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The Long Term Effects of Burnout

Since the pandemic, it’s seemed like nearly everyone has been racing to catch up for lost time and are now finding themselves exhausted and unable to focus. Over the last few months, one of the prevalent topics on the internet has been “burnout.”

What is “burnout,” though? For those unfamiliar with the term, burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress, often resulting from excessive work, demands, or pressure. The initial signs of burnout include fatigue, cynicism, and reduced efficiency. Other side effects include: 

  • Apathy

  • Irritability

  • Disengagement

  • Low Self-Esteem

Some might dismiss the effects of burnout as just being tired or as something everyone goes through. They think a relaxing weekend doing nothing can easily fix it. 

However, if you’re experiencing burnout for an extended period, it can eventually lead to decreased motivation, engagement, and performance. Commitments that were once something a person looked forward to become overwhelming. It can even develop into depression or anxiety. 

So, how do you combat burnout? Here are just a few ways to protect you and your loved ones from the effects of burnout. 

Prioritize Self-Care

The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself. So often, we prioritize things outside of our needs, like pleasing our parents or making sure we give our all during practice. However, if we don’t take the time to take care of what we actually need on a regular basis, we’ll quickly find ourselves tired and burned out. 

When we think of self-care, we might think of taking a relaxing bath at the end of a tough week or rewarding ourselves with a sweet treat now and then. It’s so much more than that, though. Self-care can include anything from practicing mindfulness and gratitude to setting boundaries with the people in your life. 

Check-in on what YOU need before you worry about everyone else. 

Communication and Support

You can only help yourself deal with burnout once you tell them. Communication is critical to finding the help and support you need when life overwhelms you. 

Identify two or three people you trust: a parent, a coach, or a friend. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and start to plan how they can hold you accountable for your mental health. You must be able to have an open dialogue with these people.

Together, identify how you can create a supportive environment where you feel comfortable talking about your struggles and finding time to rest and relax.

Goal Setting and Balance

No matter what level you might be in your sport, there always seems to be a massive weight of expectations hanging over an athlete’s shoulders. While massive goals can be a good motivation, they aren’t always healthy for our mental health, forcing us into a cycle of perfectionism and anxiety. 

Set realistic goals for your involvement in sports and try to diversify your interests outside of the sport. Having multiple interests will help you find balance in life. 

Relaxation Techniques

It’s vital for teen athletes and teens in general to learn relaxation techniques that can help them navigate the stresses of adult life in the future. 

As an athlete, practicing meditation, breathing, and mindfulness can improve your focus during practice and competition. It can also promote mental awareness, better decision-making, faster reaction times, and overall performance.

Seek Professional Help

If you feel like nothing you do is improving your mental/physical health and you continue to feel burnt out, seek professional help as soon as possible. Finding a psychologist or a counselor specializing in sports psychology could be the first step to helping with your burnout and identifying a more significant problem that’s gone undiagnosed. 

Overall, making yourself a priority, taking steps to decrease the stress in your life, and having a support system are all essential steps to addressing burnout. Seeking help is never a weakness. Instead, it takes strength and a powerful sense of self to know when something’s wrong. It takes even more strength to ask for help. 

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