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The Common Signs of Burnout and How Mindfulness Can Help

The Common Signs of Burnout and How Mindfulness Can Help



Woman burnt-out by her work.

Are you starting to notice the signs of burnout?


Survey results reveal that 77% of workers report experiencing burnout at their current job. A further 93% of respondents say that unmanageable levels of stress negatively impact not only their work—but their personal relationships as well. And being passionate about your work isn't enough to keep burnout at bay.


While 87% of professionals surveyed said they are passionate about their work, 67% say they are frequently stressed out by their jobs.


If you're burning the candle at both ends, wearing multiple hats, and juggling work and family responsibilities, burnout can creep up on you almost unnoticed.


When burnout does manifest, it can be hard to know what to do. If you have a demanding career or family responsibilities, you might not have the luxury to take time off.


Fortunately, you don't have to press pause on life to escape burnout.


An increasing body of evidence has shown that mindfulness techniques can be very effective for managing stress. Stress isn't something you can just switch off, but you can equip yourself with the right tools to handle it.


Keep reading to learn more about the signs of burnout and how mindfulness can help you achieve a better stress balance.


Road sign reminding people they need to choose lives of balance or they will burn out.

The Signs Of Burnout

One of the reasons why so many people suffer from burnout is that they may not recognize the signs early on. Burnout is a common term, but what does burnout feel like exactly? How do you know if you are burnt-out or just feeling tired?


Here are some of the most common signs of burnout to watch out for:

  • Chronic tiredness and fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Feeling disengaged and detached

  • Problems concentrating

  • Feeling unable to cope or overwhelmed

  • Appetite changes

  • Increased illness/reduced immunity

  • Repetitive negative thoughts

  • Feelings of futility

  • Stomach pains

  • Tension headaches

  • Chronic pain

  • Continually feeling emotionally drained

  • Feelings of being alone, helpless, or powerless

The earlier you can spot the signs of burnout the better. Burnout symptoms can often compound each other, leading to a vicious cycle of health problems. For instance, if you're suffering from insomnia, this can exacerbate tiredness, headache symptoms, anxiety, etc.


The Powerful Role of Mindfulness in Stress Management


Fortunately, it doesn't matter how bad burnout has gotten, there are ways to get back on track. One of the best places to start is with mindfulness practices such as meditation. If you want to supercharge your results, you can also look into stress and burnout therapy.

Here are some of the powerful ways mindfulness techniques can help you both recover from burnout and equip yourself with the tools to manage stress in a healthy way.


Mindfulness and Increased Resilience to Stress


The word "stress" has a very negative connotation, but did you know that some stress is actually healthy? Certain types of short-term stress are beneficial to the body and psyche and can upregulate immune response, improve cognitive function, and spur us to take action in our lives.


What's not good is long-term stress that wears down our systems. This kind of stress can cause serious health issues, including heart disease, chronic fatigue, chronic inflammation, etc.


But what if ongoing stress is an unavoidable part of your job? Fortunately, there is a way to turn even this kind of stress into something manageable. The secret lies in your response to stress.


One of the reasons why mindfulness techniques are such a powerful tool for combating burnout is they can modify your stress response.


When you are in a state of stress, your body automatically goes into a state of fight or flight.

If this is your default state, even small stresses can elicit a strong physiological response. Ever seen someone fly off the handle over something minor? Chances are they were already stressed before the event.


Mindfulness practices are one of the quickest ways to bring the body back into a state of calm and homeostasis.


Bringing the body into a state of tranquility and peace gives it a chance to rest and repair. When stress presents itself, you can react to it from a clear-headed, grounded state.


The potential mindfulness techniques have on combating burnout has been proven via multiple studies. For instance, one recent study showed that mindfulness meditation can decrease stress and burnout in nurses by increasing resiliency and emotional regulation.

The participants' work stressors didn't change, but their response to them did.


Another recent pilot study evaluated app-based mindfulness training in reduced burnout in doctors. The findings show that mindfulness techniques can be an effective tool for combating anxiety and burnout in physicians.


Mindfulness Practices Provide a Reset Button

Besides helping you heal your response to stress, mindfulness techniques can also be an invaluable reset button. Have you ever gotten home from a stressful day at work and found it impossible to relax, switch off, or put the day behind you?


Ten to one, the next day you woke up stressed as well, and approached the day in a state of flight or fight before even entering the office.


If you don't have something to break the cycle, this state of stress could become your habitual mode.


Mindfulness techniques are one of the quickest, easiest, and most effective ways to recalibrate your brain and body into a state of calm and clarity. They are one of the surest, most reliable "reset" buttons.


Being able to reset your emotional and mental state in this way can have far-reaching effects. It can help you improve your sleep patterns. As well as ease tension, reduce anxiety, and increase your performance.


As we outlined above, "resetting" your body and mind can also improve your overall responses to stress. Research shows that mindfulness techniques can reduce cortisol levels and can trigger healthier, more adaptive stress management strategies.


Mindfulness Practices Can Target, Reduce, and Heal the Harmful Effects of Excessive Stress

Not only can mindfulness techniques help you reset and improve your stress response, but they can also help to heal and reverse the harmful effects of stress.


Prolonged states of stress deplete the body, deprive it of rest, and keep it flooded with cortisol and adrenaline. It can also be harder for the body to heal when in a state of stress.


Mindfulness practices help to give the body a much-needed respite from stress hormones.


What's more, inducing states of calm, peace, and inner well-being through mindfulness techniques won't just give your body 10-20 minutes of peace. These states can last into your day, helping to keep your body and mind in an optimal state.


Besides this overarching benefit, mindfulness techniques like meditation might even help you heal specific health issues caused by stress. For instance, science has shown that meditation can lower high blood pressure, improve memory, control pain, reduce anxiety, and more.


Mindfulness Can Equip You With the Tools to Escape Burnout in the Future

There might be times when it's almost impossible to avoid burnout. Sometimes life throws us into situations where we have too much on our plates for one person to handle.


But, there are also times when our choices are what bring us to a state of burnout. Often, these choices stem from subconscious, ingrained thoughts and beliefs. For instance, if you were brought up to believe that your self-worth is dependent on how hard you work, you might be driving yourself to the edge of your physical limits—because resting triggers feelings of guilt and unworthiness.


Individual therapy and mindfulness practices can help us identify these subconscious beliefs and recognize them for what they are. Things like journaling, meditation, and therapy can help you to take a step back from habitual thought patterns.


If your brain starts beating you up for not being "productive", instead of blindly reacting, you can mindfully evaluate the thought pattern and see it for what it is.


Or maybe you find it hard to say to no people, and end up taking on more than you can, or should have to handle? Mindfulness techniques can help us build the inner self-love and peace needed to establish boundaries. The stronger, happier, and more grounded you are in yourself, the easier it is to protect your time and energy and reserve it for the things that are important to you.


Even if you don't have subconscious beliefs that are driving you to burnout, mindfulness can still help. Maybe you're burnt-out because you simply have a lot going on? Mindfulness practices can help you rise above your regular stress response and handle things from a place of inner calm and resilience.


Are You Seeing the Signs of Burnout in Yourself?

If you're starting to notice the signs of burnout in yourself, the time to act is now. Work and life burnout can play havoc on your body, and the symptoms can turn into a vicious cycle of fatigue, anxiety, health issues, and overwhelm that all feed into each other.


Mindfulness techniques are one of the most effective ways you can start addressing work burnout and start managing stress better. The right mindfulness practices can help you regulate your stress response, heal your body from the harmful effects of chronic stress, and uncover any subconscious beliefs that might be keeping you trapped in overwhelm.


Do you want one-on-one assistance with work burnout? We're here to help. Here at Intermountain Counseling, we specialize in helping professionals manage stress and beat burnout.


Contact us today for a free consultation.

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