Do you have the tell-tale signs of burnout?

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Do you have the tell-tale signs of burnout?

My post today is designed to help you recognise the signs of burnout in yourself, your family and your work colleagues.

Burnout is much talked about, but its protean manifestations and the way it varies from person to person are not as well known. The pandemic has increased the frequency and range of situations in which burnout occurs.

It’s crucial to recognise the early tell-tale signs of what can become a chronic stress disorder. You need to act decisively and get help if necessary because you can prevent burnout from progressing and overcome it if has developed.

Burnout is characterised by three clusters of signs and symptoms that occur along a continuum when the transient and minor become persistent and severe.

Physical and emotional exhaustion

Cynicism and detachment

  • Chronic fatigue with a lack of energy and feeling tired most days
  • Loss of enjoyment, initially mild not wanting to go to work to avoid getting involved
  • Insomnia initially on a couple of nights a week, later every night
  • Pessimism presenting as negative self-talk, moving to the glass always being half-full
  • Impaired concentration with a lack of focus and bouts of forgetfulness
  • Isolation, starting as mild resistance and progressing to socialising to avoiding people
  • Physical ailments, including chest pains, palpitations, dizziness and headaches
  • Detachment feeling disconnected from and an observer of your environment
  • Frequent minor illnesses due to a depleted immunity with infections

Lack of accomplishment

  • Loss of appetite progressing from skipping a few meals to losing a good deal of weight
  • Apathy and hopelessness with a general sense of ‘What’s the point?’
  • Anxiety progressing from feeling tense, edgy and worried to becoming immobilised
  • Increased irritability that interferes with personal and professional relationships
  • Depression progressing from mildly sad to feeling hopeless and trapped
  • Lack of productivity, resulting in work not being completed and a growing to-do list
  • Anger initially presenting as tension and progressing to outbursts and arguments
  • Becoming ineffectiveness at home and work by stop-start and giving up too easily

Experiencing some of the symptoms and signs should be a wake-up call that you’re on a risk-laden path. Use the resources below and, if you’re still worried, I recommend you consult a health professional.

How to prevent burnout before it sets in, or recover if you’re already suffering from burnout

There are many resources on this subject; here’s a cross-section of those I recommend.

Download a PDF version of this blog

This post was written by Dr Margaret Beaton, a director of Beaton Executive Coaching and Beaton Research + Consulting. You can also find Margaret on LinkedIn.