Irritability? Weight gain ? Sleep disorders? They can all be signs of burnout
When you think of burnout, you might imagine a completely exhausted person with their feet on the couch at the end of a stressful work week.
Classically, experts refer to burnout as the triad of depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and feelings of cynicism, detachment, and lack of accomplishment. Many definitions, including that of the World Health Organization (WHO), specify that burnout refers to work-related stress.
But burnout can also result from non-work stress and lead to less obvious symptoms.
Burnout can be the result of a job or a specific set of responsibilities (such as being the primary caregiver for a chronically ill spouse or child), but its effects tend to affect other facets of life as well. In general, people increasingly feel that they feel physically and mentally unwell and have difficulty coping with their daily lives.
The symptoms of burnout professional exhaustion can therefore be very varied
Symptoms of burnout can overlap with those of depression and other mental health issues, but burnout in and of itself is not a medical diagnosis.
Because burnout can have such wide-ranging and detrimental effects on health and well-being, it’s important to recognize it and act on it. If left untreated, burnout has lasting physical consequences and takes a toll on your relationships and ability to work.
Here are eight less common signs of burnout:
1. Lots of pessimism
A person experiencing burnout may adopt a critical and pessimistic attitude, not only towards the cause of the burnout (a job or other burden), but also towards the world around him. . At work, this means she may have a more negative attitude towards customers and be more irritable in general. You may be bored or apathetic as if you have no purpose or meaning in what you are doing. In the most extreme cases of burnout, a person may question whether life is worth living.
2. Sleep difficulties
People tend to have less restful sleep when they start to struggle with burnout. Restlessness and insomnia are two sleep problems linked to burnout. Lack of sleep can end up fueling burnout (in a vicious cycle) because you’re less able to think clearly when you’re not well rested.
3. Stomach or headache
Do you have a stomach ache or headache and you don’t know why? Burnout could be the cause. A study of social workers who reported experiencing burnout found that about 9% suffered from headaches and 10% from gastrointestinal problems. Burnout-related headaches are likely the result of psychological stress, according to a systematic review published in 2017. And stomach issues, such as pain, bloating and nausea, tend to be more common as soon as we are stressed. Stress can also cause diarrhea or constipation.
4. Decreased immunity
Catching more colds and feeling bad about yourself can be a symptom of burnout. The immune system is weakened. Stress can trigger the body’s inflammatory response, and chronic inflammation can compromise the immune system and damage body tissues, research shows. If your immune system is weakened, you may have more frequent colds and put yourself at risk for serious illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
5. Weight gain
People experiencing burnout can gain weight. There are several reasons for this. “It’s a combination of things, your body’s biological response increases the likelihood of weight gain, coupled with reduced sleep, depression and changing eating habits. All of these factors can contribute to weight gain.
The biological changes he refers to relate to the stress hormone, cortisol. Chronic stress (like that which leads to burnout) elevates cortisol levels, and high cortisol levels have been linked to a larger waist circumference and an increased likelihood of overweight and obesity, according to a study. study from 2017. If weight gain becomes a problem, it can increase the risk of other health problems, such as stroke, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Exhausted people may feel like nothing they do is appreciated or makes a difference. Therefore, they can isolate themselves from others. Ultimately, this can lead to a deterioration in relationships, says Ms. Wheeler. And it doesn’t help get you out of exhaustion: Social contact can relieve stress and is a recommended way to help you start feeling better.
7. Muscle pain
Body aches can also be a physical sign of burnout. When you are stressed, your muscles automatically tense up to protect the body from pain and injury. Usually this muscle tension relaxes when the stress passes, but chronic stress causes the body to stay in that stressed state and retain that tension. Typical places where the body holds tension are the shoulders, neck, head, and back.
8. Use of food, drugs or alcohol to cope
In some cases, some people self-medicate to deal with burnout. Some turn to junk food, which provides immediate gratification. Others may turn to alcohol or drugs. A 2016 study found that medical students experiencing burnout were more likely to abuse or depend on alcohol.
If you catch yourself exhibiting these signs, it may be time to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. They can help you develop strategies to avoid or recover from burnout and can recommend prescription medication or counseling if needed.