Stress does funny things to people. One minute you’re putting in extra hours at the office, juggling multiple projects and determined to see each one through to the end. The next, you find yourself giving up – resigned to negative outcomes and virtually paralysed by a lack of motivation. This loss of power occurs when your body runs out of strength both mentally and physically, resulting in burnout.
We caught up with Tony Tan, Head Counsellor at The Dawn, a luxury rehab in Thailand, to find out how women can catch themselves if they’re heading toward a burnout. Tony shared with us the 5 most common symptoms he’s seen at his centre for rehab in Thailand, and how to treat them.
1. You find yourself exhausted much more often
Prolonged physical fatigue, even without a clear cause, is a strong indicator of burnout. Usually it accompanies a loss of motivation, where you just feel like nothing you do is worthwhile, so you might as well just become passive. It’s important to understand that every part of you needs to relax once in a while – and if you try to go at full speed for too long, sooner or later your tank will be on empty.
2. Your mood becomes unbalanced
If you find yourself experiencing impatience, frustration and sadness more quickly and more frequently than usual, a stress overload may be to blame. In these cases, your behaviour can start to have a real effect on your relationships, so it’s best to recognise and address these feelings before they start causing problems.
3. You become sick more easily
What happens in your head can have real consequences for your body. Burnout brings about a loss of energy in the body, and that leads to a weakening of your immune system. As your body becomes under-resourced, it is less equipped to fight off colds, the flu, and other illnesses.
4. You make more mistakes
Unfocused thought, inattentiveness and absent-minded behaviour tend to creep in during a period of burnout, as your mind’s reserve energy is depleted. You may find yourself making uncharacteristic mistakes at work, or while driving, or performing household tasks. This phenomenon may occur at least partly as a consequence of a more general failure to a good night’s sleep.
5. You find satisfaction elusive
You no longer find joy in the things that used to make you happy, and your thoughts instead turn negative. You may avoid personal contact with other people, preferring isolation because you aren’t in the mood to be social.
Finding the way back
If the above descriptions resonate with your recent experiences, it’s probably a good time to take your foot off the gas pedal. Your body needs time to recover from constant stress and physical demands, and return to simple pleasures.
Peace and quiet, exercise and sunlight, long sleeps, hobbies that aren’t work-related, holidays and relaxed social occasions – these can give you some much-needed time away from the sources of your stress, letting you refuel, recharge, and return to work later with a much healthier mindset.