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4 Important Signs of Burnout You Need To Know

April 15, 2021

Tired, irritable, cynical. Sound like you?

 

You could be dealing with burnout.

 

Burnout is not uncommon for the ambitious among us, including entrepreneurs. We want to do everything we can to ensure success, which can mean a single-minded devotion to our work, at the expense of all else. That continual focus can be exhausting, though. That exhaustion can lead to burnout.

 

Burnout is not an immediate reaction. It does not appear overnight. Instead, burnout is an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that forms over a period of time due to extreme amounts of stress. All areas of your life can be affected by burnout and once one area is affected, it’s like an oil spill. It leaks into every aspect of your life.

 

There are physical, emotional, and behavioral signs of burnout and their symptoms often overlap.

person frustrated and burned out

Signs of Burnout

Behavioral: detachment, irritability

Those experiencing burnout will distance themselves from their responsibilities and from those around them. This feeling of distancing or detachment is often accompanied by a feeling of numbness. While some feel numbness, though, others feel angry and cynical about everything lately.

Physical: fatigue, illness, headaches

Early on, this can mean having a lack of energy and feeling tired a lot. As time goes on, a person with burnout may experience large bouts of exhaustion, feeling both emotionally and physically drained.

Being in a constant state of stress will take a toll on a person’s body. If you’ve been sick a lot lately, this could be why. Feeling depleted not only wreaks havoc on your mind, but also your body. Since your body is depleted, your immune system is weakened. This leaves you vulnerable. Burnout can manifest itself as stomachaches, headaches, and persistent illnesses.

Emotional: self-doubt, lack of motivation and productivity

Does it seem like no matter what you do, your to-do list keeps growing? Are you leaving a trail of incomplete projects? You might be coping with burnout. Chronic stress leads you to be less productive than you once were and struggle with feeling defeated and alone in the world.

person frustrated at computer

Causes of Burnout

Essentially, chronic stress without the proper channels of release and support can cause burnout. Stress can become chronic when it feels like it continually piles up, whether that be from school, work, or other areas of your life.  Here are some ways that the pile up can occur:

Heavy Workload

Becoming overwhelmed by large amounts of work is sure to make even the most optimistic person feel helpless.

Poor Work/Life Balance

If work is taking so much of your time that you’re not able to spend time with your friends and family, you’re sure to burnout quickly. This also means that having a proper support system of friends and family can be valuable.

Lack of Control

Feeling as though you have no control over your workload and your schedule can cause burnout, especially if you lack the resources you need.

Ambiguity

If you don’t know what is expected of you, you may become exhausted trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing.

person at computer frustrated

How to Avoid Burnout

Exercise

Getting up and getting out helps to relieve stress and raises your sense of well-being. On top of that, exercising helps you get a good night’s sleep which is beneficial in improving your well-being and avoiding burnout.

Analyze

What is expected of you and what isn’t? To take some things off your plate, delegate or cut out some less important tasks. Analyze your job and your projects. Make sure that the amount of tasks is reasonable, so you’re less likely to become overwhelmed. 

Make Time to Recharge

Working all day, every day, without quality breaks will lead you to become bored and dissatisfied. Find what recharges you. Do you need to get together with friends or family? Do you need some quiet time with a good book? Make time for things that leave you feeling refreshed.

Find Equalizers

You won’t be able to alleviate all the stress you encounter, but you can find activities that act as buffers. Find a hobby, volunteer, choose to do something that makes you happy. Instead of expecting your job to fill every need, seek opportunities outside your job to fulfill your core needs. Volunteer at an organization that makes you feel appreciated. Maybe you decide to spend times with friends to feel a sense of belonging and closeness. These activities might seem insignificant, but they can act as buffers against the drain of work.

Ask for Help

Sounds so simple. Yet, it is the hardest to do. Don’t let pride be the reason you’re suffering. If you need something clarified because you don’t understand, ask. If you’re afraid to ask with everyone around (such as in a meeting or in a class), take down questions on a notepad and approach the person when they are alone. Furthermore, if you’re stuck on a project, find someone who looks like they have a little time on their hands to ask if they wouldn’t mind taking a look. A fresh perspective never hurts.

person frustrated at computer

What to Do When You Have Signs of Burnout

Recognize

You need to first recognize the signs of burnout. Are you feeling drained, cynical, and beat down? If you find yourself saying yes, then you need to find out what exactly is making you feel this way. Ignoring the signs of burnout will only make you feel worse. Burnout does not go away on its own.

Reverse

To minimize the damage caused by burnout, you can learn new ways to manage your stress. Seek support. If you feel like you’re in a rut, ask for new responsibilities and roles. Just be careful not to overload yourself.

Redo

Burnout is a sign that something in your life is not working. This could be an opportunity for you to change things up. Look for a new role where you’re at or completely remove yourself and find something new. Switching things up is a sure-fire way to end burnout.

women at coffee together

If you find yourself experiencing signs of burnout, you need to act now. Left unchecked, you could be headed down a dark path. Burnout does not go away after a few weeks. Instead, it gets worse if you don’t make changes in your life.

 

Successful entrepreneurs plan not just for the success of their companies, but for their own physical, emotional, and behavioral success. Ensure you frequently take a few moments to assess your stress levels and incorporate habits to keep from entrepreneurial burnout.

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