Are you cranky, sad, agitated, anxious, frustrated and/or reactive, often disproportionately to the situation?
Do you worry that you might be turning into that person you always said you would not become?
Is it getting tricky trying to come up with plausible excuses to explain why you don’t want to hang out with family, friends or even loved ones?
Is it triggering for you even logging into the work computer system, let alone dealing with colleagues and others?
Do you regularly feel like nothing you do makes a difference?
While symptoms vary for each of us, burnout, or emotional exhaustion, often looks like a flattening in mood and a narrowing of perspective.
Joys are more muted, accomplishments and successes are overlooked or minimised, and energy is depleted. You may notice you are less empathic, caring or concerned about others.
A pervasive fatigue or lack of motivation impacts concentration, focus, drive and attention. It’s harder to make decisions, read and understand material, to engage meaningfully with people (even loved ones), or manage time effectively.
You may feel like your ‘to do’ list keeps growing, no matter how rapidly you tick things off. It gets more difficult to know where to start when faced with competing priorities on a daily basis.
Health-wise, you may feel plagued by a series of seemingly innocuous but niggly injuries or aches and pains, low-grade infections, headaches, or more susceptible to viruses that you would normally shake off fairly quickly. Sleep patterns can be disrupted, with challenges getting to sleep or having long periods of being awake during the night.
Your tolerance for frustration with other people and the systems you operate within is not what it used to be, and you may feel more irritable, hyper-vigilant, and sensitive. You notice that much more of your non-work time is now being spent in mindless social media rabbit-holes, zoning out in front of the television, playing online computer games, and generally avoiding social activities you used to enjoy. Sometimes, even spending time with people you like or love, feels like too much effort.
It could be hard to pinpoint exactly where things started to slide, and you may worry about when it will end. You probably have tried various strategies at different times, with mixed results, but nothing really seems to have stuck or made a difference for very long. It’s hard to know what to try next to get the best impact for minimal effort, because you don’t have a lot of energy to spare. You often feel like you are just focused on getting through the next moment, and planning ahead is daunting. You feel stuck.
If any of these descriptors resonate with you recently, you could be experiencing burnout.