Burnout: Checklist of All Phases

In previous posts we talked about how each stage feels. This post puts it all together with some identifiable signs that might help you identify if you are experiencing burnout.

Stage 1: The high point

  • Work: You are producing work at a quick speed, and doing it well.
  • Mood/Energy: You feel energized an creative; you are ready to take on new tasks and activities
  • Health: At this point, there are few negative health indicators aside from tiredness
  • You want to keep going as long as you can at this pace, but you know it might not be sustainable.
  • Exercise: You have the energy to exercise if you haven’t already filled your schedule.

Stage 2: Reality starts creeping in

  • Work: You are regretting taking on some of the extra tasks. You make more mistakes, and are working less efficiently.
  • Energy: Although you enjoy doing things and events, you are often relieved when something is cancelled because you could use the down time.
  • Mood: Your mood is lower. You start to feel more irritation and anxiety.
  • Health: You make poorer decisions, sometimes for convenience. You start ignoring signs that your choices are affecting your health.

Stage 3: Feeling the pressure, but are still in control of your choices

  • Work: Mistakes become more noticed and significant. Stress is felt when you have to make up for time or money lost.
  • Energy: Your energy is even lower. You are tired every morning, and you don’t have the energy to socialize with people.
  • Mood: The irritation from Phase 2 has turned into anger, frustration and apathy.
  • Health: Minor illnesses are more common. You use less healthy things to escape or find comfort, even when you know they don’t help you in the long run: watching TV more, binging on social media, using alcohol and food.
  • Exercise: The tiredness from an unbalanced life and stress from pressure are draining your energy even more. Now is the time to re-introduce exercise to reverse the process.

Stage 4: Intervention from others is needed

  • Work: The ability to work (effectively) will depend on your energy level on a day-to-day basis.
  • Energy: Your mental and physical energy is so low, you are not able to step away from poor choices voluntarily.
  • Mood: You continue to escape from reality by binging even more on your habit of choice. Your overall world view is pessimistic and you cannot think about your problems productively.
  • Health: At this stage, rest and mild exercise is recommended. You will need a doctor’s care to navigate through this stage.

If you recognize some of these signs in yourself or in someone you know, it is important to stop the process before it becomes too difficult to return to a more balanced life.

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