Burnout. It’s more than just a buzzword. If you think you experienced it in the last year, you’re not alone: One study found that burnout was the main reason that three out of four women in senior-level positions thought about downshifting or leaving their careers.
The result of unmanaged chronic stress. That’s how the WHO classified it in 2019.
Made up of three parts (but you don’t need all of them to have it):
Physical or emotional exhaustion
Cynicism and detachment
Decreased sense of accomplishment or productivity
More than a workplace issue. Although the WHO has called it an “occupational phenomenon,” scientists and mental health professionals say burnout can appear in any area of life. See: motherhood.
It can feel like...
Anxiety and depression. They affect your mental health and can be associated with burnout.
A heart issue. An irregular heartbeat, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes are all potential side effects.
An energy sap. That feeling like you’re dragging yourself through the day isn’t something to shrug off.
Brain fog. Stress hormones that can come with burnout might make it hard to think and focus.
A dark cloud. Burnout could make you irritable and cynical about daily tasks. And it could cause you to overeat, retreat, and overdo it on drugs and alcohol.
A bad night’s sleep. Insomnia could be a side effect.
A stomachache. Your digestive system can suffer when you’re burned out (think: stomach pains, diarrhea, or nausea).
It’s caused by…
Isolation. And loneliness is something that millennials are particularly susceptible to, especially during a pandemic.
Long work hours. Those are also linked to an increased risk of death from stroke and heart disease. Oof.
Being ‘on’ all the time. If you’re reachable by email, DMs, text, and Zoom 24/7 that can eliminate normal boundaries. And a sense of control.
‘Invisible labor.' That term describes the never-ending household chores and caregiving that disproportionately defaults to women. (If you feel taken for granted, our guide might help.)
If you think you have burnout, you should...
Ask yourself these questions. It’ll help you ID if what you’re dealing with is actually burnout.
Get support. Sooner rather than later. Try a support group or therapy to get on top of your burnout before your tank gets to zero.
Communicate. If you don’t tell the people around you what’s going on, they probably won’t know. Ask for help, and outsource some things on your to-do list.
Unplug. It’s not breaking news that disconnecting from your phone, spending time with loved ones IRL, and trying out a mindful activity like meditation can all be good for your mental health. We also have to mention exercise here.
Set boundaries. You need time to yourself to avoid burnout. Draw lines with your friends and coworkers and stick to them.
Audit your calendar. Keep track of the activities that energize you and the ones that leave you drained. Once you figure out what fuels you, make sure you stagger those throughout your day and treat them as non-negotiable appointments that are vital for your health and well-being. Because they are.
If you’re feeling burned out, you probably are. But there are steps you can take before making a big life decision like quitting your job. And friendly reminder: Your productivity is not a measure of your worth.
theSkimm consulted with licensed psychologist Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein for this guide.
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