The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently announced that it will recognise ‘burnout’ in its International Classification of Diseases, and from 2022 it will allow healthcare providers and insurers to acknowledge, treat and cover the symptoms.
WHO defines burnout as being caused by ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’ To understand if you’re on the brink of a burnout or are in the midst of it, you’ll need to understand what a burnout actually is.
In a nutshell, a burnout is described as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. Burnouts can be managed in the short term, however if a person constantly experiences the symptoms of a burnout, it can be extremely detrimental for both their physical health and emotional wellbeing.
As with any physical or mental ailment, prevention is always better than cure. To prevent a burnout and also to minimise the effects, these are the signs a person should look out for:
1. Feeling physically and mentally exhausted
This is where a person feels emotionally and physically worn out and drained, usually related to the accumulation of ongoing stress.
It is one of the most common symptoms of burnout, but unfortunately for many people they try to continue on with life whilst constantly feeling this way.
Many people often feel trapped by personal and work commitments, which causes them to preserve through these feelings.
2. Chronic tiredness and fatigue
Most of us would be aware of the way tiredness can affect other areas of our lives.
Besides feeling totally exhausted, chronic tiredness can lead to other issues such as anxiety about getting through the days ahead, or dealing with everyday life.
3. Insomnia or trouble sleeping
This is when a person feels incredibly tired but just can’t seem to sleep.
Often personal or work stresses can cause a person to overthink things at night time, leading to constant unrest. This can become persistent, resulting in other issues for a person in their waking life.
4. Anxiety or depression
Constant stress and worry can result in mild forms of anxiety and depression, but over a long period of time can become more serious.
These mental health conditions can further impact a person’s life, whether personally or at work.
5. Physical ailments
Our physical health is often related to our mental health, so the signs of a burnout can also appear physically in the forms of headaches, dizziness, increased heart rate and shortness of breath.
6. Weak immune system resulting in constant sickness
Due to the fact that a person might be run down, they will also be physically and mentally exhausted, which can cause your immune system to weaken.
A weakened immune system makes a person more susceptible to illnesses such as colds and flus. In worst case scenarios it can lead to more dangerous sicknesses and immune related medical problems.
7. Lack of focus and forgetfulness
This is when a person feels overwhelmed by their stresses and worries, which results in forgetfulness and trouble focusing on tasks. They can feel like things are continuing to build up on them, and as though they don’t have enough time in the day to get through it all.
Noosha Anzab is a Lysn psychologist.