Burnout syndrome (BOS) is a by-product of chronic stress that has not been successfully managed. Typically, it manifests slowly and gradually. Symptoms include physical and emotional exhaustion, as well as feeling mentally distant from your job and less capable of doing it effectively.
According to the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), BOS is an occupational phenomenon and should not be used to describe experiences in other areas of life.
Common signs of burnout syndrome.
- High blood pressure
- Constant fatigue
- Headaches, stomach aches, back pain, muscle tension
- Lowered immunity
- Getting sick more often
- Digestive issues
- Sleep issues
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of interest in things
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling unable to cope
- Mental exhaustion
- Brain fog
- Feeling emotionally drained
- Cynicism toward your job
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling like a failure
- Feeling trapped and defeated
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling detached and irritable
- Feeling alienated
- Feeling ineffective
- Doubting your abilities
- Lack of purposefulness
- Isolating yourself from others
- Taking longer to get things done
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
- Reduced ability to work effectively
- Poor performance
- Missing deadlines
- Lack of productivity
- Leaving work early or coming in late
- Increased irritability
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to help you cope
Strategies for recovering from and preventing burnout syndrome.
Identify your stressors.
Consider the causes of your burnout. Make a list of everything that’s overwhelming you. Knowing what situations or people consistently trigger stress will enable you to avoid them as much as possible, or find ways to work around them. Identify changes you can make to reduce your job demands or make them less draining and ways you can increase your work resources.
Carve out time for rest and relaxation.
Slow down and engage in restful activities such as listening to music, reading, enjoying a hobby, doing something creative, or spending time in nature. Quiet your mind by closing your eyes and trying to tune out all the information your brain is processing. As thoughts pop up, visualize putting them in a jar and then placing the jar on a shelf.
Take care of your body.
Prioritize eating healthy, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.
Your body needs sleep in order to recharge. Lack of sleep amplifies burnout symptoms. Getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep at night can help improve your focus and sense of well-being. Build a bedtime routine and stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
Physical activity helps your body release tension and relieves stress by producing mood-boosting endorphins. Aim for a minimum of 20 minutes at least four times a week.
What you put in your body impacts your mood and energy level throughout the day. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet can help boost your immune system and make you less vulnerable to stress and fatigue.
Prioritize your work tasks in order of those that are most important to those that can be set aside until you have more time and energy. Consider canceling or rescheduling some of the existing commitments on your calendar. If there are more things that need immediate attention than you can handle, find someone to whom you can delegate them.
Be compassionate with yourself.
Avoid negative self-talk. Remind yourself it’s okay not to be perfect. Assess your struggles without being judgmental, and acknowledge your progress and accomplishments.
Take short breaks throughout the day. Spending a few minutes stretching, doing some deep breathing, or taking a short walk can help you unwind and reset your energy level.
Know your limitations.
Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say no. If you say yes to everything, you will eventually find yourself drowning in more than you can handle.
Looks for ways to make clear divisions between your work life and your life life. Avoid taking work home with you. If you are a remote worker, keep your work confined to a specific area of your home. Have a designated space for your workstation instead of spreading it out to other areas of the house. Put a hard stop time to your workday, and say no to new job requests when you are already overloaded.
Seek help from your superiors.
Let your boss know you’re maxed out. Don’t be afraid to discuss the possibility of a deadline extension, reduced workload, a more flexible schedule, and/or perhaps some time off to recharge.
Reach out to friends and family members.
Open up to someone you trust. Social interaction has been shown to increase positive emotions. Reach out to friends or family members who care about your well-being and with whom you can share your experiences.
Seek professional support.
A trained mental health professional can help you address your burnout issues, identify causes, and equip you with coping skills to prevent future burnout syndrome.
What does the Bible say about burnout?
Take time to rest.
Rest is a necessity. We need to make it a priority. Even God took time to rest on the seventh day.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all his work. – Genesis 2:2-3, NIV
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. – Exodus 20:8-10, NIV
God doesn’t want you to try to do it all. He wants you to acknowledge your need for Him and turn to Him when you feel weary and burdened.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:29-29, NIV
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11, NIV
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. – Jeremiah 31:25, NIV
Lean into God.
God wants you to put Him first in your life. He wants you to trust Him and put your faith in Him.
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22, NIV
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. – Psalm 29:11, NIV
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. – Psalm 145:18, NIV
The LORD Himself goes before you; He will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:29, NIV
If you are struggling with burnout syndrome, please know that you don’t have to suffer through the process alone. Please give one of the faith-based counselors in our online directory a call today. We would be happy to answer your questions and/or set up an appointment to discuss how we can help you manage the challenges you are facing and walk you through the healing process.
“Burn-out an ‘occupational phenomenon’: International Classification of Diseases.” World Health Organization. May 28, 2019.
“Stressed”, Courtesy of Christian Erfurt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Muscle Tension”, Courtesy of Afif Kusuma, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Overwhelmed”, Courtesy of Luis Villasmil, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sunbeams Through the Trees”, Courtesy of Wonderlane, Unsplash.com, CC0 License