It’s common to feel “run down” after a busy period like the holiday season. If you are finding it difficult bounce back and settle into normal routines, however, you may be experiencing burnout. And you are not alone – surveys across the globe indicate a steady increase of mental health issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, work-related pressures, social unrest, the political climate or other personal challenges.
Caused by long-term, unresolved stress, burnout is a persistent change that begins to impact your enjoyment, experiences and presence at work and at home. You may feel unusually pessimistic, begin to miss activities, start to detach in personal relationship and suffer depleted energy levels.
There are five common stages of burnout:
- Stage 1 – the Honeymoon. Starting a new task is typically accompanied by energy, creativity and commitment. Despite this excitement, you may begin to experience common stressors in this first phase of burnout. Regular use of positive coping strategies, such mindfulness techniques and resilience boosters, can help you continue in the honeymoon phase indefinitely.
- Stage 2 – the Onset of Stress. When you become aware that some days are more difficult than others, you are entering the second phase of burnout. You may feel less optimistic and develop common stress symptoms such as high blood pressure, an inability to focus, flashes of irritability, lower production and lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality. Dedicating time and attention to self-care, including building resiliency skills, starting a meditation practice or improving sleep fitness, can slow and even prevent burnout from developing.
- Stage 3 – Chronic Stress. When you are experiencing stress on an incredibly frequent basis, you may find that the mental and physical symptoms of Stage 2 begin to intensify. Missed work deadlines, persistent tiredness in the mornings, frequent illness and social withdrawal from friends and/or family are signals that you should explore American Fidelity's EAP resources and access confidential support.
- Stage 4 – Burnout. This is the stage that is often referred to when talking about burnout. Continuing life as normal may not be possible, and it’s vital that you seek intervention from your primary care provider as well as a mental health clinician.
- Stage 5 – Habitual Burnout. In this final stage, symptoms like chronic sadness, depression, mental and physical fatigue, become so embedded in life that a significant physical or emotional problem becomes likely. Though the consequences of burnout can be serious, you can prevent them by taking action in earlier stages to avoid this phase altogether.
To get started, this short flash course, Preventing Burnout, shares practical tools and tips you can use if and when work, or life challenges, start to affect your physical and emotional health.
For confidential support and resources available to help you cope and prevent burnout from developing, contact American Fidelity's EAP by selecting an icon from the Access Bar above or by calling 1-800-295-8323.