With the current economic climate forcing many into working overtime or extra jobs, and constant 24/7 connectivity at our fingertips, it’s not surprising that cases of burnout are on the rise. In fact, almost half of all UK workers (43%) report feeling close to burnout.
But what exactly is burnout?
Kayleigh Frost, Head of Clinical at Health Assured, says “Burnout is the culmination of chronic, long-term stress, the point at which ultimately, we have no energy left to give. Our mental, emotional, and psychological resources are all dried up, and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and isolation ensue.
“A simple way to understand it is to imagine your mobile phone. When you keep using it, the battery will start to drain. Then, unless you give it time to recharge, it won’t work anymore.
“There’s no one specific cause for burnout. Job demands, high-pressure environments, neglecting one’s own needs (sleep, healthy diet, hydration), having too many responsibilities to juggle, or being in an emotionally demanding situation can lead to burnout.
“At its worst, burnout can leave us out of action for weeks, needing time to rest, recuperate and recover. And one of the trickiest things is that burnout tends to hit us like a brick wall. That’s why we need to try and stay attuned to our mental-emotional state and be aware if we’re struggling.
“Recognising the early signs of burnout makes it easier to address them. Signs of burnout can include feelings of emptiness, trouble sleeping, fatigue, becoming irritated easily, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, feeling a sense of failure or self-doubt, loss of motivation, isolating yourself from others, or headaches.
“The best cure for burnout is prevention. It can be hard to come back once you’ve hit the point of burnout, but these self-care methods should help you combat symptoms before it gets to that point.
Seek help: Try to resolve the situation by speaking to others. If it’s your job role that’s causing you stress, speak to your manager and see if there are any adjustments you can make. If it’s your home dynamic, try to open up and communicate how you’ve been feeling. Getting this off your chest can ease some tension. Set boundaries: You can only give to others when you take care of yourself first. Set boundaries for yourself, your work, and your relationships. Try not to take on too much and know that it is ok to say no. Ensure you have enough free time to do things for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes each day—it makes all the difference.Be creative: Try squeezing in a spot of creativity where you can. Partaking in activities like art, music, dance, and drama will help reduce stress levels. It could be doodling for ten minutes, dancing in the shower or listening to your favourite song.Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves bringing your attention to the present moment. When our attention is in the now, it takes away future worries. We can reframe our perspective and relax into what is happening now. It helps us to find more joy and gratitude even amid challenges. Normalise taking time to unplug: We live in a fast-paced world, and it can often feel like we’re running on a hamster wheel. Technology connects us, but it also creates a constant stream of communication that’s difficult to keep up with. Levels of workplace stress and mental health problems are also rising, with one in four experiencing a mental health problem each year. It’s time that we normalised taking time to unplug. This way, we can build up burnout resilience and protect our physical and mental health in the process. Sometimes all it takes is a few days’ rest.”
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