Are you on the brink of Burnout?

9 October, 2020

Ask yourself these questions:

• Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
• Do you find it hard to concentrate?
• Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers or clients?
• Do you lack energy to be consistently productive?
• Have your sleep habits changed?
• Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you might be experiencing burnout. Many people don’t realize they are burning out because the symptoms consist of things that every one of us experiences, at some time or another.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. Burnout is not considered a mental illness but it can be considered a mental health issue.

Warning signs:

• Exhaustion – a type of fatigue that never really goes away and strikes even when you haven’t
been exerting yourself unreasonably.
• Having no motivation
• Inability to focus, concentrate and forgetfulness
• Becoming frustrated and cynical about life
• Chronic health complaints

What to do?

Consider talking to a doctor because some of these symptoms can be related to health conditions (e.g. depression).

What can you do about work?
• Discuss your concerns with your line manager. Prioritize and then plan so you reach critical deadlines.
• Take regular rest breaks and avoid working through your lunch break.
• Know when to clock-off.
• Seek support from family, friends or colleagues.
• Regular physical activity can help with stress.
• Relaxing activities can be very beneficial. Have you tried yoga, meditation or tai chi?
• Get enough sleep. This is important for your health and wellbeing. Try sleeping an hour earlier than

Even if you are not experiencing stress or burnout now, it is wise to proactively take up self-care and build your mental resilience.

Five stages of burnout:

  1. Honeymoon phase
    Experiencing high job satisfaction, commitment, energy and creativity (like in the beginning of a business venture. You may experience predicted stress.
  2. Onset of stress
    You become aware that some days being more difficult than others. You may find your optimism waning and notice common stress symptoms affecting you physically, mentally or emotionally. This is when you may experience high blood pressure, inability to focus, irritability, lack of sleep, lower productivity, unusual heart rhythms, headaches, forgetfulness, etc.
  3. Chronic stress
    This is where you go from motivation to experiencing stress frequently. You can experience persistent tiredness in the mornings, procrastination, missed deadlines or targets, resentfulness, social withdrawal, chronic exhaustion, feeling threatened or panicked, increased alcohol or caffeine consumption.
  4. Burnout
    Symptoms become critical and continuing normal is often impossible. You start feeling empty inside, obsession about work problems, pessimistic outlook, self-doubt, chronic headaches or bowel problems, complete neglect of personal needs.
  5. Habitual burnout
    The symptoms are so embedded in your life that you are likely to experience a significant physical or emotional problem. You may have chronic sadness, depression, chronic mental fatigue, chronic physical fatigue. Taking care of your mental wellness is vital. You will be of now use to anyone – not your family, friends or the
    company – if you burn out. If you are struggling to cope, seek help. Speak to a counsellor or doctor for assistance.

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