Burnout or Rough Day?


There is a difference between a period of bad days and serious burnout. Burnout is something that creeps up on you and may be accompanied by a variety of mental and health symptoms. It is a reaction to chronic or prolonged stress and is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of self doubt and lack of accomplishment. It leads to an inability to successfully function on a personal, social and professional level. The stress that contributes to burnout may stem from your job, however stress from your overall lifestyle can add to this, and begin to feel less capable at work and on the home front you start showing signs of burnout.

Emotional and Physical Exhaustion

People who are diagnosed with burnout usually describe experiencing a complete lack of energy that manifests itself physically. This troubled state results in debilitating fears of dread for what the day will bring. Basic tasks become chores and although exhausted, people with burnout often have trouble sleeping and can develop chronic insomnia. With the inability to rest and recharge, focus and concentration become compromised and eventually physical symptoms manifest. Some of these can include panic attacks, migraines, chest pains and troubled breathing.

Cynicism and Detachment

Burnout makes you feel that nothing is going to turn out well, while you may have been a person who sees the “glass half full”, burnout may cause you to feel that the “glass is half empty”. Those suffering from burnout tend to become perpetual pessimists. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and the inability to connect to the empathy offered by others is commonplace. Eventually, fueled by a desire to shut everyone out, they move to a place of isolation. The feelings of helplessness transitions to one of hopelessness.

Feelings of Self-doubt and Lack of accomplishment

Usually people experiencing burnout are still capable of day to day functions. They still get to work, get the job done and handle their household duties. However these are carried out in a robotic like manner with little or no zest or pleasure, things that once seemed easy, now seem overwhelming. Although they are physically present,  they become a shell of their former selves and are keenly aware of their inadequacy. As you can imagine, this only perpetuates the feelings of self doubt and lack of accomplishment.

We can no longer deny the fact that burnout is becoming a global phenomenon and one that is threatening the very fabric of society. There is a worldwide move toward a holistic approach and integrative medicine which is less symptom based and supports the whole person.

While some health care schemes support and reward better lifestyles, it is imperative that these schemes create awareness and work on methods to support those who are suffering from burnout. We need to consider ways to spark awareness and cultivate more sustainable change in lifestyle and behavior that supports body, mind and heart.

Candice Schmidt
Author: Candice Schmidt