What really happens to your body when you’re burnt out
We all experience some level of stress in our day to day lives, but as things build up and build up, from family obligations to work deadlines, that stress can lead to burnout. And that’s when it really become problematic. Burnout is real, and it’s a diagnosable condition with some pretty bad mental and physical symptoms (via Forbes).
Verywellmind goes into the history of the term burnout. Coined by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, he used it to mean, “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” It’s not just about being overly tired or stressed, but it’s a state where you just literally can’t work anymore from the emotional demands placed on you with your work.
Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter described burnout in World Psychiatry as “a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job.” And it “has been recognized as an occupational hazard for various people‐oriented professions, such as human services, education, and health care.”
It’s something that creeps up on you slowly over time that will leave you unable to function day to day as a person, even outside of work, And it isn’t just in your head; along with the emotional detachment, there are negative physical impacts.
Burnout isn't only psychological; it causes physical problems
Early stages of burnout could physically manifest as a loss of energy, insomnia, or chronic fatigue (via Psychology Today). Those are some of the warning signs of burnout. If you don’t address the underlying stress issues and workplace problems (and that workplace can be in the home and/or outside of it), things can get progressively worse and start to impact more and other parts of your body.
As burnout gets worse, so do the physical symptoms. The problems it can cause include things like headaches, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems (via Psychology Today).
Since its symptoms can mimic those of other health concerns (via informedhealth.org), so always check in with your doctor and be honest about how you’re feeling to help get the right treatment.
Try to head off burnout as soon as the symptoms start to rear their heads. Some potential ways to address burnout from the Mayo Clinic include getting support from loved ones, figuring out with a supervisor at work some ways to change expectations, exercising, and meditating.
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