Burnout Symptoms

Just a list of weird things that have happened to me while dealing with this.

October 11, 2018Filed under Blog#burnout#exercise#healthMarkdown source

Some of the symptoms I’ve had while experiencing burnout, all of which are exceedingly unusual in life for me normally:

  • aches and pains:
    • headaches: from low-level and relatively minor, to shooting pain in the temples or behind the eyes
    • backaches and neckaches: unrelieved (and unrelievable, no matter the Pilates routine) sensations of muscle tension, including everything from the lower back to the base of my skull—likely a partial cause of the low-level headaches
    • stomachaches: so far, only when feeling exceptionally stressed, but regularly and often when feeling particularly stressed
    • occasional pains in my limbs unrelated to exercise I’ve done
  • fatigue:
    • I only sleep 7–7½ hours of sleep a night but now am needing 8½–9 hours to feel even somewhat rested
    • decreased ability while exercising: though I have kept exercising anyway, my general athletic performance is much degraded and on a semi-regular basis I’m unable to complete workouts normally
  • cynicism: finding it difficult to think the best of decisions others make, even when I can explain them in rational and reasonable ways

  • severe demotivation: having difficulty getting to work and through work; and having a hard time doing any of my normal side projects. The only hobby which has felt doable for most of the last few months has been writing on and working on this website.

  • crying, of all sorts:
    • streams of silent tears: not in the “I have something in my eye” sense but in the “I have tears streaming down my face” sense—but with no trigger
    • quietly sobbing, with or without any trigger—but never triggers that would ordinarily prompt much of a reaction at all, much less crying
    • outright weeping, to date only with a trigger—but again, with triggers of the sort that would normally just make me roll my eyes
  • anger: seething frustration boiling over into white-hot rage or cold furies—not things I am prone to, and often over the smallest provocations from work. (Never from family! This is one of the clearest signals that I’m dealing with burnout.) I carefully contain these, effectively practicing various ways of calming myself—especially prayer, recitation of Scripture, and singing hymns—and I never allow myself to lash out at the people around me. It is nonetheless strange and disconcerting to have minor nuisances provoke such deep anger.

  • cravings:
    • for sugary foods: occasionally sated with a good chocolate chip cookie, but more usually with a good piece of fruit
    • for alcohol: always set aside when I feel a “need” for it, lest it become a crutch or a means of self-medication

Burnout is strange. Our bodies and minds tell us the story of the stresses we experience, whether we want to hear the story or not. (I’m listening clearly, and making lots of moves to deal with it. More on that in the weeks ahead.)