Being burned out means that you feel empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. To illustrate the difference between stress and burnout, think of stress feeling like you are drowning in responsibilities, while feeling burnout is being all dried up and done. Another difference between stress and burnout is that while you are usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens. Interestingly, even minor burnout can affect the quality of one’s life, relationships, work productivity, and physical health. In fact, burnout has been shown to be linked to depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, and even suicide. When people feel helpless and “dried up” or all of their energy and abilities, they may turn to harmful things to cope. Recognizing that you are experiencing burnout is key to awareness and/or recovery from harmful habits/behaviors. Most of us would be wise to slow down a little and say “no” to the many demands placed on us a little more often.
As indicated by healthguide.org, “burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.”
So, what can you do to prevent burnout? Perhaps it would serve you to simply relax and take a deep breath. Simplify or cancel the things you can in your life that start the burnout feelings you may be experiencing. There’s always more time tomorrow and there are lots of people who will help us if we reach out and ask. Push yourself to slow down or take a break. Cut back on whatever commitments and activities you can. And, to truly overcome burnout, give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.