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What is Burnout and How to Prevent It

Posted by Erin Fischer on

Last week we mentioned burnout in our fireside chat and I realised that we don’t talk about burnout or how to prevent it enough.

Burnout is the state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It can impact all areas of your life and can even cause physical symptoms such as a weakened immune system which will leave you prone to catching colds, flus and various other illnesses which may linger longer than usual, increased heart rate and insomnia. 

Burnout symptoms start long before we notice them and by the time we do, it’s often hard to break the cycle. While job burnout is often spoken about, many factors, not just your job can impact burnout from juggling multiple responsibilities such as studying and work, family problems and generally burning the candle at both ends.

Stress and burnout are not the same and there are many things that set them apart including:

Stress

Burnout

Characterised by over engagement – feeling like you must attend events.

Characterised by disengagement – withdrawing from events.

Overreactive emotions – emotions are heightened.

Blunt emotions – feeling numb.

Produces energy and hyperactivity.

Produces helplessness and hopelessness.

Loss of energy.

Loss of motivation.

Primary damage is physical – raised heartrate, loss of sleep, feeling on edge.

Primary damage is emotional – feeling depressed, having no hope, feeling uninspired.

Feels like you’re drowning in responsibilities.

Feels like you’re dried up and have nothing else to offer.

 

As mentioned above burnout is caused by prolonged stress and eventually, we may feel like we are getting used to the stress as the stress symptoms reduce when, they are turning into burnout symptoms.

There are many things we can do to prevent burnout and it all starts when we feel our stress levels rise:

  • Practice Self-Care regularly – this article explains what self-care is and why it’s important.
  • Make sure you take breaks – when working from home this can be hard but make it a priority.
  • Get a good sleep – insomnia can be a sign of stress so make sure you are getting enough sleep.
  • Talk to someone – if you’re feeling overwhelmed by life share it with someone so you’re not doing it alone.
  • Listen to your body – eat healthy, exercise, rest and don’t push yourself when you are feeling unwell.
  • Say no – you’re allowed to say no to people, don’t feel pressured to say yes to something when you know deep down you need some downtime to relax.
  • Set boundaries and find balance – it can be hard to set boundaries and find balance at times especially if you are working from due to Covid. Let yourself switch off and separate work from home as much as possible. Don’t feel pressured to answer the phone or respond to an email straightaway if you’re off the clock or it’s outside your typical work hours.

It's easy to think that this stress may pass and to just keep working through it. But it can easily turn into burnout without us following noticing and one day you wake up with no motivation and feeling so bone tired it’s like you’re under a tonne of bricks and you have no motivation or desire to move them. Take care of yourself when you’re stressed because the moment it starts to turn into burnout it’s slippery slope that no one wants to be on.

Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Erin’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.

Resources:

Burnout Prevention and Treatment - HelpGuide.org

Job burnout: How to spot it and take action - Mayo Clinic


 

About Erin Fischer

Am the qualified mental health professional at Barty Single Origin. Write topical pieces with a focus on mental health. Always available on chat, Just say, 'Hey Erin'. Passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and letting people know it's A-OK to be not OK. Mental health advocate, Anxiety survivor, baker, crafter, cat lover, blogger, and always down to get a coffee and chat.


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