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  • Writer's picturePauli

The 5 stages of burnout and how each stage manifests behaviourally and psychologically

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.

Burnout typically occurs when an individual experiences a high level of stress without adequate coping mechanisms or support.

The stages of burnout are not always experienced in a linear fashion and can overlap or occur simultaneously.

The five stages of burnout are:

Stage One: The Honeymoon Stage:

During this stage, individuals are highly motivated, enthusiastic, and committed to their work. They may feel a sense of excitement and fulfillment from their work.

Psychologically, they may experience a sense of purpose and engagement in their work. Behaviourally, they may work long hours, take on extra projects, and may struggle to maintain a work-life balance.

Stage Two - The Onset of Stress Stage:

During this stage, individuals begin to experience stress and frustration in their work. They may feel overwhelmed by the demands of their job or the lack of control they have over their workload. Psychologically, they may experience irritability, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness. Behaviourally, they may start to withdraw from colleagues, avoid certain tasks, or work longer hours to try and keep up.

Stage Three - Chronic Stress Stage:

During this stage, individuals are in a constant state of stress and feel exhausted, both physically and mentally. They may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Psychologically, they may experience feelings of depression, cynicism, and a lack of motivation. Behaviourally, they may start to make more mistakes, become less productive, and may experience conflicts with colleagues.

Stage Four - Burnout Stage:

During this stage, individuals have reached a point of complete exhaustion and may feel unable to continue working. Psychologically, they may experience a sense of detachment, emptiness, and apathy. They may feel as though their work is meaningless and that they are unable to make a difference. behaviourally, they may call in sick more frequently, avoid work-related responsibilities, and may feel emotionally numb.

Stage Five - Habitual Burnout Stage:

During this stage, burnout has become a habitual pattern of behaviour and individuals may feel trapped in their situation. They may have difficulty finding motivation or meaning in their work, and may feel as though they have no other options.

Psychologically, they may experience a sense of resignation and hopelessness. Behaviourally, they may become more isolated, cynical, and may start to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or overeating.

It's important to note that not everyone will experience every stage of burnout, and some individuals may experience burnout differently than others. Recognising the signs and symptoms of burnout early on can help you take steps to prevent or manage burnout.

If you would like to talk to me about any aspect of burnout prevention and recovery, please get in touch with me.


PS my breath mastery course for stress, anxiety and insomnia is available online to access anytime.

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