Author Note: This article is part of a collection from the previously lost Bordering Bears website, and has thus been re-uploaded and archived.
A lot can be said for resilience, but there is such a thing as trying too hard for too long.
We have collated 10 signs and symptoms of emotional burnout that you may find helpful to use when judging whether you’re at risk. Remember, this doesn’t mean work up until you reach these signs, as that won’t be good for your long-term health.
If you feel like you’re struggling with your mental health, emotional health or stress management, remember to speak to a trained medical professional.
- Appetite changes
Has your appetite changed recently? Perhaps you’ve been eating more than usual to make yourself feel better. Or maybe eating less because you’ve been so busy, or simply find the thought of food repulsive. Does this change coincide with another big change or level of stress in your life? If so, it could be due to a burnout. If not, there could be an underlying health problem. Either way, it is important you speak to a Doctor to rule out any other health conditions and to gain support.
- Sleep changes
Do you feel constantly lethargic and like you need to sleep? Even after a full 8 hours? Or do you toss and turn each night unable to relax and fall asleep? If so, this could be a sign of too much stress in your life and that you may be heading for a burnout. Speak to a Doctor if stress is causing you severe problems with your sleep. Otherwise, it may be worth speaking to a partner, family member or employer to see if there’s ways the stress can be minimised.
- You feel demotivated
If you no longer have the drive to do your work, socialise with people, play games or even to get out of bed, there’s a high chance you are burned out. This, according to an expert, is due to the emotional and mental burnout sapping all your energy!
- Difficulty concentrating
We all have times where we find it difficult to focus on our work, however if this is becoming a recurring problem and spilling over into your home life, leisure and conversations with people, it may be worth considering that you need a break.
- Negative attitude
It is completely normal for everyone to feel a bit gloomy sometimes, but if you are suddenly more pessimistic than usual, or people around you are commenting that you don’t seem like your usual self, then it may be time to look into your lifestyle and see if there’s anything that could be causing you stress and subsequent burnout.
If you keep feeling like you really don’t care about what you’re doing, what’s going on around you or, more importantly, anything regarding the safety of yourself or others, that would be a clear signal that you may be reaching a burnout and should talk to a Doctor ASAP. Emotional numbness occurs when you simply don’t have the energy to engage.
Emotional stress can manifest physically. If you’ve got a lot going on and are suddenly inundated with unexplained headaches, it’s probably a good sign you should be stepping back and giving yourself a break. It may be worth seeking medical guidance in case the headaches are a sign of other types or illness.
- Getting ill more often
Stress affects the immune system. If you normally avoid the common colds and bugs going round, but suddenly you’re catching everything and it’s hitting you hard, stress may be to blame. A reduction of stress will help your immune system recover. That may be easier said than done, so speak to those around you to gain support.
Do you normally support people’s achievements but suddenly find yourself resentful and bitter for things that other people have? This can be another clear indicator that your emotional health is at breaking point and needs support.
Even if you already have problems with anxiety it can still be a sign of emotional burnout. If you find yourself worrying more than normal, or becoming increasingly agitated by irrational fears, it is worth gaining some support and help from a medical professional.
There’s a variety of other symptoms, that may point towards far too much stress in your life, that can be found on the attached links within the article. If you are facing any of these, please get support. There is no shame in admitting you’ve reached your limit, nor in gaining help.
I have had medical support several times due to emotional burnout and have found, for myself at least, that if I leave these feelings unchecked for too long it can actually become dangerous for my mental health and lead to an actual breakdown.
If you know someone who these signs may be useful to, please feel free to share this with them.
Again, as with my other posts, I wish to stress that I am not a medical professional, but did get my facts from reputable sources who I have linked within.
If you, or someone you care about, is in crisis, please remember to check the HELP page for a list of professional contacts.