Burnout is real and it’s been recognized as an “occupational phenomenon”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It’s also something that Dr. Jamal Lake, a clinical psychologist at the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre in Toronto, has seen rise steadily in recent years. He says many clients don’t even immediately recognize that they’re at the brink of burnout. Instead, they seek support for various other symptoms such as stress, anxiety to moodiness. “If you experience depressive or anxiety symptoms, it is important to seek out professional assistance in order to address these symptoms before they become chronic and potentially accelerate burnout,” he says.
It’s become so common, in fact, that it inspired WHO to provide an official diagnosis for the condition in 2019. As an occupational phenomenon, burnout presents long-lasting emotional, physical and mental exhaustion and diminished sense of accomplishment caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Its sneaky symptoms, however, are sometimes harder to pinpoint.
Here is what you need to look for to recognize if you’re headed for a burnout diagnosis — and Dr. Lake offers tips on how to rectify the situation.
DISCLAIMER: This advice is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Always seek medical advice that is specific to you and your situation.
Burnout symptom: you feel chronic exhaustion
Burnout symptom: you lack motivation and feel detached
Burnout symptom: you lack enjoyment and excitement in your life
Burnout symptom: you’re always frustrated and irritable
Burnout symptom: you’re feeling guilty and anxious
Burnout symptom: you lack focus
Burnout symptom: lack of productivity and poor performance
Burnout symptom: you’re driven by fear of failure
Burnout symptom: you can’t stop
Burnout symptom: your physical condition is deteriorating
What to do next: seek support
“If you experience depressive or anxiety symptoms, it is important to seek out professional assistance in order to address these symptoms before they become chronic and potentially accelerate burnout,” says Dr. Lake. Therapy can help you work on cognitive awareness, stress reduction strategies assertiveness and problem solving skills. It can also help you identify opportunities for self-exploration in times of change and conflict. “Seek support from family, friends, colleagues, organizations and/or professionals. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to reach out.”
What to do next: set boundaries
What to do next: prioritize sleep and schedule relaxation
What to do next: work on other aspects of yourself
What to remember about burnout
Remember that time the high-achieving Jessie Spano reached her breaking point in Saved by the Bell? Don’t let yourself get to that point.