7 warning signs you're heading towards burnout
We've all seen the hashtags, the motivational quotes, and the Instagram stories of professional, hard-working women crushing it 24/7. But let's get real for a moment. The concept of "hustle culture" that glorifies non-stop work and success can push us toward an elusive idea of perfection that's not all it's cracked up to be.
We’re all willing to accept a certain amount of stress in our careers and in our lives, but sometimes it can cause us to neglect our work-life balance, lose sight of our health and leads us to a troubling condition known as burnout.
What is burnout?
What happens in your body when you face a stressful situation? Well, cortisol, the main stress hormone, triggers changes in the body that help you react to stressors. This includes things like raising blood sugar levels and slowing down “non-essential” functions to make sure you have enough energy to handle a difficult situation.
While a little stress now and then can give you the push you need to excel in your daily life and career, constantly elevated cortisol levels are a lot for the body to handle. Eventually, non-stop stress might lead to burnout – a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that’s much harder to recover from.
So, before it gets that far, let’s have a look at how you can spot when your stress symptoms are reaching the point of crossing over to burnout symptoms territory!
7 warning signs of burnout you shouldn’t ignore
1. Constant tiredness
Not the “I stayed up too late watching Netflix” kind. It's a relentless, pervasive exhaustion that seeps into every muscle and thought. Even after a full night's sleep or a weekend off, you wake up feeling as if you've run a marathon, with no energy to face the day ahead.
2. Lack of motivation and focus
Stress can alter brain circuits, making it hard to focus and resist interruptions. Work tasks that you once tackled with ease now seem overwhelming. Mistakes become more frequent, and the quality of your work suffers.
3. Mood swings
Your emotions become unpredictable. One moment, you're on the verge of tears over a minor setback like a spilled cup of coffee; the next, you're feeling a deep numbness, disconnected from your surroundings and loved ones.
4. Interpersonal problems
Pulling away from friends, family, or colleagues? Unlike just needing some “me time”, withdrawing too much could be a subconscious attempt to protect your dwindling emotional reserves.
5. Not taking care of yourself
The dip in energy and motivation can disrupt your typical self-care routine. You might start skipping your usual pre-bedtime skincare ritual, lack the inspiration to put together outfits, and find any excuse to miss those workouts you used to love.
6. Too little or too much appetite
Some days, you might have zero appetite, feeling like eating is just a tiresome task. Other days, you might turn to comfort foods, overindulging to cope with rising stress and emotions.
7. Physical signs of stress
Beyond the mental and emotional toll, your body starts showing signs of protest. Frequent headaches, unexplained aches, digestive issues, or sudden weight fluctuations can become part of your daily life.
Tips for combating the warning signs of burnout
If you don’t know where to start, meditation or breathing exercises can help provide you with helpful relaxation techniques that you can return to whenever you’re struggling.
Exercise is another great way to combat stress – even if it’s just a short walk, gentle stretches, a 10-minute relaxing yoga flow… Every little bit can help get those happiness hormones going and boost your mood.
Don’t forget about rest! Take a warm shower or bath before heading to bed to relax, avoid screens and read a book instead, and jot down your worries in your journal beforehand, allowing you to clear your mind and make space for peaceful dreams.
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