We have all had experiences where we are pushed to our limits on something, whether it be a physical, emotional, academic, or another sort of challenge. I remember playing sports as a kid and being very proud of the number of chin-ups I could do, I'd go until I couldn't do anymore. This was fine for me because I was happy to do it and recovered quickly. But what do we do when we push ourselves to our limits on something more severe than a little exercise?
Burnout is a form of exhaustion, caused by extended periods of stress and is the body's way of saying it can't go any further. What we often fail to remember is that all of the parts of our individual bodies need to work together. When one part of our body is in distress, we need to tend to it before moving forward. If we don't, we risk pushing it to exhaustion or failure.
With burnout, a prolonged period of strain causes some part of the body (often the mind) to be distressed, but what we have a tendency to do is ignore that distress because we have work that we need to do, families to take care of, priorities that need to be dealt with... So much so, that we seem to adapt to the circumstances, but fail to recognize that we haven't actually done anything to alleviate that stress. It actually might become worse, because now we don't notice it so much and it becomes even less of a priority for us to deal with.
The causes of this stress can vary widely from person to person, as everyone becomes agitated by different causes, but some of the main ones include overwhelming responsibilities, aggravating social relationships, rapid life developments, or a high commitment to the job. Now these may be things that you can't afford to separate yourself from at this time in your life, but you can always practice techniques of relaxation to cope with them more effectively. It is also key to be clear with your expectations so that others are less likely to push you into a situation that you are not comfortable in or cannot maintain for the amount of time that they would like. Even though it is good to work hard, make others proud, and get the job done; this shouldn't come at the expense of your long term wellbeing.
Some things to remember therefore are, burnout can happen to anyone, it's okay not to see accomplishments every time that you are at work, and if you find your attitude changing or that you are becoming regularly agitated, you may be facing burnout. It's easy to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves and cause ourselves to burnout. If you can recognize that the surrounding stress may be doing this to you, try to evaluate your options and come up with a plan to improve the situation. It's not always a bad thing to overextend yourself, but it takes mindfulness and caution to make sure it doesn't severely impact your future. Try to make time for your needs, and get rest when you feel you need it. Most of the time your levels of fatigue and your attitude will play a good role in telling you when you need rest or recovery.