While you can know the causes of burnout, and even learn what to do for prevention, sometimes burnout creeps up on us. One of the biggest problems with experiencing burnout is that it limits our ability to self-reflect and realize when we need to stop and ask for help. The signs of burnout are sneaky and tend to disguise themselves in many surprising areas of your life.
If you are:
having difficulty with relationships
having a hard time motivating for things you once loved to do
find yourself with a negative internal dialogue
these may be underlying symptoms of burnout.
Three areas where burnout manifests itself and disrupts life are:
PHYSICALLY OR IN THE BODY
You might feel worn-out most of the time. No matter how much you try to rest or sleep you feel heavy and tired. Often your interest in food will change, with either no appetite or a tendency to over eat and crave junk food. Sleep can become difficult with either an inability to fall asleep or a tendency to sleep at odd hours. Either way you never feel fully rested.
A huge red flag for burnout is low motivation for anything, especially things you used to love to do. Having fun just sounds overwhelming.
Another sign is an increasingly negative internal dialogue. You are critical of both yourself and the people around you. This can lead to a spiral of negativity and cause you to pull away from others. You might also feel like no matter what you do, nothing works. You feel helpless and hopeless.
It can be hard to recognize how burned out we are. The following behaviors are a strong signal that something is wrong. While there are huge benefits and nothing wrong with spending some time alone, if you find yourself rarely interested in social interactions with even close friends and family, something could be wrong. It will be hard to start or complete even the most basic daily tasks. Bigger goals become overwhelming, and you feel unable to accomplish more than the most basic care tasks. When you are around people, you might find yourself taking out your frustrations on others, or always feeling like your emotions are about to boil over. Finally you might find yourself using food, alcohol and drugs as a quick fix to try and feel better, even momentarily.
If life has become a challenge or drudgery day to day, if you feel tired and notice a change in your normal routine, or if you find yourself spending or craving more time alone than normal, you may be in the midst of burn out. Due to a lack of motivation at this stage, it can be hard to drag yourself out of the burn out hole. The good news is, you are not alone, and there are tools that you can use every day to help refill your cup and find the energy for life again. Reach out to me if you'd like me to share some ideas for your particular situation.