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Understanding Burnout

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion/collapse caused by excessive prolonged stress and overwork (2019). It can take weeks, months, and even years to fully recover from, depending on the severity of the imbalance and the level of focused attention on recovery, but it can be reversed.

Some of the most important things someone suffering from burnout can have on their side are time to recover, a plan for self-care and recovery, a solid support network, compassion for themselves, good boundaries, and a new, more balanced schedule to step into.

In May of 2019, The World Health Organization classified "burn-out" as an "occupational phenomenon", not a medical condition.

According to researchers at Harvard Business School and Stanford University's Graduate School of Business (2016), stressful jobs contribute to 120,000 deaths each year and cost U.S. Businesses up to $190 billion in health care costs.

Common Signs of Burnout:

Physical symptoms:

Feeling exhausted most of the time

Change in appetite

Change in sleep patterns

Loss of focus and mental clarity

Low immunity and frequent illness

Physical issues: headaches, joint/muscle pain, ulcers, heart palpitations, chest pains 


Emotional symptoms:

Loss of joy


Increased irritability and anger/rage

Feelings of continuous overwhelm and anxiety

Feelings of failure and self-doubt

Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated

Feeling alone in the world

Feeling detached

Loss of empathy

Loss of motivation

Increasingly cynical and negative outlook

Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment


Behavioral symptoms:

Withdrawing from responsibilities

Isolating yourself from others

Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done than in the past

Using food, drugs, alcohol, television, or other forms of escapism to cope/numb

Taking out frustrations on others/short temper

Skipping work, coming in late, leaving early

Causes of Burnout:

Little or no control over your work/schedule

Lack of recognition or reward for your work

Unclear or overly demanding job expectations

Monotonous or unchallenging work

High-pressure or chaotic work environment

Lack of self-care/personal time

Lack of boundaries

Lack of balance in work/play/rest/sleep time

Lack of close, supportive relationships

Being on the receiving end of bullying or gaslighting


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