Burnout is REAL: The 5 Stages of Burnout
In all aspects of life, we experience stress and anxiety and it's totally fine. But sometimes, things get too difficult and stress is compounded making us unable to cope. This is when you start to experience BURNOUT!
Based on a research by the Winona State University, there are five distinct stages of burnout. We'll tackle each one of them here.
The Honeymoon Stage
During the early days or weeks of your job, you're feeling fresh and excited. You'll be enthusiastic and brimming with energy. Though the work may be demanding at this stage, in your mind there's no task that you can't do. This sets the stage for a possible burnout.
The key here is to start early. Find out and start practicing healthy coping strategies for when the job gets more taxing. In theory, if you have developed adaptive and positive coping techniques then you can keep yourself on this stage without any problems.
The Balancing Act
You've done well in surviving the early stages of your new job. But you're enthusiasm is slowly waning and you're starting to feel the need to balance out the extremes that you're in. How you feel about your work in one day may be variable during the next. Some days may feel less stressful than others and at times it feels like you're back in the Honeymoon stage again.
At this stage you may experience these signs in different intensities.
-Fatigue (both mental and physical)
-Escapist activities (such as eating, drinking, smoking, zoning out, etc.)
There would be some whose personal needs tend to be neglected just to stay on top of things at work. This is the balancing act stage. Carefully monitoring and being aware of what may take place during this stage can give you an idea of when you may need to take a break from work. Revitalising your energy and attitude towards your job is possible by stepping away from it.
You'll find yourself having the same symptoms as in the 'Balancing Stage' but this time, everything seems intensified. You don't feel any enthusiasm for the job and it feels like nothing you do is productive. You are running on fumes at this point in your work stage.
Although you know this - you deny that you are overworked and you see the blame in others for your unhappy state. Your social life has certainly taken a back seat here as you let your work consume you while trying hard to stay afloat.
Pick up on some of the signs of this stage:
-Physical Illness (that may be brought about by stress)
At this point - being conscious of how you are feeling may be a good way to gauge where you are. Knowing that you are reaching your limit may also be important. Get a burnout buddy - someone who isn't working in the same office and isn't working in the same industry. S/He should be someone who knows you well and act like your alarm of sorts when things are shifting.
The Crisis Stage
When you run yourself to the ground you'll eventually hit the breaking point. Emotionally you'll be a wreck and stress will be unmanageable and that will manifest through physical symptoms. At this point, the symptoms become chronic.
People who are on this stage reported feeling detached from life and don't feel that they control their lives. In the crisis stage, you may feel jaded towards work making you feel empty and always anxious. Many psychologists noticed a manifestation of anxiety and/or a depressive disorder and employees may be at risk of a mental breakdown or a major crisis. Some either seek professional help while others leave the job entirely.
When you're enmeshed, your burnout symptoms are so embedded in your life that even YOU are not conscious about it.
Most people who drop out of the toxic environment in the crisis stage realise the need to do so. However, professionals who can't tell that they're trapped develop a risk for severe chronic long-term physical and mental illness.
They may perform very well in their jobs and are identified as extremely hard working, even esteemed by their colleagues but on the flip side - they are actually very unhappy. They feel they are stuck and can't get out of the cycle of burnout. In most extreme situations - they end up having a nervous breakdown or end up attempting suicide to escape.
These are the 5 stages of Burnout. Take heed and be aware of where you are so you can step out of the situation and alter your state of mind. Check out our Tips to Avoid Burnout to help you get out of the vicious cycle.