What is Burnout?

Burnout can be described as a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion usually caused by prolonged and excessive amounts of stress. It often occurs when an individual feels overwhelmed, overworked, and emotionally drained, and they are unable to cope with the demands of their responsibilities.

Burnout can also be caused by feeling a lack of control, a feeling of unappreciation, or a mismatch between a person’s values and the demands of their work or environment.  If left unaddressed, burnout can lead to health problems and negatively impact a person’s personal and professional life.

At Leone Centre, we can appreciate how burnout can affect many areas of life, and our therapists are here to talk with you through these challenges in order to begin overcoming and healing from feeling associated with burnout.

How Does Burnout Impact Different Areas of Life?

Burnout can manifest in various areas of life, including work-related, COVID-19, caregiver, parental, relationship, and other areas.

Here are some of the areas of life affected by burnout:

  1. Work-related burnout: This is most commonly associated with work-related stressors such as excessive workload, long working hours, pressure to meet targets, and lack of control over work. Signs of work-related burnout can include exhaustion and a decreased sense of accomplishment or effectiveness.
  2. COVID-19 burnout: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges and stressors, such as fear of infection, isolation, uncertainty about the future, and changes in work and home routines. It has led to a new form of burnout known as COVID-19 burnout, which can cause emotional exhaustion, irritability, and a sense of hopelessness.
  3. Caregiver burnout: Common among those who care for a loved one, such as a family member or friend. Caregiver burnout can result from the emotional and physical demands of caregiving, leading to signs of exhaustion, anxiety, and depression.
  4. Parental burnout: Parental burnout is a type of burnout that may occur when the demands of parenting become overwhelming, and a parent feels they are no longer able to cope. Signs of parental burnout can include exhaustion, irritability, and a decreased sense of enjoyment in parenting.
  5. Relationship burnout: This can occur when the demands of a relationship become too much to handle. It can be caused by communication problems, conflicts, and feeling unappreciated. Signs of relationship burnout can include emotional exhaustion, irritability, and a sense of hopelessness about the relationship.

In all these areas, it’s essential to recognise and address the signs of burnout. This may include seeking support from others, setting boundaries, taking time off, or seeking help from a therapist.

How Burnout Affects Your Mental Health

Burnout can have a significant impact on mental health. Burnout can also lead to a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, making it difficult to engage in daily activities and maintain relationships.

Not only can burnout exacerbate existing mental health conditions, but it can also trigger new ones. For example, someone with a history of anxiety or depression may be more vulnerable to burnout, and burnout can worsen their struggles. Burnout can also contribute to the development of other mental health conditions.

How burnout can affect mental health:

  1. Burnout can cause emotional exhaustion and feelings of detachment
  2. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and irritability
  3. Burnout can cause a sense of hopelessness or helplessness
  4. Burnout can make it difficult to concentrate and engage in daily activities
  5. It can lead to social withdrawal and difficulty maintaining relationships
  6. Burnout can contribute to the development of unhealthy habits in order to cope, such as substance abuse or eating disorders.
  7. It can have a harmful impact on self-esteem and confidence
  8. Burnout can cause feelings of guilt, shame, and a sense of failure
  9. In severe cases, it can be challenging to experience enjoyment or pleasure in life.

How Burnout Affects Your Physical Health

Burnout can also have significant effects on physical health. This is because chronic stress, which is a significant component of burnout, can lead to inflammation and other body changes that can contribute to the development of conditions over time.

How burnout can affect physical health:

  1. Burnout can cause chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  2. It can lead to disrupted sleep patterns
  3. Burnout can cause headaches and muscle tension
  4. It can weaken the immune system and make individuals more susceptible to illnesses
  5. Burnout can contribute to the development of chronic health conditions, e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  6. It can cause unhealthy behaviours such as overeating, consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, and lack of physical activity.
  7. Burnout can lead to weight gain or weight loss
  8. It can cause a decrease in sexual desire or function
  9. Burnout can make managing chronic pain or other physical health conditions difficult
  10. In severe cases, it can decrease overall physical well-being and quality of life.

The Difficulty in Asking for Help

Asking for help with burnout can be challenging for several reasons. There is often a stigma attached to burnout, and some may see it as an indication of weakness or incompetence. This can make individuals hesitant to ask for help, as they may fear being judged or stigmatised. Additionally, people experiencing burnout often feel overwhelmed and may believe they don’t have time to seek help.

Some individuals may not be aware that what they are experiencing is burnout, or they may not know that help is available. They may dismiss their signs as part of the job or something they must live with. Lastly, admitting that one is struggling with burnout can be challenging, as it may feel like a personal failure or a sign of weakness. Some individuals may hesitate to seek help because they do not want to acknowledge their struggles.

Overall, these challenges can make it difficult for individuals to seek help for burnout, but it’s important to recognise that seeking help is a sign of strength and that there is no shame in asking for support when it is needed. With the right support and resources, individuals can learn managing skills, set boundaries, and make changes to prevent burnout in the future.

How Can Therapy Help With Burnout?

Therapy can help individuals who are experiencing burnout. A few ways that therapy can help include:

  1. Identifying and addressing the underlying causes of burnout: A counsellor can help a person identify the sources of their burnout, such as work-related stressors, caregiving demands, or relationship issues. They can then work together to develop ways to address these underlying causes.
  2. Making Space: A therapist can help a person to develop ways to manage the signs of burnout, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. This may include mindfulness techniques, relaxation exercises, and other stress-reduction methods.
  3. Setting boundaries: A therapist can help people set healthy boundaries to prevent future burnout. This may include setting limits on work hours, saying no to additional responsibilities, or prioritising self-care.
  4. Improving communication: A therapist can help a person to improve communication skills, which can help to reduce conflicts and stress in relationships, both at home and at work.
  5. Providing support and validation: A therapist can provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to talk about their burnout experiences, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and validate their experiences.

Overall, counselling can be a helpful tool in managing burnout and promoting well-being.

Individual Therapy and Couple Therapy

At Leone Centre, individual counselling can be an effective way to support individuals who are experiencing burnout. The therapists at Leone Centre provide a safe and confidential space for individuals and couples to explore their experiences and issues caused by burnout. Therapists at Leone Centre may use a range of integrative therapeutic approaches to help with burnout.

Individual therapy at Leone Centre can help individuals to identify the underlying causes of their burnout, set healthy boundaries, and practice self-care activities. With the right support and resources, individuals can learn to improve their overall well-being.

Couples therapy is an essential tool in addressing burnout within relationships, offering a supportive environment for partners to explore and resolve the challenges they face together. By fostering improved communication and understanding, couples counselling can help alleviate the strain and exhaustion caused by burnout.

In a therapeutic setting, couples learn to effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings, which enables them to understand each other’s perspectives and needs. Through this enhanced understanding, empathy is cultivated, promoting emotional connection and strengthening the foundation of the relationship.

With the guidance of a skilled therapist, couples work together to establish a shared sense of purpose and balance in their lives. By developing ways to manage stress and maintain emotional well-being, partners become better equipped to handle life’s challenges as a team, reducing the impact of burnout on their relationships.

Couples therapy helps reignite the passion and commitment that may have waned due to burnout. By working through their issues and reigniting the spark in their relationship, couples can emerge from therapy with renewed energy and a deeper connection, ready to face life’s challenges together.

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