The Five Stages of Burnout: Stage 3

Last week we covered Stages 1 and 2 of the 5 Stages of Burnout as presented by the American Institute for Preventative Medicine. Today we’re going to discuss Stage 3. This is a pivotal stage for burnout. When someone enters solidly into stage 3, they will deteriorate physically and psychologically.

Someone in Stage 3 is often described as having a “short fuse” or always on the edge of anger. So you may find yourself asking, “What’s Going on with Me?”

The critical factor in Stage 3 is the now-chronic nature of the mental or physical ailments resulting from the stress someone internalizes. Stage 3 burnout is commonly a stage where people seek support for depression.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of Stage 3 of Burnout:

  • Rather than thinking “I need a vacation” you may regularly think “I need a new job.”
  • Someone may be oversensitive to constructive criticism.
  • It may be difficult to avoid feelings of failure even with positive feedback.
  • Someone may have a difficult time falling or staying asleep.
  • Someone may find self care unfulfilling or a completely lacking.
  • Stress in Stage 3 burnout can cause weight gain or loss.
  • This stage can impact one’s personal life negatively.
  • Emotional stability is lacking.
  • Someone may still only blame others for negative feelings rather than evaluating the true cause and confronting the root issues for their stress.

In this stage, if you can’t stop the cycle, you’ll find yourself in an endless circle of frustration. Everything will take longer to complete, and you will likely make additional mistakes at work, which brings on criticism.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing an extended season of stress, it’s natural they will seek relief. There are many ways to reduce our stress. We can look for opportunities to delegate, ask for help, or acknowledge the challenge ahead of us. Unfortunately, those who are depressed or experiencing burnout aren’t always thinking clearly or strategically. As a result, someone may find themselves paralyzed in a cycle of exhaustion, unable to make the best decision as to how to move forward.

When someone cannot de-escalate from Stage 3 of Burnout, it’s important to encourage them to seek outside professional support. Next week we’ll discuss Burnout Stages 4 and 5.

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