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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

Burnout from Work? 7 Research-Backed Strategies To Recover

Burnout from Work? 7 Research-Backed Strategies To Recover

Are you exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically, probably due to long-term, unresolved stress? Have you lost your drive to become productive?

Have your experienced changes in your sleep habits? Do you find it hard to focus?

Perhaps you are losing meaning in your work, and you are becoming pessimistic about life.

What you are experiencing is called ‘burnout.’

What is Burnout?

Here is how Mayo Clinic defined it:[1]

“A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also includes a loss of personal identity and a sense of reduced accomplishment.”

Mayo Clinic also reiterated that burnout is not a medical diagnosis. A lot of experts believe some underlying conditions such as depression are responsible for burnout.

In addition, a report by Gallop shows that about 44 percent of employees think they are suffering from burnout. Sixty-three percent of the surveyed employees will take sick leave due to Burnout.[2]

What Are Some Common Symptoms of Burnout?

  • Showing a pessimistic perspective to life or work
  • Physical, emotional and mental exhaustion
  • Lower immunity to diseases or sicknesses
  • De-motivation
  • Lower productivity
  • Depleted energy levels

If you are having any of these symptoms, you might need to read further as I will show you seven researched-backed strategies to recover when you are burnout from work.

But before that, is there a connection between stress and Burnout?

What Is the Difference Between Burnout and Stress?

Burnout may emanate from long-term, unrelenting stress, but it is not the same as stress.

Stress incorporates overbearing pressures that take a toll on you mentally and physically. People who are stressed can feel better if they can bring everything into balance.

Burnout, on the other hand, is a state of feeling empty, absence of motivation, and mental exhaustion. When you are suffering from burnout, you do not see any hope in your situation.

While excessive stress is being drowned in responsibilities, burnout is a state of complete depletion.

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Here is another side to it.

While you are mostly aware when you are going through a lot of stress, for burnout, you do not realize when it occurs.

So how do you know when you are experiencing burnout?

You can follow these five stages.

What Are the Five Stages of Burnout?

Anyone can suffer from Burnout at any point in life. However, research conducted by NCBI indicated that the symptoms of burnout varied according to different stages of life among working men and women. Young men and women between the age of 20 and 35 years, as well as 55 years and above, are prone to burnout.[3]

The symptoms of burnout, just like any illness, differ from person to person. Nevertheless, in general, these are the five stages of burnout.

1. Honeymoon Stages

What is the honeymoon stage like?

At this phase, you are very excited about your work, and you are not experiencing any stress-related symptoms.

Do you remember your first day at work? Or the beginning of your new start-up?

Your job satisfaction level was high, and you were super-committed, energetic, and highly creative.

While you may notice predictable stresses on the job, you may discard implementing coping strategies to help you achieve a full life. You are super enthusiastic about your work, and you are trading off other aspects of your life.

Here is the theory behind this stage.

If you can establish coping strategies and maintain a work-life balance, you can live all your life in this honeymoon stage without end.

Here are some common symptoms to track:

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  • Unconstrained energy levels
  • Job Satisfaction
  • High level of commitment to a task
  • A steady stream of creativity
  • High levels of productivity

2. The Awakening Stage

What is the Awakening Stage of Burnout?

The awakening stage is when you begin to lose steam on your optimism. It is that stage when reality finally sets in. Your high expectation about that business or job is crashing down.

Not only that, but your needs are not also met, and you start to feel disconnected from your teammates. Starting with this disappointment, you will begin to see other symptoms.

Here are some of them:

  • Lack of Focus
  • Dissatisfaction on the job
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lower productivity
  • Insomnia or reduced sleep quality
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of memory
  • Headaches
  • Unusual heartbeats
  • Trading off of personal life
  • Change in appetite

You may also start feeling bored with your work or unusually tired.

3. Chronic Stress Stage

The third stage is the chronic stress stage. during this stage, you will experience a notable change in your stress levels – from losing motivation to frequent tiredness.

These are some common symptoms:

  • Continuous tiredness early in the morning.
  • Lack of hobbies
  • Anger
  • Transfer of aggression
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Social withdrawal
  • Escapist activities
  • Repeated lateness at work
  • Absenteeism
  • Apathy
  • Physical illness
  • Missed deadlines on project milestones
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Increased alcohol or sugar intake
  • Increased caffeine intake
  • Fear of being panicky
  • Feeling overburden or out of control

4. Burnout Stage

This stage is where all symptoms become severe. This is the exact stage people refer to when they talk about being burnout. At this stage, you will feel like it is just not possible to continue with your life.

Here are some symptoms:

  • Feeling empty on the inside
  • Self-doubt
  • Behavioral changes
  • Social Isolation
  • Getting obsessed about issues at work or in your life
  • Chronic headaches
  • Social isolation
  • Pessimism
  • Total neglect of personal needs
  • Increase in physical symptoms
  • Development of escapist mindset
  • Urge to disconnect from society
  • Desire to isolate from family and friends.

5. Habitual Burnout

This is the final stage. At this stage, the symptoms of burnout have become ingrained in your life to the extent that you may start experiencing physical or mental issues.

Here are some symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Chronic sadness
  • Chronic physical fatigue
  • Chronic mental fatigue
  • Burnout syndrome

So is there any hope if you find yourself in any of the stages?

While Burnout is curable, it demands that you accept your present reality and make a decision to change your lifestyle and mentality. You need to see your darkest moment as that phase that will enable you to discover your purpose in life.

If you are experiencing Burnout from work, here are ten research-backed strategies to help you regain your focus and productivity:

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7 Strategies to Help You Recover After Experiencing Burnout From Work

1. List Everything That Overwhelms You

It will amaze you that making a list is very therapeutic. The act of listing enables you to capture every negative thought and organize them in a form that you can better assess and understand.

Take an inventory of what you need to do daily, and then write those to-dos to avoid stressing yourself when you want to recall them. Highlight possible ways in which you can make each item less burdensome.

For instance, if you are writing a book, you can collaborate with other content writers to help prepare the table of content and proofread and edit the book so you do not overload yourself with excessive work.

Moreover, listing helps you maximize your resources by delegating tasks to the best hands.

2. Learn to Take a Break

What you do not take a break from will eventually break you.

According to Len Robinson:[4]

“Burnout does not happen all of a sudden. It usually develops over months or years. Therefore, you will need considerable time to develop coping strategies to recover from Burnout. If you can have fun as you make progress towards your goals, you will experience a happy-work life.”

So, as much as possible, have fun while you work.

3. Focus on Your Capabilities

You will always get tired when you work on tasks that do not match your skills.

Dr. Jim Harter, Ph.D. of Gallup, says that “workers with the highest level of engagement spend an average of four times as much hours performing tasks they excel at in comparison to what they don’t have skills for.”[5]

You enhance your capabilities when you spend time on activities that align with your skills. On the other hand, you will eventually get burned out from tasks that are beyond your strength.

4. Accept Your Weaknesses

It is not enough to focus on what you can do; you also need to accept that there are things you cannot do. You can lose your self-esteem and have your energy depleted when you undertake tasks that you are less qualified or trained for.

So do you have some tasks that you are less qualified for? Outsource them instead.

5. Establish a Formidable Support System

How do you outsource your weaknesses when you do not have a formidable support system? A strong support system such as your friends and colleagues at work can advise and encourage you when you are at your low ebbs.

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BJCEAP recommends six steps to establish a strong support system:[6]

  • Review your network and identify who can help
  • Attempt new activities to meet new people
  • Enroll in a book club
  • Appreciate important people in your life and let them know
  • Join a local association or work-related group.
  • Be willing to request for support.

Also, it is not enough to simply seek support. You should also strive to become your own best friend.

6. Learn to Say No

When you start to feel the symptoms of burnout from work, do not be timid in rejecting new commitments.

If you have established a strong support system, your team members will most likely understand when you are not capable of taking more jobs.

7. Control Your Usage of Devices and Internet

This is another factor that can make you experience burnout from work. You do not have to reply to all notifications on Facebook.

Is your smart device causing you to get burned out?

Find the time to unplug from the digital world and focus on more critical activities. You cannot get adequate sleep when you are too addicted to your smart devices. Sometimes, you need a rest from your gadgets so you can get back your life.

There is this story of a man who visited the Doctor to get tested for COVID-19 because he was showing symptoms.

Guess what the outcome of the test was?

The Doctor said, ‘Your test did not come out positive to Coronavirus, but you tested positive to Corona bad news.’

What you expose yourself to can impact your mental health. You need to prioritize your mental health as you engage your digital devices and the internet.

Conclusion

Do not say that you cannot. Do not say that it is not possible.

Now is the time to regain your focus and productivity if you are experiencing burnout from work.

More Tips for Dealing with Burnout

Featured photo credit: Shane via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success how to start over How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide) Do You Know Your Motivation Style?

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Published on June 21, 2021

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels

From social gatherings, sporting events to religious ceremonies, people have been drinking alcohol throughout history. In fact, evidence suggests that cavemen intentionally fermented fruits and grains to make alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, although we may never know exactly where, when, or how it all started, the simple fact remains that people all over the world continue to drink alcohol to this day.[1]

Initially, in moderation, alcohol can make you feel more outgoing, but in excess, it can essentially hold you back from wanting to go anywhere or be near anyone at all. So, before you got out and indulge in another glass of your favorite Zinfandel from New Zealand or perhaps try and cool off with an ice-cold pint of Guinness at the Irish pub around the corner, you may want to take the time to carefully consider some of the potential side-effects of drinking alcohol, especially how it can affect your mood, judgment, and energy levels.

As a professional addiction counselor and interventionist, I have worked with a lot of good people over the past twenty years who have found themselves doing a lot of bad and questionable things while under the influence of alcohol. Approximately 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States involved alcohol-impaired drivers, and according to the World Health Organization, approximately 55% of perpetrators of domestic violence drank alcohol prior to the assault.[2][3]

Although each case may have a unique set of circumstances, many of the underlying factors leading to alcohol abuse remain the same. For example, most people who have experienced alcohol abuse issues started off by drinking recreationally—in other words, drinking once in a while and at specific events. Then, over a period of time and with continued use, they developed a tolerance for it, meaning that more and more alcohol was needed to achieve the desired effect, such as intoxication.

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Furthermore, given the impact of alcohol on the central nervous system with prolonged use, your body can actually become dependent on it to function, albeit dysfunctionally.

Many of my clients who have suffered from alcohol dependence have often reported that they needed to have a drink of alcohol just to get out of bed so that they could steady their nerves and get unstuck. As a result, alcoholics tend to spend a significant amount of time and energy making sure that an ample supply of alcohol is readily available, while at the same time, significantly reducing time spent engaging in more productive and healthy daily activities, such as work, personal hygiene, proper nutrition, exercise, and interpersonal relationships.

Concerning statistics aside, the reality is that alcohol use is not going away anytime soon. Prohibition is not coming back. Therefore, in my opinion, it is important to learn how to live with it rather than trying to vilify its presence or simply pretending that the problem does not exist, whether you are interested in having a drink or not.

With that being said and without trying to ruin anyone’s upcoming party plans, if you are focused on the importance of maintaining control over your mood, judgment, and level of energy, hopefully, you are also ready to take a closer look at how alcohol can affect your body.

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1. Alcohol Increases Risk of Depression

To start off with how alcohol affects the body, alcohol is classified as a depressant because it appears to reduce arousal and stimulation of the central nervous system. Although it may initially elevate your mood as it begins to interact with dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, over a period of time, with continued use and your emotional defenses down, you can end up feeling overwhelmingly depressed as the alcohol begins to deplete those chemicals from your brain, leaving you considerably more vulnerable to emotional distress.[4]

Similar to the chemical version of a self-destructive self-fulfilling prophecy, the more alcohol you drink, the more depressed you feel and, therefore, the less active you become as your energy level is depleted.

2. Alcohol Reduces Your Energy Level

There are a variety of ways in which drinking alcohol reduces your energy level. First and foremost, alcohol initially raises your blood sugar level, then as insulin is released into your bloodstream, your blood sugar level rapidly decreases, making you feel weak. Although you are taking in plenty of fluids when you drink alcohol, you will typically find yourself urinating more frequently as your kidneys are working overtime to flush the alcohol out of your body. This then leads to dehydration, which in turn depletes your level of energy as an overabundance of vital minerals and nutrients are flushed away.

Furthermore, alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce the level of melatonin in your body, which is a critical element in regulating your circadian rhythm, thereby interfering with your internal sleep-wake cycle. And without an adequate amount of rest, your endurance and stamina will decrease if your body is unable to recharge.[5]

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3. Alcohol Reduces Your Reaction Time

So, with all that being said, alcohol does not actually make you feel depressed simply by drinking it, but rather alcohol slows down messages between the brain and the body. It essentially reduces your reaction time.

At first, you may feel more active and engaged, then after continued drinking, you may begin to feel more lethargic and unbalanced as you depress your central nervous system with continued consumption. Recent studies have shown that alcohol has actually been directly linked to changes in brain chemistry and composition with little or no medicinal benefit at all.[6]

4. Alcohol Reduces Your Inhibitions

Nevertheless, not all of the effects of alcohol are necessarily bad, at least not right away. In moderation, alcohol has been known to reduce your inhibitions in relation to your declining reaction time. In other words, with alcohol, your brain may not necessarily have enough time to effectively process anxiety that you might have otherwise experienced in a similar situation without it, for example, meeting new people at a party or perhaps even spending time with your in-laws. Unfortunately, however, reducing your inhibitions can also reduce your ability to know when it is okay to have another drink, which can ultimately lead to lapses in judgment.

5. Alcohol Impairs Your Judgment

Recent studies have shown that prolonged alcohol use can actually alter the structure of the brain, especially in the area of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for judgment and reasoning. As a result, there is a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and making bad decisions, such as driving under the influence and drinking on the job.[7] Furthermore, alcohol is considered a gateway drug because using it can lead you down the path to using even more potent mood-altering substances since your judgment is impaired.

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Additionally, given the fact that most of us are hard-working people who need to provide both financially and emotionally, we have to be able to move swiftly and with precision when the opportunity presents itself, while at the same time, we have to be able to provide love and attention to the people that we care about. So, without actually avoiding a fun night out with your friends, you might want to simply reconsider ordering another cocktail at the club, especially if you want to stay far away from all of the potentially unpleasant consequences associated with poor judgment, such as legal, financial, medical, and family issues.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, most people who have a drink every so often will more than likely never experience any serious consequences associated with alcohol abuse. Some may not even be aware of how alcohol affects their bodies. Nevertheless, educating yourself on the potential impact of regular alcohol use may, in fact, prevent that from actually happening.

So, whether or not you condone or condemn drinking adult alcoholic beverages, the reality is that alcohol has been around for thousands of years, and there are no plans that I am aware of to stop making it as it continues to be served all over the world at family gatherings, sporting events, religious ceremonies, or almost everywhere you look. Nevertheless, given the fact that drinking alcohol can directly impact your mood, judgment, and energy level, I firmly believe that everyone should be aware of the effect that it can have on you before consuming it.

Although alcohol can reduce your inhibitions, making you feel just a little more outgoing and engaging, with an initial artificial boost of energy, over time, and with continued use, it can lead to bouts of depression as it impairs your judgment and depletes your energy level.

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Featured photo credit: Taylor Brandon via unsplash.com

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