Tiredness and exhaustion are signs your body is running on empty and once we spot these signals, we need to consider a solution, to avoid a crash or burnout.
Just last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognised burnout as an official syndrome stemming from chronic workplace stress. While the conversation is currently about ‘workplace’ burnout, stress can come from the many dimensions of our lives such as the ending of a relationship, financial strain, loss of work, taking on too much, supporting family and trying to juggle 101 things. So it’s not always about the workplace, but at least the conversation has started.
One thing we do know, is our always-on culture simply isn’t helping us.
Burnout according to WHO, is characterised by three key factors:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job
- reduced professional efficacy
So what do we know about exhaustion. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know how stressful and taxing it feels to be constantly running on empty. That’s why it’s so crucial to be able to recognise when we’re nearing a breaking point, so we can find a solution, take a break and prevent hitting a more difficult patch, where it will be harder to undo the damage.
Here are some hidden, and often surprising, signs to look out for.
1. Minor setbacks are overwhelming
We have an inner capacity to deal with tricky situations that arise. It’s called the fight-or-flight response and it’s a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack or threat to survival. The body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The body needs about 20 minutes to physically recover from an acute stress reaction. An adrenaline surge can last up to an hour.
Fight or flight is incredible useful, especially if you’re being chased by a tiger.
While this response system is incredibly useful in high stress situations, the problem is, in today’s society we tend to be in this response system a lot of the time, which is not good for our bodies. This is one of the key reasons we can spend weeks working out and really committed to results, and wonder why at the end of it, we are not losing weight.
Yoga is especially effective at taking the body out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into a more relaxed state known as ‘rest and digest’. We use a lot of techniques to support this, on our yoga retreats and fitness holidays.
Sometimes, we know we have reached the point of exhaustion when everything we touch falls apart, losing house or house keys, forgetting to buy something at the shop..everyone has examples. It’s the feeling of being beyond tired and while sleep absolutely helps, you notice it most, when sometimes eight hours of sleep just doesn’t cut it. It can reveal itself in body and mind.
The good news is, by taking some time out to unplug and reset, you can get back on track.
2. Small tasks are hard to focus on
We all know that feeling when we’ve come back from a holiday and we are ready to take on the world.
Our mind is sharp, we are brimming with ideas and everything feels good.
That sharpness of focus on big or small tasks is so evident. Prior to that break we can sometimes find it hard to focus or function on even the slightest thing. Our heads are full of thoughts racing about..and we just want the barrage of ‘things to do’, to just stop. Nothing makes sense and even small tasks seem overwhelming.
When this happens, it is crucial to respond with a very definitive ‘yes’ to the question; ‘do you wish to shut down?’.
A wellness break is especially beneficial in this instance because the programme has the right mix of ingredients, essential for enhanced well-being – the right amount of physical activity, yoga and mindfulness, great food, early nights and supportive community.
3. Social interactions feel like a chore
When I talk to students at yoga classes, they tell me that something they notice when they are over tired, is that they feel increasingly more resentful about social appointments and interactions and have a loss of patience for the people they love.
They’d rather go to bed.
Of course, it’s okay to occasionally have this feeling on a Friday night when you’ve worked a hard week, but if you are starting to notice you’d rather be on your own most of the time, it’s perhaps a signal, you’re tired and you simply need a break from everything.
4. Random physical symptoms appear
The symptoms can be mental or physical or both. The body is incredibly intelligent and possesses more intelligence than we give it credit for.
Warning signs can include but are not exclusive to: irritability, fatigue, lack of interest, digestive issues, body pain, acne or we all know that cold that keeps emerging.
Sometimes we just put a plaster over it and tell ourselves, to keep going even harder. It’s at times like this, we need to get a little kinder with ourselves, except where we are at and listen to the warning signs instead of ignoring them.
5. Feeling anxious and apathetic
Sometimes when we reach the point of exhaustion, we get anxious, and feel apathetic about life.
We start to question our work our abilities, whether or not we are a good parent, partner, brother, sister and generally want to crawl into a hole.
That’s when it’s time for a mental health break.
By switching off the laptop, your phone, and getting out in nature, you will instantly feel better.
6. You become less aware of your body
Have you ever noticed your bumping into things and generally more clumsy and completely unaware of your body, and at your yoga class, your balance is way off?
Sometimes we drop things more frequently and stub our toes in the morning or crash into things…that’s lack of body awarenss.
When we start noticing these things, it’s time to take a break and reflect. It’s called ‘damage limitation’.
Burnout is something that almost all of us are going to experience at some point in our lives, if not on a regular basis. While it’s not something we can avoid in our “always on” lives, what we can do is remain aware of the different symptoms, and make sure that we prioritise time to “check-out” and “reset” in our daily lives.
Feeling tired and burnt out or recognise these symptoms? Urban Yogi runs regular weekend and week-long retreats at home and abroad, that focus on delivering sustainable fitness, nutritional, and deep relaxation benefits.
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