The rat race that has become the American Way of Life has been shown to be detrimental to mental and physical health and wellness. Long hours, low wages, living paycheck-to-paycheck is the reality for a vast majority of Americans, and most people are one emergency away from financial ruin. Living in this constant state of survival mode keeps the central nervous system in overdrive instead of letting the body rest and relax in ways that allow it to heal and regenerate as it’s meant to. This constant state of being in survival mode leads to burn out. Though burn out is not a clinically diagnosable condition, it’s effects can lead to chronic mental health issues.
So what are the signs and symptoms that warn us of impending burn out? What should you look out for?
- Disengaging from work activities
When burnout creeps in, you may find yourself viewing your job as more stressful or frustrating than usual. You may grow cynical, disenchanted and listless. Your attitude may change towards the work you do and the people you work with.
- Physical signs
Chronic stress has real and lasting effect on physical health. You may experience sleep disturbances, intestinal issues, frequent headaches or migraines.
- Mental symptoms
You may feel drained, unable to focus, and frequently exhausted.
- Performance and Productivity
Burnout affects every day tasks at work and at home. You may notice you are unable to keep up with your workload or unable to stay on top of household duties and chores.
Prevention begins with healthy stress management habits. By maintaining an effective self-care regimen, you will set yourself up for handling periods of increased stress in an effective manner. Self-care is personal. There’s no right way to practice self-care. Some enjoy yoga and meditation, others just need a good night’s sleep and a regular exercise routine. Ensure your self-care hits the major self-care categories.
- Physical Self-Care includes exercise, eating well and good sleep hygiene
- Emotional Self-Care includes addressing emotional needs and engaging in pleasurable activities
- Spiritual Self-Care depends on your spiritual beliefs. Church activity, yoga, prayer and meditation can be considered spiritual self-care.
- Mental Self-Care can be as simple as journaling or playing games.
- Practical Self-Care can be as easy as checking things off your to-do list that will make your life easier.
- Social Self-Care is all about finding connection with friends or family and nurturing those relationships.
It’s a lot harder to pull yourself out of burnout than it is to prevent it. Taking a vacation or staycation may aid in recovering from burnout if it’s caught early on. Sometimes the only way out of burnout is moving to a new position that offers opportunity for a new environment, growth or new challenges. Often, it can be as easy as recommitting to your self-care plan and spending the time to nurture yourself. If you find yourself in a rut and are unable to shake the burnout, seek professional treatment as you may be at risk for more serious mental health challenges.