The last two years have rattled even the most steadfast.
From working from home, furlough, lockdown, home schooling and now back to it, with no certainty of how our future will look. It’s no surprise that stress levels are rising and more people are battling burnout.
From March 2020 all our lives were turned upside down. Since then there’s been numerous studies citing raised stress levels and burn out. In January 2021, scientists discussed post-covid stress disorder emerging as a result of the pandemic. COVID-19 has led to diverse mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other trauma- and stress-related disorders.
But what does burnout really mean?
Burnout is more than ‘just’ feeling stressed.
It’s a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by an extreme prolonged state of stress, such as 18 months of pandemic life and all that went with it.
When you are stressed, there is light at the tunnel. Yes, you might feel overwhelmed and tired, but you’re keeping going.
Being burnt out is like reaching mile 20 in the marathon. You’ve hit the wall, there’s nothing left – you’re running on empty.
It can be hard to recognise at first. Maybe it takes someone close to you to point it out that you are just not yourself.
Early signs you might be heading to burn out
Everybody experiences burn out differently, in Burnout: Solve Your Stress Cycle Amelia Nagoski points to the signs to look for, these include:
- Emotional and physical exhaustion – A constant feeling of overwhelming tiredness
- Depersonalisation – this is when you feel like you are outside yourself, as if you’re looking at yourself from a distance.
- Ambivalence – you aren’t interested in things you were previously, in fact you can’t really be bothered to do anything
- No sense of achievement – you don’t feel you finish anything, and even the things you do complete hold no pleasure for you
- Feeling irritated – things that didn’t use to bother you now really get under your skin, and you don’t have the patience to deal with them
- Trouble sleeping – you feel exhausted when you get into bed, but sleep is either elusive, or you find you are waking constantly during the night
- Turning to unhealthy coping strategies – Sometimes people self-medicate and become overly reliant on painkillers or alcohol, just to function.
Don’t try to manage this alone. Talk to a professional, a GP, a family member or with your Peppy practitioner.