How to Avoid Burn-out

Burn-out can have serious effects on your performance both in and out of the ring. Chronic stress begins a cycle that has both physical and mental symptoms and occurs when you don’t give your body a chance to recover fully between workouts. The best way to handle burn-out is to know its early signs.

Recognizing when burn-out is happening allows you to come up with an action plan. That way, you can stop stress in its tracks before it causes more serious health effects. You’ll find that you can improve the quality of your workouts so that you can continue to enjoy their benefits.

What Is Burn-out?

To fix a problem, you need to define it properly. The World Health Organization refers to a burn-out as a “state of vital exhaustion.” You may think that it’s something that only happens at work; while it does occur in the office, overdoing it at the gym can lead to the same condition with similar symptoms.

American psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger, first coined the term in 1974. He explained the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of burn-out. When you experience burn-out, you feel overwhelmed by issues you face as well as experiencing a loss of energy. Your dedication to your work and training lessens; it can affect everything you do.

What Causes Burn-out?

The causes of burn-out vary as much as the people who get it but it all boils down to stress. The triggers can include:

  • Not enough rest between workouts.

  • Exercising when you have other worries on your mind.

  • Pushing yourself past your limits.

  • Unrealistic expectations about your performance.

  • Other pressures outside of the gym.

  • Lack of a social support network.

  • Illness.

Often, it’s a perfect storm of many things. Some may not even know it’s happening—that is until the symptoms start spilling over into their everyday lives. Then, it creates a vicious circle of chronic stress. Your body will respond to it by releasing the hormone, cortisol.

Stress in small doses isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of our hard wiring for the fight-or-flight response and causes things such as:

  • Increased heart rate.

  • Faster breathing.

  • Increases in blood sugar.

  • Widening of blood vessels in the muscles.

When you’re in danger, these are good things. They’ll help you fight better or get away faster. It becomes a problem when it’s chronic because it will suppress the immune system too. It’s not hard to imagine how that could turn the tables on good health.

What Are the Symptoms of Burn-out?

Often, burn-out sneaks up on you. You may tune out the early signs as nothing more than a bad day. However, the longer it lasts, the more noticeable they will become. Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue.

  • Exhaustion.

  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping.

  • More frequent illnesses.

  • Loss of appetite.

They tend to gang up on you too. The lack of sleep will make you more vulnerable to getting sick and it may be harder to recover with the loss of appetite and fatigue.

How Burn-out Affects You Mentally

Unfortunately, burn-out causes other mental health issues too. Some may even consider these effects worse than the physical ones. Exhaustion is a factor from an emotional perspective. It can get under your skin in ways that don’t seem like they have anything to do with workouts.

Burn-out may leave you feeling cranky and irritable. You may feel detached from your work, family, and friends. Your self-esteem may take a hit too. You may find that you don’t enjoy activities that you once loved like the time you spend in the ring.

It has a similar pattern as the physical symptoms. You may start to question your performance which gets you upset. Then, you might begin skipping workouts. That worsens your feelings of self-worth. Fortunately, you can beat stress with a game plan.

The Importance of Rest

Getting enough rest is the single most important thing you can do to break the cycle. It’ll help by tackling the root of the problem, exhaustion. Remember, that’s the big driver of a lot of its symptoms.

Adequate rest will give your immune system a welcome boost. That’s because your body is in a state that’s the opposite of fight-or-flight. Everything slows down so that it can focus on repairing the damage. That, in turn, will reduce cortisol levels in your bloodstream.

The Best Ways to Manage Burn-out

Dutch watchmaker, Corrie ten Boom once said, “The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.” That wise advice applies to burn-out too. You need to know when something is broken so that you can fix it.

Know the Symptoms So That You Can Spot It.

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to fighting burn-out. Listen to your body for the subtle signs. Don’t forget to pay attention to how you interact with others and what’s happening with your self-talk.

Know Your Stress Triggers.

It’s essential to figure out what buttons get your heart racing and your mind seething. That is an important part of your game plan. It will give you focus.

Find Ways to Defuse These Triggers.

The next thing to do is to take away the power of the things that cause stress. Stop them in their tracks. If being late for a workout gets you mad, leave earlier. If the voice of that guy at the gym bugs you, wear earbuds to tune him out. Empower yourself.

Turn bad things into good ones. Create positive links between the triggers and your response. Remember that old saying about lemons? Use it to your advantage.

Take Regular Breaks.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of taking regular breaks. That advice applies to work as well as the gym. Your body needs time to recover between workouts so that it can repair any damage to muscle fibers.

You should use the same logic with your exercise session. It’s better to take those one or two-minute intervals between sets than to blow through them. Don’t forget that your body has a limited supply of available energy. If you use it up, leave the ring and rest. It’s okay to say “No.”

Finally, remember that burn-out is not a sign of weakness or laziness. It’s a plea from your body to slow down. Listen to what it’s telling you and step away from the messenger. Think of it as your personal stop button. Press and repeat.

It’s essential to recognize the symptoms of burn-out because it can have serious effects both mentally and physically. Burn-out can create a vicious cycle of mounting stress that can affect your performance in and out of the ring. The best remedy is self-care.

Find ways to stop burn-out when it’s occurring by replacing the triggers of stress with something positive. Giving yourself time to rest and regroup is the single best thing you can do for your body. Then, when you’re ready, book a training session and show the world what you’re made of.