BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Joel Gascoigne, the hardworking and driven founder of a successful startup says it was just when his career goals seemed to be on track that he hit an emotional brick wall. 

On his blog, Gascoigne explains what happened, saying, “This is how I’d describe my experience of burnout: I lost motivation. I just didn’t care. I knew I cared deeply, but I had nothing left.” 

I couldn’t get up in the morning. I felt very sensitive and emotional. It was like anything could set me off, and make me well up. I cried a lot, by myself and with people close to me.

Joel Gascoigne, on experiencing burnout

Gascoigne’s experience is not uncommon, as statistics indicate that more than half of all workers experience burnout.

Defining burnout

But, what exactly is burnout? And what can someone do if they think it’s affecting their life? 

Burnout is more than stress. It’s often marked by a feeling of never-ending stress, which elicit deep-seated hopelessness and apathy. 

According to Psychology Today, “Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Though it’s most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking, or romantic relationships.”

An IT worker named Joachim Haller from France shared his experience with burnout on Red Hat

Haller said he’d been fully dedicated to a demanding job in technical support, but was eventually let go. Shortly after losing his job, he experienced an unexpected panic attack. 

…as I watched the dogs play in the garden… Suddenly, I had ambulance staff around me. I was trying to breathe while crying and shaking, I had severe chest pain, and I thought my heart was going to pop out of my ears.

Joachim Haller, on his personal experience with a panic attack and burnout

After the panic attack, he realized he was suffering from burnout.

Haller says, “In the months that followed, I felt like I was not part of what was going on around me. Dazed and confused, I spent most of the time either resting or walking with the dogs. I couldn’t get my head in gear or engage in any functional activity. I would forget the simplest tasks and have the attitude of a passive bystander. You would get more conversation from a sack of potatoes than you would from me.”

How to heal

Both Haller and Gascoigne were able to navigate this difficult chapter of their lives with the help of family, friends, and therapy. 

In addition to relying on outside support, one of the first things each man did was allow themselves to take a break. 

Gascoigne says, “The first few days, I did nothing. I woke up late, I watched YouTube, I went climbing with a friend, I went on long walks. I don’t think it would have helped for me to make any bigger plans. And this is how it was for a few weeks. I started to exercise a lot, too, because I had all the time in the world. My spirits started to rise and I eventually did actually make some plans.”

According to WebMD and related sources, some of the practices that can help to ease the burden of burnout symptoms include:

Getting Enough Rest -Sleep is essential to physical and mental health. Find ways to prioritize getting enough sleep. 

Implement a relaxing activity into your weekly schedule -Holding on to stress in one’s body can lead to burnout. Relieving this tension through relaxing physical activities can be beneficial. Some people take up knitting, others go for quiet walks, and still others prefer yoga, meditation, or tai chi. 

Seek support -WebMD says, “Talking with trusted coworkers, friends, and family is an important way to share how you’re feeling and seek help. Their support can help you cope with the stressors of your job. Finding a therapist is also a great way to discuss your feelings and get support.”

Limit contact with negative people -According to helpguide.org, “Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you spend together.”

Join a community that has personal meaning to you -It can be beneficial to connect with a group that’s personally meaningful to you. For example, if you’re a writer, you might consider joining a local writing group. Or, if you enjoy cooking, you might sign up for a few local cooking courses. This can be an opportunity to relax and make new friends.

Though life can seem bleak when one is in the thick of a case of burnout, it is possible to heal. 

If you suspect you may be experiencing burnout, it can be helpful to reach out to your doctor for suggestions and take a look at reliable information on the subject, such as this article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.