Let’s talk about how we can beat burnout. There’s no denying it, the past 12 months have been tough. Our lives have changed in ways we never thought possible; we miss our loved ones, our social lives are non-existent and the lack of routine is making many of us feel untethered and anxious. To make matters worse we’re still ploughing through the dregs of winter; it’s cold and dark and the promise of Spring still feels way off in the distance.
We’re trying to keep going but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the motivation to do anything, even the simplest task seems to require enormous effort. Does that sound familiar?
If so then there’s a high chance you may be suffering from ‘Burnout.’
What is burnout?
Burnout is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the feeling of having nothing left to give anymore, of feeling totally depleted. It’s caused by excessive and prolonged stress and can make you feel totally exhausted emotionally, physically and mentally.
Burnout makes us feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained. We lose interest in our hobbies, we struggle to achieve even the simplest of tasks and we feel tired and lethargic, no matter how much rest we get. Burnout can make us feel helpless which in turn can make us angry or resentful.
It can negatively affect our physical well-being, lowering the immune system and making us more susceptible to colds and viruses. It can affect our appetite; we might find we’re eating too much or too little, both of which have their own negative side effects.
The good news is there is hope.
Burnout can be prevented so it’s important that you familiarise yourself with the signs, symptoms and causes of it. It’s important you recognise when you might need to take a step back from certain situations or environments in order to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy.
If you’re in the throes of burnout, don’t worry; there are practical steps you can take and things you can do to help get yourself back on track.
But first, let’s explore the signs and symptoms of burnout.
Burnout can be characterised by the following symptoms:
- Feeling physically tired
- Changes to sleeping and eating habits
- Suffering from frequent headaches
- Lack of motivation
- Consumed by self-doubt and feeling like a failure
- Feeling alone and detached from the people closest to you
- Dissatisfied with aspects of your life
- Constantly feeling negative or cynical
- Feeling stuck or helpless in situations
- Abusing food, alcohol or substances in order to cope with negative feelings
- Isolating yourself from your friends and family
- Procrastination or taking a long time to complete even the simplest tasks
- Taking out your frustrations on others
- Becoming unreliable as your routine begins to slip
What Causes Burnout
Burnout can be caused by a variety of factors; it can stem from being overworked in your job or pushed to the end of your tether as a parent or a carer. You can feel burnt out if your life has changed drastically and you’re struggling to adapt to a new way of doing things. Or you might feel like you’re not supported or listened to or that your hard work is not appreciated. If you’re a high achiever who feels the need to be in control you might also experience burnout.
How To Beat Burnout
If you’re feeling burnt out or teetering on the edge the first thing to do is to recognise and accept how you’re feeling. As soon as you decide you don’t want to feel like this anymore or you’re worried you might be heading towards burnout you can employ methods and tactics that will help you cope with stress and negative feelings and beat burnout.
In the first instance, it’s important to seek help, either from the people close to you or from a medical professional. A problem shared is a problem halved and being able to offload your burdens can make you feel immediately better.
You’ll also find those around you can offer you new perspectives or advice that you may not have thought of before. They may be feeling the same way and together you can share ideas or check in with one another.
It is also important to recognise that individuals can contribute to burnout so make sure you limit interactions with toxic or negative people.
Back To Basics
Tip number two on how to beat burnout. Think about your life and all the different parts of it. Which bits are you unhappy with? Which parts would you like to give more time to? Burnout is a sign that an area in your life is not working as you would like it to be. This could be anything from your career to your personal relationships, but whatever the cause it’s important to think about what it is you really want from your life. What are your goals, hopes and ambitions? How does each area of your life match up to these? Once you get clear about what you really want from your life you’ll be able to see what people or behaviours aren’t supporting this, then it’s up to you to make plans to change this.
You will feel immediately better once you have a plan in place but it is also important that you set boundaries while you do this. Your time and energy is precious so it is important to clearly and firmly state to others what your boundaries are.
It is also important to connect with your creative side; find a new hobby or dedicate time to an old one. It can be anything that you find enjoyable or that helps you to switch off. It’s also a great way to meet new people through classes and groups which can help you cultivate positive areas of your life.
Taking Care Of Your Physical Body
The relationship between our mind and body shouldn’t be overlooked. When we’re suffering from burnout it is easy to neglect our physical health.
It’s important to make sure you’re eating well; nourish your body with nutrient-rich, home-cooked meals. Taking the time to prepare something delicious will give structure to your day and help you focus on something other than issues that may be stressing you out.
When you’re feeling burnt out, exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind; you might make the excuse that you don’t have the time or you’re too tired but moving your body is scientifically proven to make you feel better. When we exercise our bodies are flooded with feel-good endorphins which will brighten our moods and help us sleep better.
Sleep is another important area we need to make sure we’re getting enough of. Settle into a bedtime routine and make sure you stick to this. Late nights and sleeping in will only make you feel worse. Instead cut out all caffeine three hours before bed and turn off any electronic devices at least an hour before you hit the hay.
Hopefully this “how to beat burnout” article means you’ll be able to pull it back before it gets too bad but burnout is more common than you think and the chances are you’ll experience it more than once. Be kind to yourself, especially in strange and difficult circumstances, and remember that your mental and physical well being should always take priority.