Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Peh Wei Jie on October 21, 2022
5 Burnout Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Published | 7 min read
Burnout symptoms are easy to ignore if you are constantly on the go. Learn how to identify and correct them before they turn into a more serious health complication.
Many people struggle with
However, burnout has serious consequences. It can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and more.
Read on to learn how to identify burnout symptoms and what you can do to ease stress.
What Is Burnout?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician
It results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. He says individuals face a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion due to excessive and prolonged stress. They find an inability to cope with daily tasks.
“From the TCM perspective, this state of chronic fatigue can be classified under consumptive disease. It refers to a
“When one faces chronic fatigue, the
Fatigue is related to the quantity and quality of qi a person can maintain; hence the primary cause of fatigue would be Qi Deficiency. Prolonged periods of fatigue can lead to other deficiencies, namely
Burnout Symptoms To Be Aware Of
Some experts compare burnout to trying to drive your car for too long or too fast, to the point where the petrol tank empties but your foot is still on the accelerator. The engine heats up and overwhelms the car’s mechanism and ends up breaking down.
Here are some signs of burnout to look out for:
1. You feel fatigued, not just tired
Fatigue is different from just being tired from over-exerting yourself occasionally. Your body runs out of energy and optimal levels of functioning and essentially shuts down to a level of low activity.
You may start off feeling a “normal” sort of tired. However, as you approach burnout, it will feel like you are extremely tired all the time.
You may also feel tired no matter how much you rest. When your body is exhausted, it forgets when to switch from an active state to a resting state.
In a healthy body, we’ll instinctively wind down towards the end of the day, in preparation for a good night’s sleep. When you’re in a state of burnout, your mind keeps racing – you can’t switch off.
2. There are noticeable changes in your sleep and diet habits
Sure, you’re sleeping but your quality of sleep suffers. You may also eat more or less than usual, as well as develop gastrointestinal issues.
“Liver Qi Stagnation and Spleen Deficiency are where chronic stress leads to extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, and feelings of depression, affecting the Liver, causing a Stagnation of Liver Qi,” explained Physician Peh.
“This is presented with bloating, indigestion, loose stools, or constipation. This often results from erratic eating patterns, or excessive worrying and over-thinking, which is common from individuals experiencing burnout,” Physician Peh continued.
3. Your work is starting to suffer
With no switching off, you wake up the next day tired, with a sense of dread or indifference. You feel overwhelmed by simple tasks and make mistakes. You may also find it hard to concentrate on one task because you have so much on your mind.
4. You get sick easily and cannot recover as fast
Sometimes burnout itself can be a result of weakened immunity due to other illnesses, but often it is the other way around – burnout weakens immunity.
5. Your body hurts
Did you know that back pain itself can be one of the signs of burnout? “Kidney Qi Deficiency refers to a depletion in the deepest foundation of energy
“Consumption of caffeine, recreational drugs and excessive stress often deplete Kidney Qi, which will cause a reduction in Kidney Yin and Yang in the long run. Individuals facing this usually encounter weakness and aches in the lower back or knees, memory loss or even deafness and osteoporosis,” Physician Peh continued.
How To Stop Burnout Symptoms
Stop burnout in its tracks at the earliest signs because ignoring them can lead to compromised health. A key first step is to admit that you are burnt out. This honest recognition paves the way for a reset and healing.
You may then try the following approaches to prevent burnout symptoms:
Acupuncture and acupressure massage
Physician Peh recommends acupoints on the Liver meridian to correct Qi circulation within the body. One such common acupoint will be Tai Chong (LR3), which can clear Qi Stagnation and improve circulation.
“This acupoint is also one of the points of the Four Gates, which have the function to open and circulate the energy flow within the body. This is akin to unblocking a stagnant drain and helps the body to relax,” stated Physician Peh.
A study involving nurses reported that acupuncture promotes less stress, more patience with patients, better sleep, and increased mindfulness in 60% of the respondents.
In a clinical trial involving 120 patients with increased stress levels, divided into three groups, acupuncture was shown to be significantly better than conventional treatment. Physician Peh also encourages other remedies, such as cupping therapy, or Qigong for busy individuals.
In the field of TCM, many herbs can be utilized to nourish the body. The organs in particular that address burnout and its corresponding symptoms are the Liver and Kidneys. Examples include goji berries (Gou Qi) and cinnamon (Rou Gui), which can boost the Kidney
Lingzhi is another great remedy to use for stress. It helps improve the body’s response to stress, promoting relaxation, alleviating fatigue, and reducing cortisol levels that elevate blood sugar and make you crave unhealthy foods.
“However, one should first consult a licensed TCM physician for a detailed diagnosis before consuming such herbs,” Physician Peh cautioned.
“The Spleen and stomach are the body’s powerhouse, providing
He suggests abstaining from excessive alcohol intake, reducing sugar, and consuming fewer cold or processed foods. These will lead to increased exhaustion.
Warm and nourishing foods and beverages can be chosen instead. This helps replenish
Address Future Burnout Symptoms
As you rebuild your health after an episode of burnout, take care to prevent it in the future. Keep your
- Cleveland Clinic. 2022. What Is Burnout?
- Boston University. 2022. Work Burnout Signs: What to Look for and What to Do about It.
- Applied Nursing Research. 2019. Auricular acupressure reduces anxiety and burnout in behavioral healthcare.
- PLOS ONE. 2020. Acupuncture in persons with an increased stress level—Results from a randomized-controlled pilot trial.
- PLOS ONE. 2017. Physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies.
- HR World. 2022. From the Great Resignation to the Great Burnout, employers in Asia continue to grapple with shifting employee priorities.
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