Dealing with Burnout
Burnout is fast becoming a big problem in all areas of life, whether it’s down to work stresses, family life, the pressure you apply to yourself to constantly be ok or a combination of all these things; if your overall day to day leaves you:
- feeling helpless,
- and completely exhausted
then burnout is already with you or certainly on its way to rearing its head.
What is burnout?
Exhaustion; whether this be emotional, physical, or mental exhaustion they are all caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
If you feel overwhelmed most of the time, small things seem like a huge obstacle or you feel criticised when unable to meet the demands placed on you, then burnout is already present and likely been happening for a number of months. If the pressures and stress persist and there isn’t any let-up then you can start to experience feeling demotivate and uninterested in life and simple pleasures.
You’ll lose your get-up-and-go, feel lethargic and less able to make an effort to look after yourself. As this cycle continues there will be changes in your outlook and you’ll see life through negative eyes, adopting a cynical, hopeless and resentful lens with which to see the world.
It often generates an emptiness and a sense of there being nothing left to give to anybody or anything, including friends, family and work. It begins to take a toll on your physical health too; as your self-care declines then the immune system suffers and your will be more prone to flu, colds, coughs etc.
You may be on the road to burnout if:
- Every day feels like a bad day.
- Caring about anything seems pointless.
- You’re exhausted all the time.
- The day is full of trivial and mundane tasks; you lack any buzz about anything you do.
- Overwhelm is always present each day, and you
- Feel underappreciated.
Symptoms of burnout
Burnout is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight but there will be red flags that you aren’t paying attention to, such as:
- Being frequently ill,
- Frequent headaches or muscle pain,
- Poor sleep/ increased sleep,
- Poor appetite/ increased appetite,
- Doubting yourself/ abilities,
- Inner critic about everything you do,
- A sense of helplessness and feeling defeated,
- Isolation or a sense of vulnerability,
- No motivation,
- Expecting the worst to happen,
- No ambition or satisfaction,
- Less drive to do hobbies that you once enjoyed,
- Passing responsibility to others,
- Withdrawing from your social groups,
- Abuse of drink, drugs or food as coping strategies,
- Increased temper or quick to anger,
- Taking more sick leave than normal, and
- Not caring about the quality of your outputs any more
Stress versus burnout:
Stress is demands placed upon you that may have become too many or too big to handle.
Burnout is caused by persistent and enduring stress build-up, coupled by a lack of hope that things will change or improve.
Work-related causes of burnout:
- Lacking control over your work,
- No recognition or reward for good work,
- Unclear or overly demanding job expectations,
- Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging,
- Chaotic or high-pressure environment,
- Poor work/life balance,
- A lack of support and direction,
- Taking on too many responsibilities,
- Not asking for help,
- Not getting enough sleep,
- Pessimistic views,
- Seeking control,
- High-achieving, desire to fulfil ambitions regardless of the costs
How to deal with burnout:
Ask for help and admit it’s too much for one person alone.
Ask to be listened to, rather than being advised or seeking problem solving guidance; just being heard in the first instance can allow you to hear yourself out loud and make your own mind up on what sounds realistic and what may actually not be that big a problem at all once you connect to it.
Seek people who you know can listen; telling the joker of the friendship group is unlikely to illicit the kind of empathy and support you need; seek out a non-judgemental ear.
Seek refuge in day to day life by re-introducing calm and stability back; if you were an avid jogger 6 months ago but haven’t even been round the block in that time then the chances are even 10 minutes outside will bring a much-needed break to a busy mind.
Be more sociable; engaging in friendships can be very rewarding for the mind as a chance for time-out. Limit your contact with negative people, prioritise those who have happy vibes. It can also be very rewarding to find new friends as you may have outgrown certain friendships over the years.
Take breaks, make the most of 10 minutes here and there and make an effort to go out at lunch rather than staying in.
Reframe the way you look at life; what provides you with joy, what is a main source of stress; how can you increase happy activities and balance the stress in your life to something more manageable. Look for the value life provides you with, if you don’t feel valued in at least one part of your life then something needs to change in order to help with your self-esteem and life purpose; look for meaning and satisfaction.
Take annual leave! It’s there to help you recharge and where ever possible, re-evaluate your priorities to see what really needs attention and what can wait.
Finally, learn to say no, so that you can say yes to the things that matter to you.
If you’re finding tackling burnout a difficult process and you’ll like help with any aspects of this blog then please do make an appointment for a counselling session by clicking here.