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Are you at Risk of a Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

You may notice it is difficult to engage in activities you normally find meaningful.  You may no longer care about the things that are important to you or experience an increasing sense of hopelessness.

What are the main symptoms of burnout?

Behavioural symptoms

Reduced performance in your everyday tasks, procrastination and emotional outbursts can signal a burnout. You may withdraw and become more isolated. Using substances more excessively to cope, is another signal that your stress level is too high.

Physical symptoms

Headaches and digestion issues as well as fatigue and sleep problems are common. You may be ill more frequently and notice a change in your appetite.

Emotional symptoms

You may find decreasing satisfaction in your work or other activities and be lacking in motivation. You could notice an increased sense of failure or self-doubt and feel helpless or cynical. This may lead you to feel disconnected and alone in the world. Excessive worrying is another symptom and you can lose control over your emotions, such as crying or being angry without any clear reason.

What are the causes of burnout?

Burnout is not caused solely by stressful work environments or too many responsibilities.  It can be experienced by anyone with prolonged levels of chronic stress and pressure causing overwhelm as work and/ or home demands become too much to cope with.

The way we respond to stress is another important factor. In our society, it’s common for us to have a “keep going at all costs” mentality. This often means that we brush our stressful feelings under the carpet and just keep going. Many of us ignore the signals which are warning us that our stress level is increasing,

We postpone dealing with our stress, saying that when a certain project or event is over, then we will take time out. Often the “end” never comes and we never actually have the time to relax and reduce our stress level. We may feel that we have no control over the circumstances causing our stress.

The longer we ignore the signals, the more intense they get and the more energy we must use to prevent them from rising to the surface. This has a knock on, detrimental effect on our stress and well-being.

It seems as if we have a belief that our increasing stress level will take care of itself. We give it a low priority.

We may be hesitant to share our feelings with others. There can be a stigma around feelings of overwhelm or stress. We don’t want to be seen as weak. We then lose the healing quality that sharing can have, which is to realise that we are not the only one suffering after all. That others understand how we’re feeling.

Why burnout prevention is better than cure

Unfortunately, our stress level will not take care of itself as long as we don’t pay any conscious attention to it.

If we do experience a burnout, the consequences are mostly long-lasting and intense.

Recovering from burnout is a personal process, and the timeline can vary widely from several weeks, months, or even years. The longer you’ve experienced burnout, the more time it could take to recover.

According to a Forbes article, a joint study was carried out between the WHO and the International Labor Organization.

“The research team learned that each year 750,000 people die from overwork alone. Burnout can be catastrophic.

And this is the worst-case scenario. Many people who experience burnout can suffer long-term anxiety, depression, even PTSD. Some may develop chronic illnesses and gastrointestinal disease.”

Source: Forbes Interview with Jennifer Moss

There’s also a large cost to society, business and the economy.

Prevention is certainly better than cure!

Tips to prevent burnout

Calling The Cab

C=Conscious -Find a trigger during your working day such as going to the bathroom or waiting for the kettle to boil and ask, ‘How am I doing?’

A= Attention – Follow your breathing In and Out a few times. Feel yourself going from your head into your body

B= Body – Check how your body is doing. Do a quick body scan. Do you feel tension or pain anywhere? If so, breathe a few times into that place. Notice how you feel.

Notice what you need right now.

Daily Journaling what you’re grateful for

Journal three things you’re grateful for every day. This helps your mind to refocus from all the negative thoughts and acknowledge there are some positives in your life. Remember that energy flows where your attention goes.

Practice Mindfulness

Its important to become more conscious of your feelings and your thoughts. To do this, you should find some space to practice mindfulness. There are many breathing techniques and guided meditations to help you with this.

This helps you to create space to acknowledge your feelings and how your body is. By acknowledging and allowing what’s here in the present moment, it becomes conscious. Once you feel the intensity of your stress level, you can do the necessary practices to regulate your nervous system. These practices enable you to face your emotions, process them and move forward.

Try out my grounding meditation to help with this.

Finding professional help

Sharing your feelings and problems with someone who is a good listener, doesn’t judge you and gives you space to find your solutions can be really helpful. Experiencing that you are not alone and are understood helps to prevent you from disconnecting or withdrawing and helps you get a broader perspective

Work-Life Balance

Finding time to do things that you love and that make you happy on a regular basis helps you to regain a more balanced perspective on your life.

Take care that you’re getting some exercise and that you’re eating a healthy diet. A healthy body helps maintain a healthy mind.

Connect regularly with loved ones. A good social network reduces your stress.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

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