Why does it seem like you spend most of your time in bed, lying down and not doing much lately?
Are you someone who easily gets tired and doesn’t feel like doing anything?
Do you label this kind of behavior as mere laziness and nothing more?
There’s actually a lot of overlap between laziness and burnout that can make it difficult to differentiate between the two.
Burnout is a negative state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, caused by excessive stress and the inability to cope with it.
And as of 2010, a survey reported that approximately 75% of adults in the United States alone have experienced symptoms of burnout, with over 40% of cases being more severe.
Now, more than ever, it’s become imperative to educate and better understand the nature of burnout.
1. You feel disconnected from everything.
Are you going through the motions of every day as if on autopilot? Is there a persistent feeling of being detached from your own self?
If you’re suffering from burnout, one of the things you might be experiencing, but don’t quite realize or understand is depersonalization.
People experiencing depersonalization, most commonly those struggling with trauma, report feeling a strange sort of emotional numbness or emptiness as if they were watching life from outside of themselves.
They don’t feel like themselves anymore. They don’t feel engaged by anything. And they constantly struggle with the overwhelming sense of helplessness and inability to take back control of their lives.
2. You used to be Motivated.
Laziness is a character trait. And character traits tend to remain stable over time.
A lazy person doesn’t ever feel like exerting effort or applying themselves to things.
But if you used to be self-motivated and high achieving, often excelling in certain areas, and have only recently become exhausted, apathetic and unmotivated, then it’s more likely that you’re suffering from burnout and not laziness like most people would think. Number three, you used to be passionate.
A clear difference between someone who’s burnt out and someone who’s lazy is that the former used to have things they were passionate about, but may now be struggling to find interest or enjoyment in anymore.
Whether it’s a talent, a sport, or just your academic, or professional performance in general, burnout can make it hard for you to do the things you once loved or felt passionate about.
You might even come to hate or resent it because of how much you overworked yourself and pushed yourself to the brink because of it. Ouch.
3. You’ve become moody and irritable.
Do you suddenly find yourself snappy and easily irritated? Do you often feel emotionally out of control nowadays and don’t know why?
Moodiness and irritability are common, but often overlooked signs of burnout.
So if you start to have trouble controlling your emotions, especially when it never used to be a problem for you, this might be the reason why.
Lazy people on the other hand are a stark contrast to this because they’re often very relaxed, laid back, placid, and unaffected by things.
4. You’ve neglected your self-care.
One of the most distressing warning signs that someone may be emotionally and physically burnt out is if you start neglecting yourself care and socially withdraw from others.
There are concerning changes in your eating and/or sleeping patterns.
You stop making an effort to groom yourself or look good, and you tend to spend most of your time by yourself doing nothing because you’re so easily exhausted by even the simplest of tasks.
The difference between being burnt out and laziness are starkly in the fact that you weren’t always this way.
5. These changes happened gradually.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, something you should know about burnout is that it develops in stages.
So all of the points mentioned before; losing interest and motivation, especially in things we used to love, feeling detached from yourself and disconnected from everything around you, socially withdrawing, and neglecting your self-care, won’t just happen overnight.
Studies show that there are five major stages of burnout, each with increasing degrees of severity.
The honeymoon phase, the onset of stress, chronic stress, burnout, and habitual burnout.
Many people begin to experience symptoms as early as the second phase when there is still a moderate amount of stress, but optimism, interest, motivation, and performance, may already start declining.
And by the time you reach the fifth and final stage, burnout has already become so embedded in your life that the persistent mental and physical fatigue becomes more intense and harder to treat making you more vulnerable to developing depression and anxiety.
Spotting the signs of burnout early makes it all the easier for you to get help and recover from it.
That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about burnout instead of simply dismissing it as laziness like most people tend to do.
So if you are or anyone you know may be suffering from mental or emotional burnout, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health care professional today and talk to them about it.