Are you constantly feeling tired and unmotivated lately? Do you find it hard to engage with things that you once loved? If so, you may be experiencing burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress and the inability to cope. It can be challenging to differentiate between laziness and burnout, as there is a lot of overlap between them. In this article, we’ll discuss six telltale signs that you’re experiencing burnout and not just laziness.
1. You Feel Disconnected From Everything
Do you feel like you’re going through the motions of everyday life on autopilot? Do you feel detached from yourself and everything around you? If so, you may be experiencing depersonalization, a common symptom of burnout. People experiencing depersonalization feel emotionally numb and empty as if they’re watching their life from outside of themselves. They don’t feel engaged by anything and struggle with the overwhelming sense of helplessness and inability to take back control of their lives.
2. You Are No Longer Motivated
Laziness is a character trait, but burnout can cause even the most motivated and high-achieving individuals to become exhausted, apathetic, and unmotivated. Suppose you used to be self-motivated and excelled in certain areas but have only recently become uninterested and unmotivated. In that case, you’re more likely suffering from burnout rather than laziness.
3. You Are No Longer Passionate
One straightforward way to distinguish between someone burnt out and lazy is that the former used to have passions and interests but now struggles to enjoy them. Burnout can make it challenging to engage in activities that were once enjoyable or fulfilling. You may even begin to resent or hate these activities due to overworking yourself and pushing yourself to the brink of burnout.
4. You’ve Become Moody and Irritable
It could signify burnout if you suddenly find yourself snappy and easily irritated. Moodiness and irritability are typical but often overlooked signs of burnout. This might be why you start having trouble controlling your emotions, mainly when it never used to be a problem. On the other hand, lazy people are often very relaxed, laid back, peaceful, and unaffected by things.
5. You’ve Neglected Your Self-Care
Neglecting self-care and withdrawing socially from others are some of the most concerning warning signs that someone may be experiencing emotional and physical burnout. You may notice changes in your eating and sleeping patterns and stop putting effort into your appearance. You may also find that even simple tasks exhaust you, leading you to spend most of your time alone. The critical difference between burnout and laziness is that burnout is not a trait you’ve always had but rather a state that develops over time due to excessive stress and a lack of coping mechanisms.
6. These Changes Happened Gradually
You should know that burnout develops in stages. Studies show five significant burnout stages (listed below), each with increasing degrees of severity. Many experience symptoms as early as the second phase when moderate stress exists. Still, optimism, interest, motivation, and performance may start declining. By the time you reach the fifth and final stage, burnout has already become so embedded in your life that the persistent mental and physical fatigue becomes more intense and harder to treat, making you more vulnerable to developing depression and anxiety.
What are the 5 stages of burnout?
1. Honeymoon phase
Like a honeymoon phase in a marriage, this first stage comes with energy and optimism. Whether starting a new job or tackling a new task, it’s common to experience the satisfaction that leads to periods of productivity and the ability to tap into energy for overcoming obstacles in this first phase. It is defined with enthusiasm and hope.
2. The onset of the stress phase
The honeymoon phase ends very quickly as reality sets in. Your hope begins to be replaced with the experience of stress. There are more frequent times when stress is your primary state of mind. At the beginning of this second stage, there may be new physical or mental signs of external pressures. You may start losing your ability to stay calm and focused. Your drop in energy makes you less productive when completing tasks. Physically, fatigue can start, making meditation, sleeping, and enjoying activities difficult.
3. Chronic stress phase
At this phase, stress becomes more persistent or even chronic. Under pressure, stress is likely to affect your work consistently. Examples include feelings of apathy, being late for work, or procrastinating on due dates. Socially, you may withdraw from everyday work-related conversations. You may become angry with coworkers. These feelings may even follow you home and can affect coworkers, friends, and family relationships.
4. Burnout phase
This phase is when you reach your limit and can no longer function as usual. Problems begin to consume you to the point where you obsess over them. You may also feel numb and experience extreme self-doubt. Physical symptoms will intensify, leading to headaches, stomach problems, and digestion problems. Friends, family, and coworkers may also notice changes in your personality.
5. Habitual burnout phase
Burnout can become a part of your everyday life, eventually leading to anxiety or depression. You can also begin to experience chronic mental and physical fatigue that prevents you from working productively. Your job status may be jeopardized if you continue on this path in your career. There is also the danger of self-medication with alcohol or other substances. It’s crucial to get help at this phase.
How to Recover From Burnout
Experiencing burnout can be challenging, but it’s possible to recover with the right approach. Here are six effective ways to recover from burnout:
- Take time Off: Taking time off from work or other stressors can give you the rest you need to recover from burnout. Consider taking a vacation or a personal day to focus on yourself and your mental health.
- Reconnect with Loved Ones: Social support is essential for recovering from burnout. Spend time with family and friends who can offer you emotional support and help you feel connected.
- Practice Self-Care: Self-care is crucial in recovering from burnout. This can include activities such as exercise, meditation, yoga, or even just taking a relaxing bath. Prioritizing self-care can help you feel more balanced and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Set Realistic Goals: Setting realistic goals can help you feel more in control and reduce overwhelming feelings. Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable ones, and focus on one thing at a time.
- Seek Professional Help: A mental health professional can offer valuable support and guidance in recovering from burnout. They can help you develop coping strategies, identify sources of stress, and work through any underlying issues contributing to burnout.
- Make Lifestyle Changes: Healthy lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and reducing alcohol or caffeine consumption, can help you feel more energized and improve your overall well-being.
In conclusion, it’s essential to understand the difference between laziness and burnout. Burnout is a serious condition that affects many individuals, with over 75% of adults in the United States experiencing symptoms of burnout. It’s crucial to recognize the signs of burnout and seek help from a mental health professional if you’re experiencing any of them. The sooner you address burnout, the easier it will be to recover and avoid developing more severe mental health conditions.
If you or someone you know is experiencing burnout, taking steps to manage stress and prioritize self-care is essential. Some practical ways to reduce stress and prevent burnout include exercise, mindfulness practices, getting enough sleep, and setting healthy boundaries. Remember, taking a break and prioritizing your mental and physical health is okay.
Burnout is not laziness, and it’s essential to recognize the signs and seek help if you’re experiencing it. By prioritizing self-care and managing stress, you can prevent burnout and maintain good mental and physical health.