Do you sometimes feel like you are chasing life? Chasing a specific career or position, chasing money or security, or generally chasing your own tail in the search for your own peace of mind? In this day and age, merely living life can get so overwhelming that you feel it grinding you. Hey, it’s ok. All of us humans have lots on our plates now. If your brain feels sluggish and foggy, if you’re tired most of the time, trust me – you are not alone in it. Life is more complicated than ever, and these breakdown symptoms are something many people share. Even if they weren’t affected by this dreadful virus at all.
Excessive Stress Leads to Burnout
Whether you’re an overachiever or life just got a bit messier for you, stress can be detrimental to your overall health. The spine-chilling thing about burnout is that it has its own way of slowly creeping up to you. The next thing you know, you’re exhausted, depressed, cranky, and generally fed up with life. If you’re still just a young person trying to find your place under the Sun, I understand that resisting the urge to work 24/7 can be challenging. Without you even realizing it, this type of self-damage can lead to burnout and mental breakdown. Therefore it’s absolutely paramount to take secure some mental breaks every once in a while. After all, it’s better for you to slow down than to break down.
Once you get to that point, you will have a long road ahead to get mentally collected again. So, prevention is the solution here. Before I continue with advice on preventing burnout and the horrific scenario of a mental breakdown, let’s get down to basics. Bear with me; I will explain what burnout is, its symptoms, and how it is different from stress.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress that lasts for longer. It usually occurs when people are emotionally drained and generally overwhelmed with their daily grind. This inherent need to meet the constant demands can get so stressful that, sometimes, people lose all their interest and motivation to carry on.
Burnout is a horrific state of mind since it spills over and into every aspect of your life; work, home, and social. Moreover, it takes a mental toll; burnout can lead to physical illnesses and dire health consequences. That is why you need to actively work to deal with it right away.
Everyone Is at Risk
Even though burnout often stems from a job, that isn’t always the case. In the same way, anyone who feels overworked, undervalued, and stressed can fall as a victim of mental breakdown. From an office clerk who hadn’t been on vacation in years to the stressed-out housewife and a mother – everyone is at risk. So, make sure you’re listening to your body for burnout symptoms. And there are many, so tune in.
Signs and Symptoms of a Burnout
Sure, there are days you feel a bit overloaded, helpless, demotivated, or tired. It’s entirely normal to feel that way sometimes. However, if getting out of bed and doing your daily tasks feels like the labors of Hercules, it may be time to take a break.
It’s crucial to realize burnout is a gradual process; it won’t get you overnight but rather creep up on you. Therefore, you should look for subtle signs and red flags. Pay attention to your body and your thoughts, and you can prevent a major nervous breakdown. In essence, the longer you ignore them, the greater are your chances of a full-blown burnout. Ultimately, burnout can lead to depression or other mental illnesses.
If you’ve noticed that you’re rushing through your tasks, complaining much more, feeling pessimistic, and prone to mistakes, that could be burnout.
Physical Signs and Symptoms of a Breakdown or a Burnout
- You’re feeling tired and drained most of the time.
- Your immunity is lower, and you’re getting sick more than usual.
- You have frequent headaches and muscle pain.
- You’ve noticed changes in your eating and sleeping habits.
Emotional Signs and Symptoms of a Burnout
- Loss of motivation.
- Sense of failure and self-doubt.
- Feelings of helplessness and defeat.
- Feeling detached and lonely.
- Cynicism and pessimism.
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
- Not caring about your responsibilities.
- Isolating yourself from others.
- Binge eating, drugs, or alcoholism.
- Feeling angry and frustrated with others.
- Being late or skipping work.
The Difference Between Stress and Burnout (Breakdown)
Burnout is not the same as too much stress. Stress usually involves too much pressure and demands. However, stressed-out people can still let go of control and feel better. It’s different with burnout. Burnout leaves you feeling completely drained and mentally exhausted, depleted of motivation and caring. Once you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re in the dark spot. The worst thing is, while people are typically aware of stress, burnout is sometimes harder to notice.
Burnout Can Do Terrible Damage to Your Brain and Body
The truth is, burnout can wreak havoc on your overall health, as well as work and relationships. Not only does it do damage, but burnout can also actually leave a lasting imprint on brain structure.
Research has shown that severe and chronic stress can cause shrinkage, enlargement, thinning, or premature aging in the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). All these areas modulate your stress response. Moreover, long-term stress can cause loss of grey matter, so your brain gets more vulnerable to neurotoxins. This can lead to horrible mental problems such as difficulty dealing with emotions, social settings, and mental disorders if not treated.
It’s wise to learn what you can do to stay in your balance and prevent a mental breakdown. But if you’re already shaken out, like many are now, I’ll show you what to do to feel positive and hopeful again.
How To Prevent a Burnout
Stress is usually hard to avoid. However, a mental breakdown is preventable. Follow these steps and don’t let it get the best of you:
- Always listen to your body. Rest when it’s time to.
- Exercise for an emotional boost with some mini workouts and short walks.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet since it’s a natural antidepressant.
- Practice good sleeping habits. They are vital for your well-being.
- Ask for help from loved ones or seek professional guidance.
- Practice self-care and mindfulness activities. Let nature heal you.
- Check-in with your closest people and share the load.
Dealing With a Burnout or Break Down
If you’ve missed all the warning signs and are already past the breaking point, this is what you need to do. Whatever you do, don’t push through the exhaustion. That will only cause further physical and emotional damage. Instead, pause, reflect, and change your direction.
Limit your exposure to harmful situations and people, as well as tasks that aren’t essential. Instead, invest both your time and energy into things and people that boost your energy and positivity.
Make sure you:
- Ask for help during your break down and during difficult times.
- Reduce technology.
- Prioritize self-care.
- Shift your perspective by curbing negativity and cynicism.
- Seek out connections and communicate your needs.
- Be in the present moment.
- Practice self-compassion.
The Bottom Line
Burnouts can feel insurmountable, but even the worst ones will pass with time. Hopefully, my advice will help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel more quickly. No matter how hard you break down and how grim things might look, there is always things you can do. Seek out self-compassion and be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the emotions you feel; you can come up for yourself with all the love and compassion. Let go of guilt and give yourself what you need – be it a good book, a meditation practice, a vacation, or a nice bath. Ultimately, this rocky road could be a turning point that will help you lead a more healthy and happy life. Good luck!