The Connection between ADHD & Burnout
Before anything else, let's define ADHD and its symptoms and how it relates to burnout. It's important first to understand these two different concepts to be fully aware of their connection.
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodivergent disorder wherein individuals affected by it might have difficulties to focus, being hyperactive, or easily distracted. There are other ADHD symptoms that you may experience, but these three are some of the most common things that adults struggle with.
On the other hand, burnout is a term that is defined as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress or fatigue. The World Health Organization specifically points out chronic and unmanaged workplace stress as the cause of burnout.
Burnout can also be defined as not having enough motivation to do anything. This might be caused by several factors, including but not limited to, heavy workload or responsibility, lack of energy, and frustration or dissatisfaction at work.
Some symptoms of adult ADHD might have a direct cause for someone to experience burnout. For example, people with ADHD may have difficulty focusing on their work, making them less productive and more stressed out. They may also be more easily distracted and find it hard to keep up with deadlines, which can lead to feelings of frustration.
When ADHD Symptoms Lead to Burnout
There are moments in our lives when we always wonder why other people seem to easily do something that we find difficult. Why can some people focus on a single task and be done with it in no time, while others like us have difficulty concentrating and taking our time to finish something?
This is because our brain is wired differently than the rest. An ADHD Brain may continuously produce countless ideas and information that can affect the tasks that we are presently doing. The distraction brought to us by our raging thoughts can sometimes cause us difficulty focusing. This is where the ADHD struggle on burnout begins.
The Pressure We Put on Ourselves
Because of our desire to successfully finish tasks assigned to us, we tend to put ourselves under a lot of pressure. We tend to think that we should do things the "normal" way, so we put a lot of stress on ourselves. There are also possibilities for us to look unto others' progress and be affected by it in a negative way, feeling even more anxiety and other stressful emotions.
Burnout can occur when we feel like we have done everything but still show the same outcome or our progress is sometimes not recognized. The amount of pressure we put into our ADHD brains while we do these tasks can lead us to exhaustion and fatigue, thus, entailing burnout.
The Perception of Laziness of People with ADHD
I had my fair share of this experience. I sometimes get too occupied that being idle and not doing anything might be mistaken or judged as slacking off or just being lazy. It's just that sometimes, we lack the urge to do a particular task, not because we don't want to, but we don't have the proper motivation to do them.
And having this mindset, I tend to spend time forcing myself to do things beyond what is needed and even beyond what's expected, putting a lot of stress on myself just to do like "most people". There are times that I forget to take a break to feel the guilt of being tagged as a lazy person. I realized that the potential of having burnout while doing this is very critical. The amount of energy we force into doing something will affect us and our mental health.
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How To Prevent ADHD Burnout?
Having burnout can be avoided, even in people with ADHD. Having this condition doesn't necessarily equate to having burnouts. These instances can be prevented if we can adequately assess our condition. Here are some tips that might help you prevent burnout:
You Cannot Do Everything
Accept that you cannot do everything, especially all at once. The pressure will build up, and the motivation to do these tasks will affect our minds and make us feel that we aren't in control. Taking time to talk to your team about your job can be very helpful to cope with burnout at work.
Learn How to Relax
Find ways on how to relax your brain. We all know that ADHD & Relaxation don't go well side by side because of our hyperactive thoughts. But we can manage them properly and think of ideas of self care to manage our symptoms. Look for relaxing activities, like watching your favorite anime, practice deep breathing or taking a brief walk in the park. When you finally understand ADHD you will realize that it's not impossible to take time for yourself without the urge to feel guilty.
Take Breaks When You Need
Don't be afraid to take breaks. Everybody needs to rest, and so do you. It's normal to feel stressed and tired, so don't overwork yourself. Instead, allow a significant period of your time for self care, resting, and having a break to avoid ADHD fatigue.
Be Mindful of the Pressure
Pressure is sometimes tricky. Sometimes, our most challenging enemy in life is our ADHD brain. Struggling with overthinking and pressures brought by our brain can lead us to a state of burnout and extreme anxiety. It's easy to say to avoid doing these things but try as hard as you can to take your mind off them.
Accept Your Own Path
You have your path at your own time. Did you know that having ADHD can sometimes produce a non-conventional and creative brain? It is essential to know that even though you may have an ADHD brain, you can still build greatness in your life and do wonderful results in your style. So, don't lose hope and try not to get too frustrated when things don't go your way.
Seek Help and Support
Seek help and reach out to people who you trust. Lastly, when things aren't controllable, when stress and exhaustion are just too much to handle, and there are still no signs of better days ahead, it's time to bring out the supporting roles and seek professional help. They will be able to listen to you, offer emotional support, and if you need it, learn about treatment options like medication.
Talk to Your Loved Ones
Talking to your friends and family can also be very helpful. Sometimes, all we need is someone who can support us and listen to us while we let go of our intense feelings or someone who'll give us that extra boost of confidence to get us back on our feet and regain our self worth.
Remember that all of us aren't exempted from feeling burnt out. We have to know how to handle our stress as effectively as we can and enjoy life at the same time.
ADHD Burnout: Ask Help from a Mental Health Professional
If you feel like your life is getting very stressful, you feel often exhausted, you struggle with sleep, shame, and taking care of yourself, it's ok to ask for help from a mental health professional. Getting the right support can help prevent burnout! A therapist could provide medical advice to you, and could even talk to you about treatment and medication. Getting a proper diagnosis could also help you recognize your struggles, and get the adjustments you need at your workplace to help manage your workload and setting boundaries to avoid relapses.
ADHD and Burnout: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are the symptoms of ADHD and burnout?
The symptoms of ADHD and burnout can be very similar. People with ADHD may experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and feeling overwhelmed. People experiencing burnout may also feel fatigued, stressed, and overwhelmed. There may also be physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, or feeling tense.
How can I tell if I have ADHD or burnout?
It can be challenging to tell the difference between ADHD and burnout. If you are experiencing fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and feeling overwhelmed, it is possible that you have ADHD, that you experience burnout or even both. The best way to know for sure is to consult a mental health professional.
What are the causes of ADHD and burnout?
Most scientists think that ADHD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Burnout is often caused by work-related stressors such as long hours, unrealistic deadlines, and excessive demands. It can also be caused by personal stressors such as caring for a sick relative or going through a divorce.