In today’s fast-paced, high-pressure world, it’s no surprise that burnout has become an all-too-common concern. The relentless demands of work, personal life can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being.
Burnout isn’t just about feeling tired or stressed; it’s a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by a sense of cynicism and detachment from work and life in general. But recognizing the signs of burnout and understanding how to deal with them is the first step toward getting back on track.
Let’s take a deep dive into the indicators of burnout and outline some strategies to consider to combat it through self-discovery, resilience, and renewal, as well as signposting a path to recovery.
What is Burnout?
Stress is one thing, burnout is another. According to the NHS, burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when someone feels emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and unable to meet regular demands as our bodies are being constantly flooded with adrenaline. It should be no surprise that our bodies are not designed to operate in this way and if we experience too much stress over a sustained period, it can result in ill-health and burnout.
American psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger coined the term ‘burnout’ in the 1970s to describe stress associated with the ‘helping’ professions. However, burnout can indeed impact any individual within any industry.
Burnout is now categorised as a modern-day health epidemic by the World Health Organisation and the fallout can have a significant impact on the individual, the workplace as well as our overall economy.
Thirty years ago, most people finished their day’s work and that was that, however, these days the ability to work 24-7 can become an issue if you don’t install some boundaries and let work life creep into your downtime. For some, this means they never truly relax.
While a small amount of stress can add urgency or motivation, burnout results from the continued discrepancy between the perceived demands vs. the perceived ability to manage.
It is important to remember that not all stress is bad but long-term stress can harm your health. It is key to identify and manage stress before it becomes burnout.
What are the Signs of Burnout?
Burnout can impact your behaviour, emotions and your psychologically. Signs to watch out for include:
Physical and Behavioural:
- Muscle tension
- Shallow/fast breathing
- Poor concentration
- Increased smoking/alcohol/caffeine
Emotional and Psychological:
- Sense of self-doubt or failure
- Decreased satisfaction
- Feeling withdrawn or isolated from others
- Lack of motivation
- Negative thoughts
- Feeling tired or drained
- Feeling helpless, defeated, or trapped
- Forgetful/lack of focus/confused
- Feeling overwhelmed
You’ll notice many of these symptoms could also relate to other illnesses, conditions, or mental health issues, which is why it’s important to always consult your GP if you ever experience any of these symptoms consistently.
Tips on How to Deal with Burnout
Assess Your Stress
You may feel able to do this independently or you could ask a colleague, manager, friend, or partner to explore this with you. It is important to try and identify your stressors and it can be beneficial to bouncer around ideas to gain a new perspective on combating or coping with stress.
Simply, review the areas in your life and working life that feel overwhelming. Are there any aspects you can adjust or change right away? Are there positive behaviours you can easily adopt?
Make your wellbeing your biggest priority. Start by making a list of all the things that bring you joy and build them into your week. Include things that are also good for you such as a walk in nature, time with friends, yoga, dancing, cycling etc. Setting clear boundaries and guarding your self-care routine fiercely is key to helping you unwind the impact of stress.
Adopt Lifestyle Changes
Simple acts like preparing nourishing foods, staying hydrated and eating less refined sugars or processed foods can help combat the physical symptoms of stress.
Practise gratitude – it might sound a bit cliché, but acknowledging things you’re grateful for has been proven to really help adjust mindset.
Be active, exercise, practise mindfulness, sleep well, unplug yourself from unhelpful sources – if social media isn’t making you feel good, it might be time to ditch it.
Seek Extra Support
If you’re very stressed, on the verge of burnout, or even experiencing burnout right now, then implementing change might be feel overwhelmed, making any of the above suggestions feel impossible. If this is the case, your first port of call should be to contact your GP who can discuss any support they may be able to provide or signpost you to additional physical or mental health services.
If work is a source of stress resulting in burnout, evaluating your work-life balance might be beneficial. Start by speaking with your manager, and working out a way to balance your workload so that it doesn’t creep into your downtime.
Additional steps could include speaking to a counsellor or a life coach or executive coach, who will be experienced in supporting people in making lifestyle changes. Coaches and counsellors can also help you realise your full potential, support your wellbeing, and allow you to achieve a better work-life balance.
Burnout is a serious issue, and recognising its signs is the first step towards healing.
In a world where the pursuit of success often seems relentless, it’s crucial to remember that your well-being should never be a secondary consideration. Burnout is not an inevitable outcome of our fast-paced lives.
Armed with this knowledge, you can take action to combat burnout. The path to recovery is an empowering one, filled with resilience and self-compassion. It’s not just about surviving; it’s about thriving. It is time to take those first steps towards better balance and well-being.
At Hartham Park, there are plenty of ways to practise a healthy work-life balance in order to prevent burnout, whether it’s heading out for a walk across the grounds or connecting with coworkers over a coffee in The Café.