Are you suffering from burnout?
Burnout is described as a state of emotional, behavioural, and physical exhaustion. Due to prolonged stress caused by constant work and personal demands, burnout will decrease motivation and make you feel as though you have lost interest in your day-to-day activities.
During the pandemic, we saw a drastic change in how we socialised, worked, lived, and provided/received support to and from others. Staff shortages created an increase in workload, and working from home meant people were working longer hours and had less downtime. More people saw their mental health negatively impacted due to isolation, family bereavement, job losses, and reduced support.
As lockdown restrictions eased, and people began to go back to work, statistics showed that over three-quarters of UK workers had experienced burnout.
How might your work cause burnout?
If your job is overly demanding with unchallenging work, you’re never rewarded or recognised for the work you do, you’re constantly working in a high-pressure environment, and you feel you have no input or control over the work you do, you are more likely to suffer from burnout.
The HSE (Health and Safety Environment) identifies six main factors that could lead to excessive stress resulting in potential burnout at work:
- Demands: can you cope with the demands of your job?
- Control: Do you have a say about how you do your work?
- Support: Do you receive adequate information and support from colleagues and managers?
- Relationship with managers and colleagues: are you subjected to unacceptable behaviour e.g. bullying?
- Role: do you understand your role and responsibilities, how you fit in?
- Change: does the organisation engage you during organisational change?
Signs of burnout
Emotional signs of burnout:
- low confidence/feeling like a failure
- feeling detached from the world and those around you
- a sense of helplessness
- demotivated to complete daily tasks
- focus on the negative with most tasks
- feeling dissatisfied and unaccomplished
Behavioural signs of burnout:
- becoming short tempered with others
- feeling overwhelmed
- a sense of dread with most tasks
- becoming more withdrawn
- increase in procrastination
- an increase in food, alcohol or drug use as a coping mechanism
Physical signs of burnout:
- trouble sleeping being unable to relax the mind
- frequent headaches and muscle pain
- feeling run down and having a lower immunity
How to overcome burnout
It can be difficult to overcome the effects of burnout, and it can often feel like a never ending cycle. However, not all is lost, and there are several ways of beating burnout and feeling like yourself again.
You are allowed to say "no". If you are feeling overwhelmed, setting boundaries for yourself can improve mental well-being and reduce the risk of burnout.
If you are not getting enough sleep, look at changing your routine and setting time aside to wind down and relax.
Take a break from your routine and try something different that is not linked to work.
Set some time aside to disconnect from your phone, laptop, and other devices which might increase levels of burnout.
30 minutes of exercise per day increases the number of happy hormones released through the body. This boosts mental and physical wellbeing.
Practising mindfulness is a great way of refocusing thoughts and reducing burnout. The average person has 12,000 – 60,000 thoughts per day and we can choose which thoughts we focus on. When you are feeling negative, practise bringing yourself into the present and pay attention to your physical sensations, rather than the thoughts you are having.
A work life balance is important in helping overcome burnout. If you are unhappy in your job, look at the positive aspects of your life – whether this is your family, friends, hobbies. If you feel like you are constantly working, set aside time for yourself to do something for you.
Find value in what you do. You might feel negatively towards your job, but think about the role you do, and how it helps others.
You are important, and if you feel overwhelmed with work, and that burnout is inevitable, speak with your company. They have a duty of care for their staff.
Reaching out and speaking to others can sometimes feel quite daunting. You might feel like you are being a burden on someone else, but more often than not, loved ones and friends will be happy that you have reached out to them. This can build stronger connections between people and alleviate that feeling of burnout.
Doing something you enjoy or joining a support group is a great way of meeting new, like-minded people. It gives you the opportunity to share how you are feeling and listen to how others are feeling. By sharing experiences, it will help you find new ways of coping with burnout and stress.