• 03/24/2021

What Is the Meaning of Burnout and How Can You Prevent It?

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Modern society praises people who devote all of their time and energy to productivity. Anyone who works multiple jobs to provide for themselves and their loved ones becomes a superhero, but living with intense stress isn’t sustainable. Everyone should learn the meaning of burnout and discover how to prevent it to enjoy life while chasing their goals.

Once you know what burnout means, you’ll figure out how to prepare yourself for anything that comes your way. It only takes a little bit of time to take care of your health and keep burnout from disrupting your life.

What Does Burnout Mean?

Everyone’s tired when they finish work or school and head home for the day. Low energy and stress turn into burnout when you ignore your body’s requests for help. You might push through late-night hours to finish more work or tackle household chores that could wait until tomorrow.

Burnout has a slightly different definition for everyone because no one responds to stress the same way. It’s a physical and mental state where prolonged stress makes you resent yourself, your job or your life. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself or unhappy with where you are in life, you’re likely in a burnout episode.

What Are Burnout Symptoms?

Anyone can spot burnout because it appears in two ways — physical and mental symptoms. Check out a few of the most common ways people respond to burnout and reflect on your recent experiences with work or school.

Common Physical Symptoms

Chronic stress disrupts every bodily system by overproducing stress hormones. It’s your body’s reaction to keeping you alive during fight or flight moments. When those moments are short-lived, these functions might save your life. Long-term effects of stress hormones result in common physical burnout symptoms.

During burnout, you’ll likely feel exhausted all the time. Your body might gain weight or direct energy away from normal functions like reproductive cycles or digestion. 

You could also unknowingly tense your muscles. Your neck and back might ache from constant tension, even when you think you feel relaxed between classes or meetings.

Constant stress also weakens your immune system, so you could get sick more frequently during life’s most demanding moments.

Common Mental Symptoms

While you’re dealing with physical signs of burnout, you’ll also experience mental symptoms. Stress increases the intensity of your moods, makes it difficult to focus and changes how quickly your mood changes to anger or annoyance.

Mental symptoms exacerbate physical symptoms as well. Intense stress could trigger frequent stress dreams that disrupt your sleep cycle. You’ll never get the chance to rest and recover from whatever challenging events happened during the day.

How Can You Prevent Burnout?

Burnout may seem like an unavoidable part of life because no one can live a stress-free life. It’s actually easy to prevent if you strategize your response with helpful tips like these.

Start Self-Care Habits

Self-care is a long-term strategy that prevents burnout by catering to your specific stress responses. You might feel more at peace after an evening walk, a warm bath or silencing your phone notifications. Reflect on how you’ve felt when stress piled up to determine which self-care efforts would help you the most.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider trying breathing exercises. They alleviate intense anxiety symptoms by instantly calming your heart rate and increasing oxygen flow to your brain. Practice them anytime and anywhere stress begins to build so you never have to worry about burnout.

Eat a Healthier Diet

Stress isn’t just a mental battle. It also affects your physical body, especially if you eat an unhealthy diet. Stress spikes your blood pressure and results in hypertension symptoms like heart and organ damage. Foods like sugar and processed carbs add to your increased blood pressure and intensify these physical burnout symptoms.

Combat and prevent burnout by comparing healthy dietary lifestyles and finding one that works with your health goals. Avoiding meat products or cutting out animal products are a few easy ways to make your diet fight stress on a cellular level.

Get More Sleep

Getting more sleep is always a good idea. If your body can’t recharge through your sleep cycle, it won’t function throughout the day. Stress will take advantage of this physical weakness and make every burnout symptom more severe.

Go to bed earlier and limit screen time before going to sleep. You’ll fall asleep faster and feel more refreshed, even if you wake up to another day with an intense schedule.

Talk With Your Boss

If your boss is a positive mentor figure, talk with them about your stressors. They should want to hear you out and strategize how to handle your schedule more effectively. They might split some of your responsibilities so other team members shoulder the workload with you. The best solutions depend on your job and how your manager can work with you to defeat burnout.

Speak With a Therapist

Therapists understand the complexity of burnout, so they’re the best resource to help you tackle it. If your insurance doesn’t cover mental health appointments, find an affordable therapist that offers a sliding-scale fee or works with a community center. They’ll schedule meetings that work with your schedule so the act of getting help doesn’t add to your stress.

Learn the Meaning of Burnout to Prevent It

Burnout has a different meaning for everyone, but it all comes from the same place. Think about what causes you the most daily stress to identify solutions and prevention methods. With a bit of time and practice, you’ll defeat your burnout and know how to fight it more effectively when life gets more stressful again.

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