Burnout - The Modern-Day Phenomenon

Burnout - the modern-day phenomenon

Burnout seems to be a buzzword doing the rounds in the media lately.

However, while it may be a buzzword - it’s very much a real thing. Burnout is a level of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that simple acts of rest and self-care won’t cure. It’s the point when you can’t cope anymore and everything mentally and physically can seem like an enormous effort.

In May 2019, the WHO classified it as a medical condition and defined it as ‘an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’

Burnout truly is a modern-day phenomenon, resulting from things like social media and fast-paced and pressure-filled work environments. We shouldn’t be finishing our workdays feeling frazzled and drained, however, this has become the norm for many of us. If we don’t feel worn out, a lot of us simply feel like we’re not doing enough - which is crazy!

Woman on phone

According to Selina Barker the author of Burnt Out,  there are four main burnout archetypes. These represent how you behave when you’ve gone into overdrive and stress has taken over and you may experience more than one.


1) The Over-doer

The over-doer usually is a naturally resourceful and practical person, but when burnout is coming on they can constantly feel like ‘There’s not enough time’.  Their schedule is jam-packed, they find it hard to relax and their to-do list is never-ending. They may feel like everything is urgent and that work just keeps piling up, all while they are left physically drained and worn out. 


2) The Over-giver

The over-giver is naturally a loving and caring person who feels deeply for others. However, when burnout rears its head, they may suddenly find they’re helping everyone else out while their own work and self-care fall down the priority list. They may feel like they are spread too thin and can start resenting helping or caring for others. 


3) The Over-thinker

The over-thinker is a natural problem-solver and smart thinker, however, when burnout is coming on their thinking can go into overdrive. Their mind will race and they may find it hard to switch off from work and have trouble falling to sleep. Even the smallest decisions can feel completely overwhelming and anxiety can be very high. 


4) The Over-achiever

The over-achiever usually has strong visions and clear goals and love bringing them to life. However, when burnout is approaching projects can stop feeling fun and all they may think about is work. They may start working like a machine, all while losing confidence and doubting their abilities.

Balance or burnout

However it shows up for you, when burnout hits, it can take a long time to recover, so be gentle with yourself. Take the time to rest and recover and completely focus on getting better.

Symptoms of burnout can include physical exhaustion, trouble sleeping, loss of compassion, physical illness, loss of confidence, brain fog, feeling unable to cope and more. These are all signs that your body has had enough and it wants you to stop and rest. 

Many can experience burnout multiple times throughout their life, but how can we avoid this?

Burnout happens when we’re feeling depleted of energy and wellbeing. Usually, we have let things like work priorities build-up and have let our self-care rituals slide. So to keep burnout at bay we need to ensure we’re looking after and protecting our physical, mental and emotional energy levels. 

Woman stressed looking at laptop

Taking Care of your Physical Energy

Exercise is without a doubt the best way to fill up your physical energy levels. Whether you do an hour-long gym workout or take a walk outside, daily exercise helps boost your endorphins and dopamine levels and will help fight off burnout. 

Eating well and having a good sleep routine is also essential in keeping your physical energy levels high. 


Taking care of your Mental Energy

Social media and endless to-lists drain our mental energy, which can lead us to feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Set yourself a task this week to limit your time scrolling through Instagram and notice the difference it makes to your mind and wellbeing. 

When it comes to to-do lists we can all be guilty of trying to achieve way too much in one day. Limit your day to 2-3 tasks and don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to get a weeks worth of work done in one day. 

Taking regular breaks from work throughout the day and practising yoga and mediation are also all great ways to replenish your mental energy. 


 Taking care of your emotional energy

Our emotional energy can be quickly depleted when we don’t tune in to what we actually need. We can find ourselves saying yes to invites because we feel obligated to or texting back a friend straight away because we feel like we have to. Step back and focus on filling your own cup first. Learn to say no to events you don’t want to attend and learn to enjoy spending time alone. Also, don’t be afraid to limit time with people who drain your energy.


While work is important, so is living a life you love. Fill your days with things you really enjoy. It can be as simple as cooking your favourite dinner, phoning a friend or enjoying your coffee outside in the sun. Burnout may be a modern phenomenon, but it’s one you don’t have to experience.


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