Like many other mental health struggles that go ignored, burnout continues to plague more and more of the population every day. Yet, so many people choose to ignore the severity of the issue. Between work, family, friends, and all the other things we have to keep up with in life, how can you explain being burnt out in a way that others will understand?
Understandably this is a daunting task. Explaining burnout requires a lot of willpower to stand your ground on how you have been feeling. It requires you to take accountability for what you know you have done and what you know is not your responsibility. Keep reading to find out how you can take that stand so you could get back to feeling like you again.
How to Explain Burnout to the People Around You
You might worry about sounding like you are weak or lazy, or maybe you don’t want to sound like you are complaining. Whatever the situation, reaching out to talk to someone is important.
There are different ways to go about talking to different people about how you feel. You will talk to your boss differently than you would your family, but you would talk to your family differently than your friends as well.
Before you could talk about how you feel, you have to understand how you feel. It would help to know some of the causes of burnout before you talk to someone about it.
Causes of Burnout
There is so much that is expected of us from so many people in our day-to-day lives that avoiding burnout has become seen as a remarkable characteristic. It’s hard to avoid it in today’s overstimulated lifestyle. Burnout isn’t only caused by one thing, it is usually a combination of things.
We could all guess the first and most overlooked cause, and that would be overworking. There are more causes of burnout than just work though.
Some other reasons you could be feeling burnt out could be:
- You might be in a community with mismatching values
- If you feel that you are undervalued or underappreciated
- Maybe you don’t have the control of your life that you want
If you feel like you relate with any of these points, try to make some changes around you. If you make the changes early, you could avoid reaching a burnout point.
You Are Feeling Overworked
Being overworked is a huge problem nowadays, and the worst part is that it tends to be glorified. This can make discussing burnout in the workplace difficult and even taboo. This isn’t any less of a reason to talk about it with others though. There are a lot of people out there who feel the same way, but are also too worried to bring it up.
Work is important, but taking time for yourself is even more so. If you neglect yourself, taking care of other business in life just becomes tiresome. Overdoing anything, even something you enjoy, is bound to take the fun out of it. Try and remember that it’s ok to take a break every once in a while.
Being Part of the Wrong Community
The communities that you are a part of can make or break you. If you don’t place yourself in the right environment, you are depriving yourself of an essential element of growth. Just like plants, we need the proper environment to grow healthy.
Unlike plants, we can establish our roots wherever we decide to, so if you’ve found yourself in a community that isn’t right for you it’s time to start looking for somewhere else.
Feeling Underappreciated or Undervalued
We live in times of nonstop growth, constantly searching for what’s bigger and better. This eagerness to advance makes it hard to fully appreciate and understand the true value of things, and even people.
If this is something you have been feeling, take the time to talk to someone about it and find reassurance that the people around you care for you. In order to get your full worth, you need to go out there to show you know what you are worth.
Lack of Control
Lack of control will make you feel like you are going insane and just the following procedures. It’s easy to succumb to this feeling, whether you are feeling helpless or hopeless, gaining that control back is hard, but it can be done.
To help ease these feelings, you need to take on new opportunities when they become available. It may sound contradictory, but not trying to gain total control and becoming more flexible allows you to regain your freedom.
What Are the Signs of Burnout?
If you are already burnt out, chances are you know it. Catching the signs early could be difficult if you don’t pay close attention to how you are feeling. There are some signs that you could watch for to help you catch the problem early on. Doing so will save you a lot of stress and some gray hairs too.
You might be burnt out if:
- You have been lacking motivation
- You’re always tired and exhausted
- You find that you are easily irritated or prone to negative moods
- You don’t care about anything nearly as much
- You have been lacking concentration
Don’t overlook these symptoms when you notice them, make sure to take action as soon as possible. If you keep pushing those feelings to the side, you’ll be going from having a few days off to having no energy to even do the things you enjoy.
Lack of Motivation
If you just don’t feel that same drive to achieve your goals anymore, this can be a strong indicator of burnout. This lack of motivation will lead you to a lot of issues like procrastination and decreasing your performance.
If you notice that you haven’t felt motivated anymore, it might be time to take a break for a little bit. Use this time to explore some other interests, it will help you rekindle old flames and come back with fresh, new ideas.
You Are Always Exhausted
Exhaustion is a telltale sign of burnout. Feeling this way will make even the simplest tasks seem like a burden. You can only run on fumes so long before you start to damage your health.
Make sure you give yourself time to rest. Feeling tired isn’t a sign of weakness, it just means you’ve been putting a lot of non-stop effort in. We work to receive something, so after you’ve put in hard work and a lot of effort, you deserve to rest.
You Are Irritable And Prone to Negative Moods
This will cause you many issues if you don’t handle it as soon as possible. You are hurting more than just yourself if you ignore these feelings, you’ll end up hurting the people around you, too.
If you find yourself feeling especially irritable and down in the dumps, listen to what your body is telling you. Take some time off, and find someone you can talk to.
You Feel Indifferent
How are we supposed to tend to our lives properly if we just don’t feel interested in anything anymore? Having a sense of meaning and purpose makes life so much more enjoyable. If we don’t care about something, we are bound to neglect it, and the last thing we want is to neglect our work, our relationships, and most importantly, ourselves.
When we forget about what is meaningful to us, we can easily forget who we are and why we are here. Make a point to express to yourself something important to you, this way you don’t lose sight of where you are going.
You’ve Been Lacking Concentration
Not being able to keep focused will put a serious damper on your work and your relationships. It is difficult to listen, you keep getting distracted, you can’t remember anything, and the list goes on and on. You can go round and round trying to force yourself to concentrate, but it won’t help any.
When you find that you can’t stay focused, try to do something else for a little while and give your brain some time to refresh.
How to Explain Burnout to Your Family and Friends
No matter how close you are with someone or how much you trust them, it will be difficult to tell them that you need some space. We don’t want to offend them, and we also don’t want to worry anyone.
Fortunately, your family and friends should be more accepting and receptive about how you feel. Before you go and talk about how you’re feeling, you should do a few things first:
- Get a full understanding of how you are feeling
- When you go to talk, do not over-explain yourself
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself first
- Be clear, but don’t be rude
There are so many different contexts that this kind of situation could be in. It could be as simple as being ready to leave a party or people just plain and simple not giving you the space that you need.
How to Explain Burnout to a Child
It is incredibly important to teach burnout to children. Many people think children just live in totally carefree worlds and don’t face any of the same struggles as adults do, but they do. In this day and age, we are becoming more and more stressed every day, and that stress affects children just as much as adults.
If we want to make our children stronger and allow them to build a better future, we have to give them the tools to do so. One of those tools is being aware of their emotions. It’s best to instill that awareness as early as possible so they can maximize the time they get to develop that skill.
First, you need to look at how burnout for a child can differ from an adult. The sources of stress are different, but the feelings are very similar. When working with a child, there a couple of things you need to keep in mind:
- Understand their problems may not be as “serious,” but still treat them as they are
- Be especially open-minded with children
- Listen and do not critique their feelings
If you notice a change in your children’s attitude, take the time to talk with them. How can you explain burnout in a way that a child can understand, though?
You can’t just explain what burnout is to a child out of the blue, you will have to teach them as they show signs. When the opportunity is available, talk to your children about these things and take the chance to teach them.
- Let them know what it means to feel exhausted, and explain the importance of rest
- Teach them what it means to feel indifferent and encourage them to find things they love to do
- Talk to them about feeling unmotivated and encourage them to stay involved.
Teaching your children to spot these things will help them throughout their whole lives. They will be so much more aware of their emotions and they will be able to make the necessary changes as soon as possible.
Signs of Burnout in Children
It is our responsibility as adults to give our children the knowledge to understand what they are feeling. Being able to spot the signs of burnout in your child is the first step for you to help them identify what they are feeling.
Burnout in children can look very similar to an adult so don’t look past your child’s change in attitude. Some signs you could see that your kiddos are burning out are:
- They lack motivation
- They have been having trouble concentrating
- They are showing irritability or apathy
- They seem reclusive
If you notice any of these signs in your child, talk to them about it! They may know they aren’t feeling good, but they could likely use a little help to express themselves. They might even be waiting for someone to ask what’s wrong.
How to Explain Burnout to Your Boss?
This can be especially intimidating, what if you sound like you are complaining? Maybe things aren’t as bad as you think they are? What if they try to look for someone to replace you?
If you work for a good company, then you shouldn’t have to worry about your job being at risk. If you feel burnt out and like you need time off, you’re likely not wrong. There are just some things you need to keep in mind when going to discuss this topic.
When you go to talk to your boss:
- Know what you want and what needs to be done
- Make it known why you feel the way you do
- Have a solution ready
Unlike your friends and family, you’re talking with someone who may very likely feel the same way. One of the best things that you can do is make the situation easy for both of you and have those things in order so you could get straight to solving the issue.
With work, you will be required to provide at least a little bit of reasoning as to what is going on, but as long as you have legitimate reasons and could help make the process smooth, your company will likely be willing to work something out with you. If you need some time to think before asking to make changes, use a little bit of vacation time or sick time.
How to Explain Burnout in an Interview
So the last time you tried to talk to your boss about feeling burnt out it didn’t go so well. Now you have an interview coming up and you are dreading talking about having faced burnout at your last job. Of course, we don’t want that to give a bad impression, so how can we explain feeling burnt out in an interview?
This process will be similar to explaining the feelings to your boss. You will need to:
- Know why you felt the way you did
- Be honest about how you felt and what made you feel that way
- Talk about how you know it can be avoided
- Set your boundaries and stick with them
Honesty is the best thing here, that would be the most respectable thing to do. If those feelings of burnout disqualify you from the job you were going for, then there is no reason to be upset because you would have likely ended up in the same situation as before.
What Can You Do About Burnout?
Now that you know how to explain burnout to people, what can you do about it? Taking care of those feelings isn’t as simple as taking some time off and coming back later, some changes need to be made. The time you take to recover from burnout will be the best time for you to figure out what those changes are.
Some of the things you can do to start recovering from burnout are:
- Take the time to learn how to enjoy relaxing
- Catch up on some well-needed sleep
- Set aside some time to clean up and organize your stuff
- Set boundaries and commit to them
Without making the proper changes, you could expect yourself to just fall into a rinse and repeat the cycle of being burnt out.
Learn to Enjoy Relaxing
Getting out of that overworked mindset can be difficult and just plain uncomfortable. If you worry about work even while relaxing, then you never really took the time to relax.
Catch Up On Well-Needed Sleep
Chances are, you have been missing out on quality rest. Now that you are taking the time to recover, this will be a good chance to get a nice, full recharge. This will give you that kick start you need to get back on your feet.
Clean and Organize
You likely haven’t taken a lot of time to take care of your space or yourself. Give yourself some time, you deserve it, and tidy up your living space. This may not sound enjoyable, but having an organized space will help you have organized thoughts.
Set Boundaries and Commit to Them
This is one of the most important steps to prevent yourself from being burnt out again. If you don’t set boundaries, you will allow yourself to fall back into the routine. If you set boundaries but don’t commit to them, then you are going to go back to being disappointed in yourself for having not stuck up for yourself.
Explaining your feelings of burnout to anyone no matter how close they are is difficult to do. One of the hardest parts about expressing those feelings could be accepting what we perceive as weakness or vulnerability. It’s really neither of those things, just like your body will tell you that you need food or water, it’s just telling you that you need some time to rest and recuperate.
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Signs of Burnout in Children, understood.org