Feeling exhausted due to long work hours and high levels of stress? Read more to find out how to conquer burnout by recognising the signs and the best methods to manage the consequence of our ever-busy lives.
Society now consists of consistently busy people, with more responsibilities and pressure than ever, with actions come consequences, and with busy lives, comes burnout. Burnout is the result of our minds and bodies paying the price of such fast-paced lives.
Up to 54% of working people have dealt with burnout in the past or are still struggling with it today, which calls for more information on how to tackle this issue. However, it is worth noting that burnout is not as straightforward as it sounds, and if you are struggling, it is always best to seek help from a medical professional.
Burnout causes overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of detachment from your work, as well as a constant lack of accomplishment. Dr Christina Maslach developed the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which is a ‘psychological assessment instrument comprising 22 symptom items pertaining to occupational burnout’, in other words, Dr Maslach has created a way of easily recognising the symptoms of burnout. The MBI divides the symptoms of burnout into 3 different types: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. To put things a little simpler, the stressed employee would be the person to attend an end of week event a little frazzled and flustered, but the employee with burnout would fail to even show up.
If you’re feeling a loss of motivation and no relief, no matter your energy levels, you may be experiencing burnout. Don’t be fooled by the attitude that only jobs such as healthcare professionals deal with burnout, the society we live in today means burnout affects everyone, hence the importance of being able to spot the signs.
The tell-tale signs of burnout
Physical and emotional exhaustion and chronic fatigue
Are you constantly tired, no matter how much sleep you get? Depression and burnout are very alike and such as, share the same traits. If you struggle with burnout but don’t seek a way of treating it, it could lead to chronic depression. To distinguish between normal fatigue and burnout fatigue, it’s worth noting if you’re tired after having more than enough sleep, you take longer than usual to get ready due to a lack of motivation and finally feeling dread when thinking of the next day. Not only does this type of fatigue play a big role in your mind, but it can even cause susceptibility to cold and flu, so, once more, it’s worth understanding the symptoms and learning how to treat them.
Doubt and detachment
Let’s be honest, loving your job every day is not the most realistic mindset. However, if your mindset is constantly wondering how to escape work or projects and nothing about your job fills you with passion as it once did, it’s safe to say that burnout may be the cause of this. This aspect of burnout could lead you to feel isolated, less patient/eagerly angered and you may find yourself ditching events you originally were looking forward to.
Lack of accomplishment
Burnout will eventually get to a level where you will find it hard to feel accomplished and you will find yourself seriously downgrading your value. Feeling overwhelmed to a point of desperation and struggling to connect with your daily tasks is a tell-tale sign you are in fact burnt out. Progress is something everyone in the world of work relies on when it comes to motivation, but burnout will zap all of this out of you so that no matter what you do to motivate yourself, it comes to no avail.
Relighting the fire
Now that we have established the common signs and symptoms of burnout, let’s get that fire back and conquer burnout once and for all. Burnout causes so much destruction in our lives, whether that be mentally or physically, but with the right tools, we can reverse its effects.
Below are some of the easiest strategies that can help you alleviate the burden of burnout.
Reduce unnecessary stresses
Burnout is caused by poor management of our stress, so it’s vital that we check in with ourselves and understand the common issues that cause us stress and whether we can eliminate or reduce these. We’ve been conditioned to believe that the only way to get things done is to be super busy all the time, Rescue Time call this the busyness paradox. You can address this paradox by simply identifying when your tasks are unrealistic, you have frequent scheduling conflicts and even dealing with difficult customers can pull us into an unhealthy mindset. It’s vital that if your daily work schedule encounters any of these problems, that you speak to your manager and explain the effect this is having on you. Always remember that if you have attempted to speak to someone about your problems at work and nothing is resolved, it’s a large sign that your work environment is the source of your burnout.
#Top Tip - try categorising your work into ‘deep work’ and ‘shallow work’ and plan your day out strategically so that you have enough time to focus on your most important work of the day.
Time to take back control
If you ask most people if there are enough hours in the day, most of them will likely say no. That’s why understanding your time and the best way to use it is useful in avoiding burnout. With burnout aggressors like unrealistic deadlines and time pressures, it’s hard to find the time to focus on work that matters. Taking back control of your time is essential in avoiding burnout. Setting an action plan with your goal of the day is a great way to do this. Decide on one or two things you wish to accomplish that day, such as spending two hours on one job, with no distractions, and track yourself doing so. You’ll often find that this allows you to take back time that usually runs away from you when you have multiple things going on and that you’ll be more motivated to do other things and find it works as a domino effect for avoiding feeling burnt out.
Structure your day
You may think that heavily structured days lead to feeling burnt out, but it actually has the opposite effect. Adding a structure to your day eliminates decision fatigue and feeling overwhelmed.
If you’ve already taken back control of your time, you will have a good idea of your ideal day and what works best for you. Scheduling your day as your ideal day will bring big benefits and more importantly steer away burnout.
Scheduling breaks is also important so that you can take time to process your feelings throughout the day and alleviate mental fatigue.
Wind-down from the day’s events
Avoiding burnout doesn’t just stop at work. As most of us know, it’s important to look after ourselves at home too. That’s why creating a wind-down ritual is hugely beneficial to your routine and allows you to halt burnout in its tracks by not allowing it to filter into your home life.
Sleep and rest are so essential to our general mental well-being that it’s easy for burnout to creep in should you lose track of a good routine. A wind-down routine tells your mind that work is left at work and allows you to relax and recuperate for the next day.
Your wind-down routine may include:
Removing all devices used at work and replacing these with a book or magazine
Spending time on your own to relax and recover
Find a hobby that can challenge you separately to work
Writing all your thoughts and worries and leaving them on paper, allowing your brain to process them easier.
#Top tip - Try extending the length of your wind-down routine, should you feel you’re still too exhausted the next day or can’t sleep at night.
Create a support network
It’s nothing new that using the people around you can help to off-load your stresses, but not all of this find it easy. A support network allows you to connect with other people and share your problems. However, not everyone’s support system is their close family or friends, often work colleagues can help more, as they completely understand how you feel as they experience very similar workdays to you.
Surrounding yourself with the right people is essential to helping you balance work and home and can inhibit feelings of burnout.
Burnout isn’t forever
If you’ve experienced burnout at any point in your life, it can feel unconquerable, but it’s not forever, it can be resolved. Recognising the common symptoms and how it works its way into your mindset is a positive step in the right direction to overcome it once and for all.
Learning the correct tools to reverse or halt burnout in its tracks, as mentioned in this article, will highly benefit your work-life balance and your overall mental health, as well as ultimately kerb burnout altogether.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog and found our tips helpful. We share a lot of mental health and burnout content on our social media pages, so check them out. Read more of our blogs on topics such as imposter syndrome here