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Are You Dealing With Burnout?

Amber Brandt  |  October 19, 2021
For the past few years, society has collectively experienced an increased level of stress, emotional demands, and an ever-changing landscape of risk. It has taken a toll on everyone. But how do you know if what you’re feeling is simply an adjustment to a “new normal” or if it’s burnout? Experts identify the most common signs of burnout as:
  1. Alienation from work-related activities. People suffering from burnout often feel cynical or resentful toward their work (even if they’re a stay-at-home parent whose work isn’t outside the home). These individuals view their tasks as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may find themselves attempting to emotionally distance themselves from work.
  2. Physical symptoms. Headaches, insomnia, fatigue, stomach aches, or intestinal issues are all largely connected to chronic stress.
  3. Emotional depletion. Feeling drained, unable to cope, and exhaustion are all associated with burnout.
  4. Reduced performance. Burnout causes people to experience a lack of creativity or have difficulty concentrating. 
In their popular book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski recognize that everyone experiences stress, but whether or not you allow your body to process the “stressors” is what matters. “The good news is that stress is not the problem. It’s how we deal with stress – not what causes it – that releases the stress, completes the cycle, and ultimately, keeps us from burning out. You can’t control every external stressor that comes your way. The goal isn’t to live in a state of perpetual balance and peace and calm; the goal is to move through stress to calm, so that you’re ready for the next stressor, and to move from effort to rest and back again… Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you…”
Here are 6 simple, evidence-based strategies for processing stress so you can avoid burnout:
  1. Physical activity. This could include going for a walk, dancing, jumping jacks, or punching a pillow. Because stress is physical in nature, physical activity can help release it.
  2. Creativity. Knit, paint, sing, write… however you best express. Do it.
  3. Laughter. Have you ever found yourself breaking into contagious laughter with a friend after a good hard cry? Cracking up is a natural mood lifter and provides relief to complete the stress cycle.
  4. Physical affection. A good, strong hug or time with a pet can help the body release oxytocin, slow the heart rate, and help you experience a sense of safety.
  5. Deep breathing. Here’s a simple practice: breathe in slowly for five seconds, hold that breath for the count of five, then exhale for 10 seconds. This intentional breathing can signal an end to the fight-or-flight stress response in the body.
If you think you’re experiencing burnout or find yourself struggling to sort through emotions, it’s important to seek support from loved ones or licensed professionals. Life throws a lot at you, you don’t have to suffer alone.