Have you ever heard the term “burned out”? What does that even mean? A lot of people toss the term around as just another way to say “I’m worn out” or “I have a lot on my plate”. However, “burning out” is a real thing, and it isn’t good for your mental or physical health.
David Ballard of the American Psychology Association defines job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance” (Gerry, 2013).
The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as “a special type of job stress – a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work” (n.d.).
Both of these definitions describe burnout in the context of a job. It’s important to keep in mind that being burned out doesn’t just apply to individuals in the corporate environment. Whether you are a high powered professional, college student taking 19 credit hours a semester, or a stay at home mom, you are susceptible to becoming burned out.
Burning Out? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself
1.) Do you feel anxious? The closer you are to burnout the more problematic this may become.
2.) Do you have a hard time getting yourself to work? For example, do you have to give yourself a pep talk just to coax yourself into the office or classroom each morning?
3.) Are you irritable or impatient with those around you such as co-workers, customers, peers, professors, or other parents?
4.) Do you feel chronically fatigued or lacking the energy to be productive?
5.) Do you no longer get satisfaction from your achievements?
6.) Are you using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to not feel at all?
7.) Have your sleep habits changed in a negative way? For example, do you have insomnia?
8.) Have your eating habits or appetite changed in a negative way?
9.) Are you troubled by otherwise unexplainable physical complaints like headaches, backaches, muscle aches, or gastrointestinal (stomach) problems?
10.) Are you unable to focus or experiencing forgetfulness?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be burned out. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you should consult a doctor or mental health provider as soon as possible. It’s important to rule out any other health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms could be indicative of conditions like thyroid disorder (n.d.).
Ignoring the symptoms of being burned out may result in some pretty serious consequences which include:
- Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Debilitating headaches, muscle aches, backaches
- Type 2 diabetes
- Lowered immune system – leaving you at risk for illnesses
With all of these negative consequences, nothing is worth getting burned out. If it’s a job, there are other jobs. If it’s school, you can take less credits. If it’s being a parent, there are relaxation techniques, support groups, and hobbies that may make you feel better. Being burned out will not do anyone any good – including you.