Are you stressed or burnt out? This is how you can tell the difference

The office can be a source of tremendous stress. But it’s hard to tell when that stress transforms into burnout. Here is a guide to help you figure out if you’re at the brink
taking breaks
Don’t let your stress push you towards a state of burnout. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Samir Parikh Published: 4 Dec 2019, 15:06 pm IST
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Stress has become a lifestyle and feeling on edge, a way of life. But this is not something to embrace. Experiencing some amount of stress is natural. It’s a part and parcel of everything we do—the goals we have for ourselves and our expectations.

We play many roles in our daily lives and each of these comes with its own set of responsibilities. In wearing the many hats that we do during the course of a day—stress, naturally, builds up. This in itself is not a matter of grave concern.

However, if stress tips over to the other side, crossing the threshold of what is considered to be optimum, it can wreak havoc in our lives.

This is the time when the stress shifts from playing a role in making us productive to it becoming a deterrent to us accomplishing our work, roles, goals, and impacting our well-being. This can lead to what is known as the burnout syndrome.

What is burnout?
We come across this term quite often these days; but what does burnout even mean? Well, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) burnout is a syndrome that emerges out of chronic workplace stress which hasn’t been managed effectively.

It is characterised by three prominent aspects, which are as follows:

1. Emotional exhaustion

You experience intense tiredness and fatigue, feel emotionally drained, and are unable to look at anything that may need you to invest yourself in it. It can often lead to difficulties in accomplishing daily tasks and also translates into absenteeism from the workplace.

2. Depersonalization

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Burnout is characterised by feelings of disenchantment and disconnect. GIF courtesy: Giphy

You may feel disconnected from those around you. So, what’s happening with them would not be your biggest concern in this state of mind. It may almost make you feel uncaring, disinterested, and uninvolved in activities or interactions relating to the other person.

3. Lack of personal accomplishment 

You would feel like you are not accomplishing anything, both relating to your work and your personal life. This often translates into feeling disconnected from the things you need to do and also results in low motivation to do things altogether.

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What to do if you’re on the brink?

If you experience this sense of burnout or feel like you are close to it, then you need to take remedial measures and restore your sense of well-being.

Some of things you can do include:

1. Take active steps to refuse additional items to be piled on to your plate of tasks to do.

2. Delegate as many items as you possibly can so you as to proactively take a mental break from all the things that are expected from you.

3. Ensure that you integrate breaks into your routine between tasks as well as during a task to allow yourself to relax and refresh.

4. Do not take work home and instead focus on relaxing, spending time with your family and friends, and rejuvenating at home.

burnout stress
Spending time with your pets is a sure-shot way of feeling rejuvenated. GIF courtesy: Giphy

5. Keep reinforcing all that you do during the day and don’t ignore the effort you’re putting in.

6. Focus on your health and look at your lifestyle. Go for a walk, eat healthy, avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, and any other substances.

7. Talk to your friends and family members and seek their support.

If you still continue to feel burnt out and/or experience symptoms of other mental health issues emerging, then reach out to a mental health expert.

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About the Author

Dr. Samir Parikh is a psychiatrist and director of Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences and Fortis National Mental Health Program at Fortis Healthcare ...Read More

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