Burnout in Athletes: This is Who is at Risk

Burnout in Athletes: This is Who is at Risk

Those who seek perfection and don’t get enough rest can experience it.

The media is constantly presenting images of buff bodies, and promoting increased fitness in the general public. A  lot of people don’t get enough daily exercise, it’s true. The Cleveland Clinic estimates about 80% of adult Americans aren’t active enough.  Some people are prone to overdo it, however. Since the vast majority of messaging is geared towards those who need to get off the couch more often, it can be easy to neglect the signs of overactivity until it becomes a bigger problem. 

In this post, we’ll touch on how you can spot the signs of burnout in athletes and what to do about it. 

Burnout happens when athletes experience overwhelming physical and emotional exhaustion

Simply put, sometimes more isn’t better. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, burnout happens in athletes, (and those who exercise a lot), when you train or compete too much. This causes physical and emotional exhaustion, a loss of satisfaction in the sport, and reduced athletic achievement.  Burnout can cause injuries, and be dangerous for your overall health. 

People seeking perfection and high achievement are at risk

In order to excel at a sport, you often need to set high expectations. When a person gets riveted on seeking perfection, however, things can go awry. Burnout can happen in people who:

  • Neglect proper rest
  • Seek perfection
  • Always think more is better
  • Feel a high need to win
  • Are overly focused on the negative

Burnout can cause a person to abandon their sport, and have a ripple effect throughout their life. Being able to keep a perspective of lowering stress can help. If you or someone you know could be headed for burnout, time off to rest is essential. This can be more than a day off here and there and could require longer time away from intense activity in order to provide the mind and body with enough time to heal. 

The signs of burnout include constant fatigue and a desire to quit

Burnout in athletes can manifest in both physical and emotional ways. Physical signs of burnout can include:

  • Raised resting heart rate
  • Low iron
  • Paused menstruation in females
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Constant fatigue, even after sleep
  • Decreased energy
  • Increased injuries 
  • Increased illness
  • Inconsistent performance

Some of the emotional signs of burnout can include:

  • A desire to quit
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • An inability to focus
  • Frequent absences
  • Decreased confidence
  • Feeling depressed
  • No longer taking joy in your sport
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Apathy

If you suspect you are a victim of burnout, talk to a coach about changing what you are doing. It can also be wise to connect with a psychologist to get in touch with why you are burning out and what patterns of thinking led you to this spot. Getting help will lead to change. 

For more on burnout in sport, click here

photo credits:  Inside Creative House/Shutterstock.com

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