Burnout is a state of mind, body, and spirit. Similar to depression, burnout produces observable ways of showing up that most of us ignore for far to long.
Emotional Exhaustion: Both burnout and depression can result in emotional exhaustion, where individuals feel drained, fatigued, and emotionally depleted. This can lead to a persistent lack of motivation and energy.
Slow Motion Productivity: In both conditions, there is often a decline in cognitive and physical performance. During both states of mind, it is a struggle to concentrate, make decisions, and complete tasks efficiently.
Negative Mood: Both burnout and depression can lead to persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in socializing or participating in activities that were once enjoyable or fulfilling.
Somatic Evidence: Both burnout and depression can cause physical symptoms like headaches, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite.
Emotional Evidence: Both conditions can lead to increased irritability, higher sensitivity to noise, and in general become easily frustrated with difficulty managing emotions.
While burnout and depression can look the same, they generally differ in specific ways:
Burnout can usually be tied to chronic stress, like many caregivers experience after burdens start to mount up. Burnout is often a reaction to overwhelming responsibilities and expectations for self.
Depression, on the other hand, can be attributed to genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors and may occur unrelated to stress or without a clear external stressor.
Burnout is typically relieved when the stressor is reduced or when self-care and coping strategies are embraced. Depression, in contrast, may persist even when external stressors are minimized, even when self-care strategies are in play.
At growURpotential, we guide our clients to be with self-care as a first step to differentiating between burnout and depression. Because bodies are unique, it is best to lean into the support of a medical provider when self-care is not correcting the somatic or emotional evidence of burnout.
Self-reflection will also help us take ownership of behaviors that can generate burnout or exacerbate depression. Here are some questions to ponder the next time you journal:
1. Do I neglect my own well-being while caring for others? Can I describe a time in the last two weeks when I said YES to something I did not have the energy to gift?
2. Do I exercise, plan a healthy diet for myself, and get adequate sleep? Do I take care of myself during the day, measure my intake of fluids, sugar, and take breaks to recharge?
2. Do I spend quality time with others, in activities that produce joy or feel good energy like game night or karaoke? Do I have a friendships that makes me feel seen, heard, and understood? Or do I secretly suffer from feeling isolated and alone in my thoughts?
3.Do I set achievable goals for myself and acknowledge my time and energy limitations? Do I say YES to more things than I can get done? Do I over schedule myself to avoid saying NO to requests from peers, supervisors, or loved ones?
4. Do I see my own issues with Time Management and put off the opportunity to create a partnership for accountability to grow new habits? Do I botch my schedules, resist delegation of tasks, or avoid technology that can help me save time?
5. Do I ask for help? Do I participate in conversations with peers or loved ones about the burdens of life? Do I acknowledge my struggles in a safe space?
6. Am I confident about my Mindfulness and Relaxation practices? Do I belong to a community of likeminded practicers who gather often? Do I believe that such a network improves resilience and life satisfaction? Do I have someone to explore this with?
7. Do I have proof that my hormones and glucose are in healthy ranges? Have I spoken with a healthcare professional about my somatic or emotional evidence of burnout?
When we are willing to be honest with ourselves, in writing, we can move toward the solutions we deserve. At growURpotential, we trust that our community members deserve support and we train mentors, therapists, health coaches, and doulas in the best ways to support tailored strategies to burnout, because one approach does not fit all. To learn more, schedule a consultation today!