What is Burning Out?

Going through life you may have heard of the phrase: ‘burning out’, but do you actually understand what being burnt out means? Most people, in fact, don’t realise that it is an actual medical condition that can cause severe psychological damage. That’s why I want to address the importance of knowing about this medical condition and what steps you should take to avoid it.

Often when people are burned out they don’t recognise it, they continue to push themselves more and more, just simply calling themselves tired or lazy. This constant pressure to keep pushing yourself despite your body and mind screaming “stop” is harmful, and can often lead to making an even bigger mess.

Burning out is not just a response to a stressful situation, in fact, many doctors view it as a serious condition. Burning out is when your body experiences extreme stress, over usually a long period of time. Scientific evidence shows that burning out can “leave its mark on the brain as well as the body.” (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/burnout-and-the-brain) This scientific study explains that burning out “impairs people’s personal and social functioning,” which proves the impact it can have on your ability to conduct everyday tasks. This high level of stress also leads to you neglecting personal needs, becoming depressed, or even aging you - as the effect this level of stress has on your brain increases the aging process. A great article by Harvard Health blog explains the damaging impact of burning out on yourself in the long term, they found that, “those who worked more than 55 hours per week had a 13% greater risk of a heart attack, and were 33% more likely to suffer a stroke, compared with those who worked 35-40 hours per week.” As you can see, this high level of stress can make you very unwell and you will stop you operating at your best. Moreover, it is not just the individual that is negatively impacted by this over-stress, but companies lose out from working people too hard as well. According to Boston University, “managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.” Therefore, it’s clear that burning out is good for nobody.

It is not just workloads that can cause burning out. Over recent years, especially with regard to young adults, the internet and social media have really increased stress levels. Technology gives us the ability to communicate on so many different platforms at one time, I’m doing it to you right now on this webpage. But all of this information can be overwhelming. We very rarely do one task at a time. For instance, we play games on our phone whilst binge-watching Netflix. Or we catch up on Facebook notifications whilst studying or calling home.  If our lives weren’t already busy enough, we have to think about the hundreds of people on our social media platforms who will have opinions on our most recent tweet, or if they will ‘like’ our new photo on Instagram. With this volume of electronic involvement in our everyday life, it’s no wonder modern technology stresses people out. In fact, YouTube stars have recently become more open about being burned out. For example, In November Lilly Singh (IISuperwomenII) took a break from YouTube to focus on her mental health. She stated that the constant pressure on herself to post regular content the way her viewers wanted was getting too much. From this example, we can clearly see how social media can cause people to burn out, as it puts such extreme pressure on all of us to be approved by so many people. Now before you get the wrong idea, I’m not saying you should delete all your social media platforms after reading this article to cure all of your stress. I am just advising you to be more careful with how much stress you expose yourself to.

So does all of this mean we should completely clear our lives from stress? No, mainly because that would be extremely hard to do and also its not necessary. It has been proven that stress can actually improve your ability to accomplish tasks more effectively. Stress can, in fact, push you to get a task completed. Also, scientifically speaking, stress is a part of nature and signals to you that you are in a dangerous situation, making you react.

 

However, it is important to clarify that stress is only healthy in small amounts. Problems come from too much stress and this is why it’s important to understand the signs of burning out so that you know when you are feeling good stress or bad stress. Different people experience stress in different situations. However, you can usually tell if you are over-stressed if you start to feel anxious and/or depressed. Other symptoms of burning out are feelings of panic, unable to think clearly, becoming upset, headaches, nausea and even more. When you start to feel these symptoms of burning out, you can feel better by just merely focusing on your basic health. Such as making sure you get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals and exercising. Not to start quoting one of those Instagram accounts that claim that your whole life problems can be solved by drinking a glass of water. But it can sometimes it can be that simple. Another important thing to do is stop overloading you schedule by saying yes to every person that asks for a favour – naps are important too ya know!

So since it’s the start of 2019 why not feel inspired by this article and make your new year resolution for 2019 to stop burning out! Why not give yourself a break this year (literally) and decide that your health is more important than how many hours a day you work. Even if you don’t make it your resolution, I hope that after reading this article you can start to realise symptoms of burning out and improve your health.

 

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