Preventing burnout 

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Health Assured team

18 February 2022

Imagine a car, running on empty, drained of fuel, jittering on with no juice left. That’s how burnout feels. Devoid of energy, the state has similarities to depression, with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and isolation to name but a few. 

There’s a link between stress and burnout. And while chronic, long-term stress can induce this frazzled state—there’s a juxtaposition between the two. Stress has frantic energy to it; you're trying to spin too many plates at once. There’s high pressure and a drive to get things done. Yet with burnout, we have no energy left to give. Our mental, emotional, and psychological resources are all dried up

At its worst, burnout can leave us out of action for weeks, needing time to rest, recuperate and recover. And one of the most tricky parts about it? Burnout tends to hit us like a brick wall. Suddenly, we’re exhausted and unable to go on anymore. That’s why we need to try and stay attuned to our mental-emotional state and become aware that we’re treading in choppy waters. This handy guide will help you to do just that. 

 

Spotting the signs of exhaustion early 

Burnout is characterised by a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. But these signs aren’t always easy to spot. Especially if you’ve been under stress for some time. The symptoms can creep up on you when you least expect them. But when we recognise early signs, they’re easier to address. So keep an eye out for the signs below in you and others that you know: 

  • Feelings of emptiness 
  • Trouble sleeping or fatigue 
  • Becoming irritated easily 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt 
  • Loss of motivation 
  • Isolating from others 
  • Headaches 

Causes 

Stress affects everyone differently. There’s no one cause. But generally, external events tend to trigger burnout. Some potential causes include: 

  • Job demands
  • High-pressure environment 
  • Neglecting own needs (sleep, healthy diet, hydration)
  • Too many responsibilities 
  • Emotionally demanding situations 

Preventing burnout 

The best way to beat burnout is by prevention. Once you’re burnt out, it can be hard to make a comeback, but the self-care methods below should help you combat burnout before it takes over. 

Seeking help

Asking for help can be a challenge, but sometimes it’s necessary. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and add to the stress. 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. Remember—everyone has limits. 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. Finding balance in life is hard. But with a little conscious effort, we can continue to work towards it. 

Creativity

Research shows that creative arts interventions can lead to a significant reduction in stress. These activities include art, music, dance, and drama. So try squeezing in a spot of creativity where you can. It could be doodling for ten minutes, dancing in the shower or listening to your favourite song. These snippets of creativity will help reduce your stress levels. 

Mindfulness 

Mindfulness involves bringing your attention to the present moment. This can help you challenge the negative thinking that comes from chronic stress. 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. 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. Putting a pause on the fast pace and tending to our wellbeing. 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. 

 

For more help tackling Burnout, get in touch with Health Assured on: 

UK: 0844 892 2493

ROI: 01 886 0324

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