First off, I want to define what burnout is before getting into burnout symptoms. Burnout is a direct effect from the stress and pressure of one’s work environment. This feeling can cause emotional exhaustion and mental exhaustion, having negative effects on relationships with loved ones and can be debilitating. Although burnout syndrome seems inevitable in some professions, it can be helped and even prevented with the right steps! But step one is being able to identify it in your partner, because they might not even realize they are experiencing it. Continue reading to learn how to help burnout if it is occurring in your significant other.
Law enforcement, veterans, and firefighters all have one thing in common, putting their life on the line. They are all extremely brave, but being brave doesn’t mean the job doesn’t affect them. Burnout syndrome is very common in these professions because of the “life and death” concept they deal with on a daily basis. The job burnout these professions experience can sneak up on them and before they know it, they are already burnt out.
Here are 5 Signs of Burnout in Your Partner
1. They are distancing themselves from you
If your partner was once very engaged in your relationship but is suddenly pulling back, this could be a sign of burnout. A once happy, humorous partner could suddenly turn into someone who doesn’t want to talk or engage with you like they used to. Burnout syndrome can cause a feeling of isolation and mental exhaustion, which in return can make your loved one isolate themselves without even realizing it. They might be having an internal battle in their head, which causes the isolation. They also might feel like you won’t understand what they are feeling or they don’t want to burden you. If this is happening in your relationship, keep an eye on them and make sure you are asking other family members, their friends, and a therapist for assistance in moving forward.
2. They are losing interest in hobbies
Hobbies keep us all sane and help bring some spice to our lives outside of work. If your significant other has been showing a lack of interest in the things they were once passionate about, definitely use this as a sign to investigate further. Losing interest could also be a sign of depressive symptoms which can stem from feelings of burnout. Depressive symptoms do not equate to diagnosable depression, but early intervention is key. Reaching out to a therapist to intervene can help prevent progression of these burnout symptoms.
3. They are avoidant of work
Work is rough for all of us, but just because we don’t want to go doesn’t mean we call out everyday. If your partner is consistently finding excuses not to go into work or is exhibiting signs of anxiety before work, this could be a sign of immense stress occurring while they are on the clock. In professions such as law enforcement, military, and firefighting it is literally life or death every day they put on their uniform, so it is only normal they could develop anxiety and feelings of burnout when it comes to work.
4. Consistent negativity
Is your partner recently having a negative outlook on everything going on? Where even the smallest inconvenience can be turned into something that ruins their mood? This is a common effect of burnout. Being in a work environment where the negative experiences outweigh the positive ones, it is easy for them to carry that negativity into different aspects of their lives. Work toxicity is like a virus that can affect all aspects of your partner’s life, early intervention can prevent further damage done to their outside life. Some people are pessimistic on their own, but you know your partner and what is normal, so an increased negative attitude can act as a warning sign for burnout.
5. Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
Although this is #5 on the list, it is the most important factor to look out for because it could definitely be the most dangerous. Occasional alcohol and drug use can be common in adults, but if your partner suddenly becomes a daily drinker or has increased their intake substantially, that is something to keep an eye on. Alcohol and drugs are often used as a coping mechanism to make feelings of sadness and stress go away, but it in fact does the opposite. Alcohol and drugs can in the moment diminish anxiety, but in the days after an increase in anxious and depressive symptoms can occur, which results in an endless cycle of substance use.
Now That You’ve Identified Burnout in Your Significant Other, What Is the next Step?
If your partner is experiencing burnout, seek help for them from a therapist! A therapist can assist your loved one in processing their stress in a healthy way before it develops into something more serious like; depression, anxiety, or even suicidal ideation. A therapist can also help you learn how to properly support your significant other so you can help them in their journey.