The term burnout is often used in more general terms to describe being tired or having a sense of fatigue related to training. But burnout can be an actual syndrome when athletes feel little to no motivation and a sense of mental and physical exhaustion. Sometimes this is also called over-training syndrome. When feelings like this occur do not ignore them and make a plan. Factors that are associated with burnout and its symptoms in athletes include too much training for a particular person (we are all different in terms of handling load), an increase in emotional stress, and insufficient recovery time.
The symptoms of over-training in athletes can be divided into various categories:
A. Movement Coordination Symptoms
- Difficulties in the flow of movement and rhythm
- Difficulties with completing basic routines
B. Condition or Training Symptoms
- Reduced endurance power, speed, and strength
- The sense of fatigue compared with other times of same training schedule
- Diminished competitive qualities and a need for increased recovery time
- The sense of ongoing struggle to complete work-outs
- Increased resting heart rate
C. Psychological Symptoms
- Mental fatigue or fog
- Feeling of irritation
- The negative perception of feedback or criticism
- Mood changes with more low mood or depression
- Possible sleep problems with too much or too little
Training and competing for any sport is obviously time-consuming and exhausts both the mind and body. However, if balanced correctly, the training load can be better managed. Some very simple suggestions for avoiding burnout are listed below. Many of you will be familiar with them but it is always good to be reminded. Here is how you can prevent getting symptoms of burnout:
- Devise a Plan: With a coach or trainer to ensure a well-rounded schedule for both practice times and cross training with strength and conditioning.
- Hydration: Drink water. Water fuels and powers a lot of bodily functions such as healing the body tissues, muscles, and helps reduce the feeling of lethargy. Hydration also has a role in preventing illness.
- Rest, Recovery, and Sleep: Resting days are equally as important as training days. Many athletes make the mistake of overtraining and not following the coaching plan for a rest day or period. But time off is extremely vital. Rest days are non-negotiable in any serious training program. Sufficient rest and recovery help the body to heal and recover from the intense workouts. It also gives the body a chance to develop muscular gains. Additionally, proper sleep is imperative. Enough sleep helps to rejuvenate your mind and body in general. Again, muscles also need it as much as your mind. Sleep is part of this process overall and sometimes days off can aid one in having improved sleep.
- Nutrition: You have probably heard that your body is a machine which helps you finish training and competitions. Therefore, just like any other machine, your body needs to be fueled. Most serious athletes know about eating foods that are rich in whole ingredients (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins) provide some of the best fuel for your body. On the other hand, a diet rich in only junk meals will not help you with long-term results. Also, refuelling and re-energizing your body through appropriate snacking and adding needed calories at strategic times will help you avoid injury, fatigue, and burnout.
Symptoms of burnout can be painful and stressful. They may affect your performance and your overall health. The tips for avoiding burnout addressed in this article will help you stay healthy. Take charge of your body today and stay committed to the fundamental building blocks of sleep, hydration, recovery, cross-training, and nutrition.