By Bryan Kramer | Commentary

The 5 Stages of Burnout

According to a workplace burnout survey conducted by Deloitte, findings indicate that 77 percent of respondents say they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.

I experienced burnout too when I owned an agency with over 30 employees and had been traveling over 200 days a year speaking. To anyone looking at my life, they’d have thought that it was great. However, I had become overweight, been diagnosed with diabetes, and was always feeling burnout.

I worked hard to change everything and adopted processes that would allow me to start working on my business, not in it. Eventually, I succeeded in creating more time to spend with family and leading a healthier lifestyle.

I want this for others too, especially with so many struggling between altered work environments, balancing work-from-home expectations, and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

I put this article together to discuss the 5 stages of burnout, and some of the structures and processes you can incorporate into your business, so that you start working on it, not in it, to ensure you grow your business without experiencing burnout.

What Exactly is Burnout?

Burnout is not classified as a health condition by WHO. Rather, they say it’s an “occupational hazard”.

Burnout is a state of mind associated with chronic workplace stress which hasn’t been managed properly, and it can affect your work and life negatively, by affecting your mental, emotional and physical states.

Typically, one starts feeling burnout when they become overwhelmed at work and feel as if they can’t keep up with the rigors of their job.

The 5 Stages of Burnout

There is a very thin line between sacrificing your wellbeing for ‘success’, and diligently pursuing your goals to achieve success, and unfortunately, most of us fail to notice this sometimes.

In the beginning, burnout feels ‘just about right’, like you are headed in the right direction chasing your entrepreneurial goals. That’s exactly how I felt when I first started managing 30 employees and traveling over 200 days a year, speaking.

However, I soon realized I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I spent almost all my time working, and it drained me. Without realizing it, I was headed for rock bottom. But before I crashed, I went through the 5 stages of burnout.

I pull myself out with structure, process, and priorities. I talk about exactly how I created all of it in our free masterclass at the bottom of this page. But first, let’s focus on how to get you out of pre or existing burnout.

As per a recent study, here are the 5 stages:

1.) Honeymoon Phase

This phase is exactly like the honeymoon phase in a marriage and it is associated with high levels of commitment, energy, and optimism.

Whenever we start out on a new job or venture, it is common to experience high levels of satisfaction, and this promotes creativity and boosts productivity.

2.) The Onset of Stress Phase

The 2nd stage begins immediately after the honeymoon phase fades. You’ll begin experiencing stress; not every second of your day will be stressful. However, some days will be more difficult than others.

Your optimism will start waning, and you may start losing focus more easily. Eventually, this will affect you physically, and make it harder for you to sleep and enjoy activities outside work.

3.) Chronic Stress Phase

This stage is marked by a change in your stress levels and it will become chronic. This stress will mount pressure on you, and it will start affecting your work; you’ll start being late for work, missing deadlines, and you may even become withdrawn at work.

In extreme cases, you may become overly sensitive and easily irritable, and lash out at colleagues and even friends, putting a strain on your relationships.

4.) Burnout Phase

The symptoms become critical at stage 4 and continuing normally is no longer possible in this state, as it becomes increasingly difficult to cope with work-related problems which will consume you, and leave you feeling numb most of the time.

Your physical health may be affected at this stage, and you may experience chronic headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and persistent stomach upsets among other issues.

5.) Habitual Burnout Phase

In this stage, the symptoms of burnout become embedded in your life, and you’ll most likely experience continuous, emotional, physical, and mental problems, as opposed to occasional burnout.

You may develop anxiety and depression, and this might eventually cost you your job. You’ll only get to this stage if you don’t go for treatment on time.

Burnout Symptoms

The three main symptoms you should keep an eye out for are: exhaustion reduced personal performance and depersonalization.

Exhaustion: you’ll feel drained of all your energy, and become fatigued both physically and mentally.
Depersonalization: you become indifferent towards others; you may become numb and cynical sometimes.
Reduced personal performance: you feel like your work is insufficient and you’re not capable of performing it.

You may also experience physical, emotional, or behavioral symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

  • Always feeling tired
  • Insomnia
  • Waning appetite
  • Chronic Headaches

Emotional Symptoms

  • Lack of motivation
  • Loneliness
  • Overall dissatisfaction
  • Self-doubt

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Social isolation
  • Neglect of responsibility
  • Work-related anger outbursts

Recovering From a Burnout

It is possible to recover from burnout if you follow these steps carefully.

  1. For starters, you need to acknowledge to yourself that you’re actually experiencing burnout. This is the first step towards recovery.
  2. Next, you need to talk to your employer about the struggles you’re going through. They might suggest you take time off to reset, but even if they don’t, request a day or two to recharge.
  3. The same applies to those who are self-employed, take some time off work, to recharge their batteries. A vacation would probably be a nice idea.
  4. Before returning to work, find new ways and processes to cope with your work and establish a work-life balance, so that you have a healthier and happier work-life.
  5. Finally, it is important that you know your limitations at work and know when to say ‘no’ when you’re being assigned more work than you can handle. Also, part of knowing your limitations is coming up with a set work time schedule and committing to it.

Want to stay ahead of burnout?  Learn about the 3 Shifts You Can Make in Our Free MasterClass. 🙏

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