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Beat the Burnout

Written by: Tahlea

26 November 2021

Culture

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Beat the Burnout

Whether you’re currently experiencing burnout, find yourself on the verge of it or you’re simply curious to know more about this topic – I hope this article educates and empowers you to put measures in place to protect your wellbeing, and help you to identify the warning signs that we often ignore or justify. There is this saying that goes “Rest is not a reward, but it’s necessary for your health”, which serves as a gentle reminder and always puts things into perspective for me.

 

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to read up on articles giving you advice on how to ‘beat the burnout’, but life has become increasingly busier and more demanding, which has naturally led to prolonged periods of stress and exhaustion. In 2019, the World Health Organisation recognised burnout as a syndrome in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) however, it was acknowledged as an occupational phenomenon and not a medical condition. 

 

If it’s not a medical condition, then what exactly is burnout? According to Lesley Burns, an occupational therapist, burnout syndrome is diagnosed once all three dimensions namely; exhaustion, cynicism and reduced professional efficacy, coexist in an individual. While there are many factors that could contribute to burnout, people usually assume they need to lessen their workload or capacity to combat it. Burns states that it is a misperception that only work demands cause burnout, as there are five other contributing factors: interpersonal relationships, positive feedback, autonomy, fairness and values. 

 

I’m not surprised that these factors also play a massive role in an individual’s overall health and wellness. Let’s look at which warning signs we should keep an eye out for.

 

Warning Signs

 

Overwhelming sense of exhaustion

Often these warning signs affect your personal life first and then slowly infiltrate your professional life. While feeling tired after a busy workday is relatively normal, over a long period of time (without any boundaries), it could lead to experiencing an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Merriam-Webster defines exhaustion as “completely or almost completely depleted of resources or contents”. 

 

Changes in behaviour and character

When we’re overwhelmed with stress and exhaustion, our mood is affected and could overflow into both our personal and professional lives. At first you might not pick up on it but your colleagues and close friends might see a change in your behaviour, or you might do or say things that are out of character. 

 

Disconnectedness from one’s job or personal life

You might experience feelings of disinterest when new projects are introduced, or you don’t really get excited to spend time with family or friends anymore and prefer to be alone.

 

These, along with others, are telltale signs of burnout. However, there are several practical steps you can take to help alleviate any pressure or stress you’re currently facing.

 

Practical Steps

 

Establish a morning routine

Having a morning routine that you’re excited about and enjoy is a game-changer. A morning routine that you love allows you to look forward to the day. Plus, you’re able to take time for yourself before the busyness of the day starts. Your morning routine could include going for a walk, reading a book, brewing coffee, or attending an exercise class.

 

Set boundaries

Boundaries are important in both your personal and professional life. Boundaries help protect us from behaviour we don’t tolerate or from being mistreated. Work boundaries could include muting your emails after hours or working between set hours. Other boundaries could include blocking out an evening or a day over the weekend to spend time with family or focusing on your hobbies. 

 

Schedule breaks

Taking breaks throughout the day is important to reset and focus. You can do this effectively by implementing the Pomodoro technique, a time management method where you usually break up your work into 25 minute intervals, with a 5 minute break in between. It is known to increase your productivity and quality of life. In the 5 minute breaks, you could meditate, do breathing exercises, or take a quick walk. Tip: Schedule breaks in your calendar so that you don’t forget.

 

Start journaling

Identifying your triggers is important so that you are aware of them. Writing them down or typing them out helps to process your emotions in a healthy way. Journaling your thoughts at the beginning of the day or writing down what you’re grateful for puts things into perspective and can boost your mood. If you prefer to speak through your emotions, there are great therapy options available.  

 

Learn how to relieve your stress quickly and easily

Perhaps you enjoy going for a run or listening to a podcast to help ease your mind. Maybe you enjoy listening to music and dancing while cooking or taking a walk out in nature. Have fun and learn what relieves your stress by trying out new things and getting to know yourself. 

 

Why don’t you implement one of these practical steps right now instead of waiting for a warning sign? Don’t let life get the best of you, put your boundaries in place so that you can thrive!