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Burnout Is On The Rise – Here’s What to Know About It

Are you feeling exhausted? Stressed? Unable to knock even the easiest thing off your to-do list? If so, you might be experiencing burnout – and you’re far from alone. According to a recent study, burnout is on the rise, and more than two-thirds believe the feeling has worsened over the course of the pandemic.

Here’s what to know about burnout, plus the signs of burnout at work and how to recover from burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout, according to the American Psychological Association, is characterized by emotional exhaustion, as well as negative attitudes and feelings toward one's co-workers and job role.  Burnout can be impacted by many different factors, like workload, perceived control, community, rewards, and whether your organization shares your same values.

What are the signs of burnout?

While burnout is primarily a mental health concern, it can lead to physical health issues. For example, burnout is also commonly linked to insomnia (which can create a vicious cycle, since a lack of sleep can worsen stress and anxiety). On the other hand, physical exhaustion is a sign of burnout as well.

Outside of sleep, physical signs of burnout might include headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, muscle tension, hypertension, and reduced immunity. You might also notice a change in eating habits. This can look like reaching for comfort foods more often, or losing your appetite.

Finally, burnout is also associated with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. As such, burnout symptoms can mirror the physical symptoms of depression and anxiety too. For depression, that might include muscle aches, stomachaches, sleep issues, and changes in appetite. For anxiety, that can include headaches, nausa, and shortness of breath.

How burnout impacts you

Put simply, burnout keeps you from operating at your highest capacity. Tasks that once felt simple (or even enjoyable) now seem insurmountable. You’re irritable with your colleagues, and you feel helpless about the impact you can make. Your productivity is lower, yet you can’t muster the motivation to work harder or longer hours.

How to prevent burnout at work

If you’re experiencing burnout at work or in your personal life, your first step should be to consult a medical professional (especially if you’re having physical symptoms). And because no two cases of burnout are exactly the same, a precision care doctor is uniquely positioned to evaluate all aspects of your life that might contribute to burnout. They can run advanced testing to get a comprehensive look at your genetic analysis, laboratory results, microbiome, and lifestyle factors. From there, you can work together to make a plan for reducing your specific burnout symptoms.

Your plan for reducing burnout will be unique to your needs and lifestyle, but it might include things like:

  • Start a mindfulness routine with regular meditation to reduce stress.
  • Incorporate “forest bathing” into your day.
  • Prioritize movement as a way to release endorphins and disconnect from your devices.
  • Set boundaries that help you maintain a work-life balance (for example, taking your work email off your phone or resolving not to check emails during dinner).