5 Top Signs You Are Heading for a Burnout – And What To Do
5 Top Signs You Are Heading for a Burnout – And What To Do
Top Sign of Burnout – You’re Exhausted, and You’ve Lost Your Joy
Is the uplifting emotion of joy welling up inside you at least one time a day? Do you look around at the snow softly falling on your daily walk and experience a connection with nature that lifts you up? Do you take a sip of your coffee and savor the experience, feeling a rush of gratitude and enjoyment? Do you laugh with coworkers or family and return to your work buoyed and vibrant? Or do you come home in the evening and experience a rush of pleasure at the home you’ve created to relax in for the evening?
The leading sign and symptom of burnout is a loss of your joy.
The majority of people find some source of joy at some point in their day. As humans, we are naturally programmed to seek out pleasurable experiences. We act, both consciously and unconsciously, to create a state of homeostasis in our brain of feel-good chemicals.
Of course, it could be that the short-term remedies someone uses aren’t supportive of long-term health and wellness. The source of happiness could be the after-work beer with a co-worker, or the third piece of chocolate cake, instead of a nature walk or the serotonin rush of a yoga class.
The point is that the majority of people have some source of happiness every day- whether it is a reactive or proactive behavior, whether health and wellness are promoting or detracting. It doesn’t matter how tired they are, or stressed, people who aren’t burnt out experience at least a few moments per day of happiness.
If you are exhausted, and you’ve lost all sense of joy in your life, then you are close to burnout or already suffering from complete exhaustion.
You’re Flooded With Negative Emotions Most of the Day
The second sign or symptom you are heading for burnout or already burnt out is experiencing negative emotions almost all day long. The dominant negative emotion will differ based on personality type and personal background.
Are you irritable? Are you depressed? Do you spend a great deal of your day anxious?
Is stress your constant companion? Are you trying to suppress and near-constant feeling of overwhelm? Or are you experiencing disinterest and apathy?
Your body works hard to reach a state of homeostasis. In times of threat and trauma, the body is primed to respond with a rush of hormones and neurotransmitters. You experience a rush of insulin, DHEA, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. The body alters its functioning, stopping repairing efforts, inhibiting your digestion, suppressing your immune system, tensing muscles, dilating your bronchial tubes, increasing your heart rate so that you can fight, run away, or power through.
The problem comes when you are under long-term, chronic stress. The body is resourceful and loyal in its efforts to keep supplying you with what you need to function under pressure. Even when you use up all of your adrenaline and cortisol, the body then steals from your sex hormones to keep up the stress hormones in the body. You can keep functioning for months or even years in a state of what experts call ‘adrenal fatigue.’
You are heading toward a burnout when you experience this adrenal fatigue. But what does it feel like to have adrenal fatigue, or be heading toward a burnout?
Well, this is when you will start experiencing the flood of negative emotions. Anger, irritability, anxiety, sadness, depression, apathy, stress, or fear threaten to overwhelm you.
Moments of joy are rare.
If you are heading for burnout, but not yet there, you will be able to suppress these negative emotions during the day at work and force yourself to just power through.
When you get done with work, the stress will not diminish. You need it to power through your tasks and responsibilities at home before you allow yourself to crash.
Wired all day, you will now have a hard time relaxing at night. You will feel too tired to do anything, and yet not relaxed. At this point, you may turn to food, alcohol, TV, or all of the above as you try to seek out a rebalancing of your brain and body.
Your sex drive is diminished or gone.
When your body is in a fight or flight response chronically, your adrenals become fatigued and stop being able to produce stress hormones. So your body starts stealing sex hormones to keep up your stress hormones. If you want to test yourself for burnout symptoms, ask yourself about your sex drive.
You get ill more often.
In a chronic state of stress, the body suppresses your immune system. Are you getting ill more often then you used to? Are you always the one in the office who catches the illness going around? A common sign you are heading for burnout is a weakened immune system.
Extreme Fatigue and Inability to Perform Anymore
Under chronic stress the continually raised levels of stress cause your internal organs to run out of the raw materials they require to produce. Overstimulated for too long, your adrenal glands weaken and then give out. Your body runs out of not only the stress hormones but your sex hormones and positive neurotransmitters.
After reading this, perhaps you understand why people are wrong when they think that burnout is a mental health problem. So many people think it is a matter or just working too hard, too long, or losing enthusiasm for their work, so they burn out.
The truth is, burnout isn’t just a mental health problem.
The body burns up the stress hormones, sex hormones, and too many neurotransmitters. The body burns up from the inside out as digestion, and immune system functioning is inhibited, and energy is taken away from restoring and repair efforts.
Of course, the brain and your sense of well-being and emotions are impacted by this burnout of the body. Negative emotions flood your system. Joy is gone. You can’t find a way to rebalance your brain, body, and feelings anymore. You are now suffering all the symptoms