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The symptoms of burnout and how to avoid it

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The symptoms of burnout and how to avoid it

If you have been feeling unmotivated or uninspired by your career or life in general, there is likely an underlying cause. You may be experiencing the symptoms of burnout.

Did you know that in 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognised burnout as an occupational phenomenon? Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, burnout was already a global concern.

In a webinar hosted by the University of KwaZulu Natal, psychiatry lecturer, Dr Saeeda Paruk, recounted studies conducted in 2012, revealing that 100% of junior doctors in the Western Cape experience burnout. This research only covered one industry in one province, nearly 10 years ago. Who knows what that number would look like when taking your role into account?

In the same way, excessive training without allowing yourself adequate recovery periods can be harmful to your health and not only has adverse effects on your performance but could lead to injuries.

Are you at risk? 

Do you struggle with work-life balance? Do you always have a heavy workload and work for long hours? Are you constantly training but feeling moody? Do you feel that you have little or no control over your body? These are all factors that put you at risk of experiencing burnout and overtraining.

Your susceptibility to what the WHO acknowledges as a syndrome rather than a medical condition also depends on your personality traits and family life. In other words, those who adopt a more positive approach to the activities they engage in, tend to have a more positive experience and are less prone to overtraining and burnout.

Listening to your body and learning the difference between necessary overload and pushing yourself too far is crucial for maintaining your physical and mental health.

How does burnout occur? 

 The short answer is fear. The fear of disappointing your employer, the fear of not crossing everything off your list, the fear of not being consistent when you are exhausted.

One way or the other, an underlying fear causes us to bite it out. But to their own detriment.

Statistica revealed that in 2020, global unemployment rates were the highest it had ever been. The research was compiled over a decade and projected that by 2023, about 199.8 million people will face employment worldwide. That’s nearly 30% of the population and a daunting forecast to contemplate. The lack of security will not only lead to negative work environments but will also have adverse effects on productivity levels.

How to know when you’re pushing yourself too far during training: 

 According to BODYTEC’s head of Training, Michael Burbidge, this can be a difficult tightrope to walk as overloading beyond your limitations is necessary to cause improvement. “However, overloading to the point when damage is caused is not ideal. One of the simpler ways to gauge whether you pushed too far beyond your limitations is your subjective perception of the training. Yes, exercise should be challenging and should leave you feeling tired. But it should also be enjoyable and leave you with a sense of accomplishment. The level and duration of exhaustion can also provide good subjective information.

If your exercise is reducing your capacity to function in your everyday life or leaving you feeling ill or unmotivated, you are probably pushing too far beyond your limits.”

What are the symptoms of burnout?   

While stress responses may vary, extremes of activity may cause:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained headaches, stomach and bowel problems
  • Turning to food or substances for comfort
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Disillusionment

How to avoid burnout: 

Start by choosing activities you enjoy and if you can’t, search for the reward in your activity.
It’s important to cultivate a positive identity with all activities because having fulfilment and opportunities to improve, builds confidence and space for healthy boundaries.

Other ways to avoid burnout are by taking short breaks – getting adequate sleep, ensuring that you’re maintaining a nutrient-rich diet, reducing your task list and being strict about not adding to your daily schedule, having fun while you train, and keeping the benefits of your activity top of mind.

Do you know someone who is on the brink of burnout? Share this post to help him or her to avoid it.

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