BOISE, Idaho — It’s been a long year and if you’re feeling a sense of overwhelming stress, you’re not alone.
A lot of Idahoans are starting to transition back into the workplace while others continue working from home trying to find a balance between work life and home life. But how can you tell if what you’re feeling is typical stress, or something more serious?
Burnout is characterized as mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to stress. It can be one or a combination of all three.
“It’s not something that happens overnight but rather something that creeps up on you,” Regence Behavioral Health Director Dr. Hossam Mahmoud said.
Symptoms can look different for different people.
“Physically it can look like overeating, under-eating, oversleeping, under-sleeping,” St. Luke’s licensed clinical social worker Alison Burpee said. “It can look like fatigue, difficulties in engaging; just that fog of trouble concentrating, trouble prioritizing, feeling like we are being very passive in our own lives.”
Whether it’s demands of work, family, or lack of sleep or exercise contributing to burnout, Mahmoud said as long as those factors persist, it’s unlikely to go away on its own.
“It can lead to other chronic mental health disorders like major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, etc.,” Burpee said.
“It can also compromise physical health as well with significant muscle tension, headaches, dizziness at times,” Mahmoud said. “It’s been recognized as a risk factor for developing high blood pressure and other conditions like diabetes.”
Here are some things to look for in yourself or a loved one: constantly feeling overwhelmed, approaching tasks with negativity or cynicism, and feeling a sense of numbness or detachment.
“This feeling of balls flying past us left and right and really struggling to catch them,” Burpee said.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it may be time to reach out for professional help.
The Department of Health and Welfare offers a hotline to help connect Idahoans with available resources (986-867-1073) and most insurance plans will cover treatment.
“There’s just as much empowerment in sharing a struggle oftentimes than the feedback we get back,” Burpee said.
For those still working from home, there are some tangible ways to create boundaries.
Focus on work in a particular area of your home, like an office, when possible. At the end of the day, leave the room, shut the door, and don’t go back in until you start work the next day.
You can also outline segments of the day, like in the evening or during meals, when you set your phone down, stay away from your email, and focus on family.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed during the day, don’t underestimate the power of a few minutes of mindfulness, or five minutes of fresh air.