We’ve all been there – you’re in a boring work meeting, your boss’s words fade away as you zone out, and before you know it they sound like the adults on Charlie Brown… wah wahwahwah wah.
We don’t like to admit it (and we certainly won’t admit it to our boss), but late nights at the office and early mornings trying to wrangle kids can leave us exhausted at work. But, not all exhaustion is the same.
Emotional burnout is a period of chronic stress where you feel constantly exhausted. But it’s more than feeling tired – there are many other symptoms that can be attributed to burnout stress.
Do you want to know what they are? Keep reading to learn 10 common signs of emotional burnout.
Do you feel like no matter what you do you can’t get enough sleep? You may get a solid 8 hours of sleep at night but still be dragging your feet all day.
Extreme fatigue is one of the first sigs on emotional burnout. So be aware if you feel physically tired for days at a time despite getting a full night’s rest. Although, some also experience trouble sleeping at night, which can make daily fatigue much worse.
Not only do people feel physically tired, but they feel mentally exhausted as well. You may feel like you can’t handle daily tasks or and mentally check-out for the day even though it’s only 11 o’clock in the morning.
2. Brain Fog
Have you ever gone through the day on autopilot? While this happens to many of us during our daily commute or while doing monotonous tasks, sometimes it can happen all day.
If you’ve ever experienced brain fog, you know how frustrating and impossible it can seem to still be productive.
Feeling foggy makes it hard to concentrate, and in some people can also lead to confusion and forgetfulness. If you’re overworked and burnt out, it’s common to experience increased periods of foggy thinking.
Overachievers and those who work high-stress jobs are more prone to emotional burnout than others. So, when someone who always finds ways to stay motivated suddenly procrastinates doing the simplest task, a huge red flag pops up.
Your brain’s way of dealing with emotional burnout is to try and get you to take a break. On the outside, this manifests as not being motivated, but it’s really your head screaming for some time off.
This doesn’t just affect how you act at work, though. It may also cause you to push off cleaning until the dishes are overflowing and dirty laundry is piled all around your bedroom. You may also forgo cooking in favour of takeout even though you’re normally on top of cooking and cleaning.
4. Decrease in Work Performance
It’s no secret that feeling unmotivated can lead to a decrease in work performance. You may normally nitpick your work until it’s perfect but now submit it without even reviewing it at all.
Procrastinating while at work, coming to work late, and skipping work altogether when you are normally very responsible are also telltale signs of emotional burnout.
5. Feeling Defeated
Have you ever had those days where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong? This can be enough to ruin your whole day.
But for those with emotional burnout, any small thing, from losing their phone charger to forgetting lunch at home, could lead to feeling defeated – sometimes it surfaces for no reason at all. Feeling emotionally exhausted and feeling defeated tend to go hand in hand for many people.
We’ve all experienced those days where we didn’t get enough sleep and felt irritable the next day. Imagine dealing with that every single day.
Physical exhaustion can lead to mood swings and irritability. If you’ve been snapping at the smallest inconveniences for a few days now, there’s a chance it may be from burnout stress.
Of course, irritability doesn’t just affect you. It also affects the people around you.
If you are lashing out or being short-tempered around your loved ones, you could be damaging your relationship. Your spouse may be left trying to find ways to cope with an irritable partner.
While yesterday may have been awful, most people are able to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a new day. If you constantly feel like tomorrow will be just as bad as today or are feeling your life is going nowhere, you may be showing signs of exhaustion and burnout.
Pessimism can be debilitating. It can cause many other emotional symptoms, like irritability and feeling defeated, to increase and it can be hard to shake.
You may feel like there’s no point in working hard, attributing it to reasons that may not even be true, like you’ll never get a raise or there’s no future with the company. This could lead to big life changes, like getting fired or quitting without a backup.
8. Loss of Appetite
Think about what you used to eat in a day. Did you used to grab a hot breakfast sandwich before work, indulge in a nice-sized lunch, enjoy a protein-packed dinner, and still have room for a snack or two throughout the day?
If your appetite dropped and you’re only eating a small dinner and barely and lunch now, this could be due to emotional burnout. While this may seem like a big change, it can be easy to miss. If you’re not hungry or dieting, you likely aren’t scrutinizing your meals and eating habits.
9. Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are some of the most common mental health ailments. In fact, 350,000,000 people around the world have some form of depression.
You may have noticed some of these burnout symptoms can also be symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, such as loss of appetite, lack of motivation, irritability, fatigue, and trouble sleeping.
Stress can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing.
Burnout can cause an onset of anxiety or depression, even in those who haven’t struggled with it in the past.
When your burnout reaches its peak, you may become consumed with negative thoughts and feelings of defeat. This could lead to you feeling trapped or helpless in your life and cause you to make snap decisions, like quitting your job or moving to another city.
On the other hand, your burnout could manifest closer to depression. You may begin to skip work, lose your appetite, and become unmotivated to even leave your bed or take part in daily care for yourself.
Of course, those who already suffer from anxiety or depression may reach these peaks faster than those who don’t. It’s important to recognize the signs of emotional burnout, so you can overcome it before it peaks in anxiety or depression.
10. Physical Pain
There’s no denying that your brain is a powerful organ. In fact, it’s so powerful that emotional distraught often manifests in physical pain.
That’s right, stress and burnout can cause physical reactions, such as headaches, chest pain, and heart palpitations. You may find that they subside as you take over the counter pain medications but just pop back up as soon as it wears off.
However, you shouldn’t assume these are just symptoms of burnout as they could also be symptoms of a more serious health condition. Be sure to get checked out by a doctor if you have any persisting physical pain.
How to Overcome Emotional Burnout
Alright, so now that you know all the signs and symptoms, what can you do about it?
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that surviving your emotional burnout involves having fun. Partake in your hobbies, spend time with friends, go on a vacation, enjoy the benefits of yoga—really anything that makes you happy.
The next step is to get your health back on track. Exercising and eating right are more important for your emotional health than you think. They can help you sleep better, boost your mood, and increase your energy levels.
Use this newfound energy to focus on positive thinking. Be proud of your job but learn how to say “no” to tasks that you can’t handle. Work hard but don’t sacrifice your work-life balance.
Take a Breather
Don’t let your job take over your life. If you’re overworked and exhausted, you may be suffering from the many symptoms of emotional burnout. It’s important to take a breather and enjoy your life before your symptoms cause turmoil in your work or family life.
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