What exactly is ‘burn-out’?

So the term burn-out is being flung about quite a lot these days, usually being encouraged to be avoided. You hear it most especially in the entrepreneurial and health arenas, of which I sit in both. However yesterday I was talking  to a friend, who was not that familiar with the term, and who interrupted my passionate flow of “why we all need to learn to spot the early signals of burn-out” and rightly asked me ”umm… Anna what exactly does burn-out mean?” Good point! So, I thought I would share a quick breakdown on what burn-out means, at least in the context of health and fatigue. 

Ok, so being “burned out” refers to a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that is often a result of prolonged stress. If you are feeling burned out, it’s important not to ignore this and “trudge on through” but to pause and take steps to address the situation and take care of yourself. Here are some common symptoms and signs that you may be burned out and in need of a rest:

  1. Physical exhaustion: Feeling physically exhausted, even after getting a good night’s sleep, can be a sign of burnout. You may feel tired, sluggish, and have low energy levels.
  2. Emotional exhaustion: Emotional exhaustion is a common symptom of burnout. You may feel overwhelmed, irritable, and have a low mood.
  3. Mental exhaustion: Mental exhaustion can result in feelings of boredom, apathy, and a lack of motivation. You may find it difficult to concentrate and focus on tasks.
  4. Insomnia or disrupted sleep: Burn-out can lead to problems sleeping, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and feeling rested after sleep.
  5. Changes in appetite: Changes in appetite, such as overeating or a loss of appetite, can be a sign of burn-out.
  6. Physical symptoms: Burn-out can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, and a weakened immune system.
  7. Increased illness: People who are burned out may be more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
  8. Decreased productivity: Burn-out can lead to a decreased ability to perform tasks and a lack of motivation, leading to decreased productivity.

So if any of the above is sounding familiar, it may be a sign that you need to take a break and prioritise self-care before your niggling symptoms become something nasty and harder to shake. Taking steps to reduce stress, such as practising mindfulness, exercising a little everyday, and getting enough sleep, can help to prevent burn-out and promote overall health and well-being. So let’s do that!