understand that the point of no return is already a long way behind, just follow one simple but vital rule – don’t push yourself through it. By doing so, you will just worsen your mental and physical state. Take a pause and consider your options as to how you may rearrange your life to get out of burnout.

There is no universal answer on how to deal with burnout, but some of the following tips will help you find the right way.

  • Talk to other people. Social contact is going to alleviate the stress — just find a good listener and tell your story. They are not bound to fix your problem, but listening without judging or commenting can bring relief.
  • Reconsider your work. The routine can kill. So, if you’re not satisfied with your job, stop and look around. Remember that there’s always more than one option.
  • Reassess your priorities. Think about your goals, hopes, and dreams. Maybe, there is something left neglected. Also, don’t forget about your creative side. Paint a picture, write a poem, or shoot a video. Making something unique is going to strengthen your character and decrease stress.

In the End

Keep in mind one thing: burnout doesn’t mean that you’re broken. No matter the reason, you deserve downtime. Don’t push yourself, reevaluate your work, and enjoy your life.

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