Living On The Edge Of Burnout

Burnout destroys us not only mentally and emotionally but also physically, and it can suck happiness, friendship, and love out of our life.  Our body becomes weak, making us vulnerable to various medical adversaries. Burnout, if ignored for a long time, could distance us from our loved ones, wreck our relationship, and become an occupational hazard.

But what is burnout?

Defining Burnout

Coined by Herbert Freudenberger in 1980, burnout is the state of persistent prostration, and it is multifaceted. Excessive and protracted stress could result in constant emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Immense workload, challenging relationships, imbalanced Worklife, and some of the main drivers push us to the verge of burnouts. 

Apart from being extremely exhausting, burnout severely saps our energies and has adverse impacts on our productivity. A frazzling mental and emotional state for a prolonged period pushes us to the brink of nihilism, from where hopelessness chokes the brighter sides of life. Burnout, when persisted, makes us numb to all sorts of happiness and joy.

But how do we know that we are on the edge of burnout? Jenny and Jai, in the ‘Living on The Edge of Burnout’ episode of The Holistic Life podcasts, share these 12 stages of burnout:

12 Stages Of Burnout


1. A Need To Prove Yourself

More often than not, burnout begins with the obsession of proving yourselves at work. Those who have a tough time saying no to any position offered by the seniors or clients often end up falling into this trap. 

The best way to deal with such an issue starts with a two-letter word, ‘NO,’ say no when you don’t have enough time to complete a task within the given deadline.

2. Working Harder

The extra work that you took in the zest of proving yourself will eventually overwhelm you. You might be able to submit the job, but as such occurrences become common, you will stress out yourself, thus entering the second stage of burnout, pushing yourself to work harder.

The most common sign that you are pushing your limits would be your shortened attention span, and you will also face difficulty in prioritizing the tasks.

3. Neglecting Your Needs

To meet the extreme workload expectations, you will start cutting time from other regular tasks. Your schedule will have no time for activities that make you happy. The worst-case scenario will lead to disruption in your sleep, diet, workout, or other things that are an essential part of your life.

Your sleeping pattern will be distorted, making you more irritated. Though you will find the situation normal from your perspective and often describe it as comfortable, your lifestyle will worsen day after day.

4. Displacement of Conflicts

The workload will slowly stress you out, and the overwhelming pressure of proving yourself will keep you from accepting the exhaustion that occurs. Forgotten appointments, excuses for making mistakes will follow because of lacking behind schedule.

This is also the stage where you will start noticing the very first physical symptoms of burnouts. You will get exhausted sooner than before and will be worn out most of the time.

5. Revision of Values

With time and ever-increasing stress, you will start changing the way you perceive your environment. The importance of values, family, friends will deplete, and work will begin to become the only necessity in your life. 

On the contrary, you will embrace these changes without noticing the problem it is causing you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

6. Denial of New Problems

At this stage, problems will increase, but you will be in a state of denial, leading to more annoying behavior. You will think that you are stressed because of the workload and deadlines, not because of the change in your lifestyle and worsening mental health.

7. Withdrawal

The burnout will start taking control over you, and while reaching the seventh stage, you will begin to ignore social contact from family and friends. Rather than talking about the problem and listening to your loved one’s situation, a person at this stage will start viewing them as burdens.

Social withdrawals usually trigger the urge to find another way of gratification. People try to isolate themselves and turn towards alcohol and drug consumption.

8. Obvious Behavior Changes

By reaching the eighth stage, your burnout will become evident to your family. But on the contrary, you will ignore all the concerns of your loved ones and become inconsiderate of things that once mattered the most.

9. Depersonalization

This is the phase from where you can feel the change in yourself. You will stop caring for your own needs, and hopelessness will surround you. Life will become meaningless; thus, the extensive stress will drive you towards nihilism.

10. Inner Emptiness

Inner emptiness is an intense state of depersonalization. Doubting self-worth, anxiousness, and tiredness will become evident in your every activity. Many a time to ignore this inner emptiness, people turn towards increased sexual activity, drugs, comfort eating, etc. 

11. Depression

Exhaustion, stress, anxiety, hopelessness, and many other self-doubting feelings will make you clinically depressed. Depression, if not treated at the right time, would result in total mental and physical collapse.

12. Burnout Syndrome

At the final stage, suicidal thoughts will start crossing your mind; many end up ending their lives due to persistent burnouts. This is a stage from which there is no going back by yourself. The person suffering from burnout syndrome should get urgent professional help.

The Inevitable Truth

The above signs indicate that you are on the verge of burnout, but you can reconcile yourself while there is still time. Life will test us from time to time. Work pressure is inevitable, and a few relationship difficulties are unavoidable. But not letting these stressful moments define you is in your hand. 

Keeping a healthy lifestyle both physically and emotionally makes us strong. Taking time out for yourself for as little as 5 minutes a day could save us from burnout. Jenny of The Hollistic Lifestyle advises everyone, “Pick something that you can do every day for five minutes before you give your attention to the rest of the world.”

Liked it? Take a second to support SayWHA Radio Network on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Further reading

Recent posts