Your to-do list is a mile long, but you just can't seem to find the energy to get whatever finished. Seems familiar? If so, you may be suffering from burnout.
A little stress is normal - and it can even be a good thing!
But if the stress keeps building up, it can eventually start to take its toll on your mood, motivation, and productivity.
"In small amounts, stress can be helpful because it can actually increase our focus, motivate us to use healthy coping skills, and spur us on to life's challenges," says Matthew welsh, MS, Ph.D., registered clinical psychologist in Illinois and Kansas.
“However, burnout is different because it's an excessive amount of unhealthy stress that depletes our resources, pushes us beyond our ability to cope with day-to-day challenges and often leaves us withdrawn, isolated or overwhelmed,” adds Welsh.
If you're under a ton of stress right now, be on the lookout for these signs of burnout.
1. Your productivity has stopped
It's a vicious cycle: When you're exhausted, your productivity can take a toll. You might end up falling even further behind, making you even more stressed.
“When they're exhausted, motivation and productivity tend to really take a hit,” says Jolie Weingeroff, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in RI and New York. "It can be difficult to access the enthusiasm or motivation that leads to your most productive states."
2. You release your healthy habits
It takes strong minded to get through a tough workout or resist a craving for junk food. But when you're way over your stress threshold, you might not feel like you have mental energy to spare.
“Your usual workout routine and other healthy habits tend to go out the window, and this can be one of the first signs of burnout,” Weingeroff says.
"When we are exhausted, our ability to make healthy lifestyle choices is greatly diminished," adds Lauren Cook, PsyD, therapist, speaker and author. "We go into survival mode, and that usually involves making choices that include any path of resistance - sitting on the couch, eating processed foods, etc."
3. You lack creativity
If you feel like you don't have the brains for tasks that require creativity and problem-solving right now, it may be a sign of burnout.
It can happen when you regularly pass the point of exhaustion.
"If your brain and body need a break, forcing them to work will zap your creativity," says Michele Leno, Ph.D., LP, registered psychologist and founder of DML Psychological Services, PLLC, in the Detroit, MI subway. “If you're trying to avoid burnout, know when to walk away.”
4. You are in a Funk
Can't shake off a bad mood? Burnout can be to blame.
“Emotionally exhausted people may notice that they feel unhappy, frustrated, impatient, or irritable,” says Sharon Grossman, Ph.D., psychologist and author of The 7E solution to burnout.
Burnout can also make you your worst critic. When you experience more stress than you can handle, you may start to feel helpless or out of control, which can result in negative self-talk.
“You might notice a shift in your thinking towards more self-critical and rigid thoughts like 'I just can't do this' or 'Maybe I'm not meant for this,'" Weingeroff says.
5. You mentally "checked" at work
When the stress at work becomes overwhelming, you may start to feel disconnected from your job, even though you usually love where you work or what you do.
“You may notice that you are unable to connect with the reasons why you chose your career in the first place, and a lack of positive feelings towards your job,” Weingeroff says. "You may start to avoid interactions with your coworkers or notice that you have less sense of belonging."
6. You feel aches and pains
"Working at constantly high stress levels takes a toll on your body," Weingeroff says. Some physical symptoms of burnout can include:
- muscle tension
- neck or back pain
- gastrointestinal problems
7. Your anxiety goes through the roof
If you are stuck in the overdrive, your stress relief techniques may not do the trick, which can make you feel like you're constantly on edge.
“Your baseline anxiety will likely be much higher than usual,” Weingeroff says. "This will make it easier for you to be overwhelmed and find yourself making fun of others, rushing and making mistakes outside of your character."
8. Self-care just doesn't happen
If you are suffering from burnout, personal care is essential. But when you have too much on your plate, your personal care routine is probably one of the first things you let slip.
“So, just when you need to take care of yourself the most, you can eat poorly, consume more caffeine and alcohol - which can disrupt sleep - and exercise less,” says Grossman. "This is how you get stuck in the burnout experience."
The good news?
If you can spot the signs of burnout, you can take simple steps to combat it - like adjusting your routine or asking for social support.
Most importantly, give yourself time to rest and recharge so that you can break the cycle of burnout and regain the motivation and energy you need to achieve your goals.
For some people, crunches and other abdominal bourrinage workouts are the last thing they’d want to do — so they don’t. ' Part of the perception is that it’s difficult. We tend to want to avoid doing things that require effort, especially as we get older, when that’s harder for us, ' says Lorna Brown, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
But skipping abdominal strengtheners can have a big effect on your mobility and independence — and not for the better.
The abdominal groupes de muscles ( often called the abs ) include not just the visible ' six-pack ' or rectus abdominis groupes musculaires in the front of your abdomen, but also the obliques in the front and side of your abdomen and the transverse abdominis across your lower abdomen. ' The transverse abdominis is the inner bourrinage underneath the outer abdominal layers. It provides stability around the spine, ' Brown explains.
The abs are part of your core, the collection of muscles that act as your foundation. In addition to your abs, your core includes the groupes de muscles along your spine, near your shoulder blades, in your hips and buttocks, and in your pelvis.
You must work all your core muscles to stay strong and active. ' We need that strong core or base so that the arms and legs can perform well, ' Brown explains.
What if you don’t mind doing shoulder, hip, and back muscle exercises, but can’t stand the ab workout ? You’re putting your entire core in jeopardy. ' If your core isn’t stable and strong, you increase the risk for injury and falls when you lift something or walk, ' Brown says. A weak core also makes it hard to turn, bend, and get dressed.
Starting place : Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral.
Move of the month : Abdominal contractionPhotography : Michael CarrollStarting position : Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral. Movement : Exhale as you tighten your abdominal groupes de muscles by pulling them up toward your spine. Keep your spine neutral ( no arching your back ! ). Hold. Release your abdominal muscles and return to the starting position. Do this eight to 10 times, then rest for 30 to seconds. If you can, repeat the sequence.
Abdominal exercises don’t have to include crunches, and you don’t have to do a long ab workout. You may find it more palatable to sprinkle ab exercises throughout the day. ' Shorter segments of exercise can still contribute to better health and function, ' Brown says. The key is to make each ab exercise count by ' activating ' the groupes musculaires.
Can’t think of ways to fit abdominal exercises into your schedule ? Check out the Harvard Special Health Report Gentle Core ( www. health. harvard. edu/gc ), and consider the following tricks.
Watch TV from the floor. You probably did this when you were a kid. Try it now, and maybe you’ll be more likely to do an ab exercise, like modified push-ups ( leaning on your forearms instead of your hands ). ' Or try lying on your back with your knees bent, ' suggests Brown. ' Then activate the abdominal zones musculaires by drawing in your belly button toward the spine. '
Use phone time. Stand with your back flat against the wall while chatting on the phone. Activate your abs. ' Draw in your belly button again, and push yourself against the wall, ' says Brown
Take a break from work. Whether you’re in the kitchen or at the office, you can do a modified push-up against a desk or counter.
Don’t just stand there. Sneak in an exercise while you stand in line at the bank or grocery checkout. ' Do a single-leg stand and slightly lift your leg off the floor while activating your core groupes de muscles, ' Brown suggests. ' Keep your chest high and your shoulder blades down and back. '
March in place. Next time you’re brushing your teeth, march in place. ' Make it intentional. Draw in the abdominals and keep your hips level, so they’re not swiveling, ' Brown adds
You can even activate the abdominal muscles while you’re walking. ' Just be very intentional about it, ' says Brown. Think about posture and force activation with each step. The more often you activate your abs, the stronger they’ll become, making ab workouts a lot less daunting.