why is everyone suffering from burnout and what can you do to avoid it?
So, we’re taking a stand - we want to say goodbye to burnout for good! In this article, we’re going to take a look at what burnout is, why it happens, how you can recognise it, recover from it, and finally, make sure you’re putting practices in place in your day-to-day life to ensure it doesn’t sneak up on you over time!
By Liv Surtees / Jul 14, 2022
The inability to say “no” to plans. The overflowing amount of work on your desk. The testing household project that seems to have been going on for months. These are all things that could easily cause burnout.
Yet, so often, we ignore all of these mounting issues until the moment when we feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted - we put off actively avoiding burnout until it creeps up on us and stops us in our tracks.
With studies showing that 52% of working people experienced burnout at some point during 2021, it’s clear that not only does it affect overwhelming large amounts of people, but we aren’t doing enough to combat it as a society.
what is burnout?
Whilst burnout may be one of the most common words out there right now (how concerning is that in itself!), you may not be sure what burnout actually is.
Well, although burnout may look and feel different to everyone, the general definition of burnout is that it is exhaustion and fatigue brought on by long-term demanding situations, whether physical, emotional, or mental.
A hugely important thing to understand when it comes to defining burnout is that it’s something that happens over time but then makes it impossible to continue moving forward in the same way - this is due to the fact that the road to burnout is often not recognised and it only becomes obvious once people are fully burnt out!
why does burnout happen?
Although generally associated with careers and the workplace, burnout can happen to anyone for any reason. There’s no singular recipe that creates burnout - if there was, we’d never use it and all move on without worrying about burnout ever again!
Typically, regardless of whether it’s career-focused or not, burnout happens when things such as adequate rest, good nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness go out of the window in replacement of a prolonged period of tiresome or testing work of some kind.
However, burnout can still occur when things are “normal” as a result of doing something that you don’t actually feel you have passion for a long period of time or if you feel like you’re going through life without a real sense of purpose.
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what are the signs of burnout?
Becoming aware of the signs of burnout is incredibly important because it allows you to have an understanding of what to look out for and stop burnout in its tracks rather than having it take control of you.
Much like the causes of burnout, the signs of burnout are unique and vary depending on the person experiencing it. However, most commonly, burnout targets two main areas of health - the physical and the mental.
Common physical signs of burnout: fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, inability to sleep, frequently getting ill, lack of appetite or overeating.
Common mental signs of burnout: lower productivity, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, anxiety, forgetfulness.
If you experience any (or several) of these symptoms, take a moment to step back and think about whether or not you could be succumbing to burnout - monitoring your health and wellbeing on a regular basis can help you to tackle burnout before it fully develops (and of course, ensure you’re as happy and healthy as possible).
how to get over burnout if you're experiencing it: 6 steps
If you have, like so many of us, not recognised the signs of burnout and then suddenly gotten hit with the inability to do anything because you’re far too exhausted and overwhelmed, don’t panic just yet!
If you’re experiencing burnout, there are ways that you can support yourself to move forward as speedily and healthily as possible!
So, take a look at these 6 steps below and let’s get you on the road to burnout recovery!
Recognise When It's Important To Rest
Sometimes when we’re tired, we push through (I feel like most of us will be able to relate to this on a daily basis!). However, when you’re dealing with burnout and you feel tired, you need to rest. You have to take time for yourself to decompress from the situation that has caused this burnout and take some time to stop before you start the healing process of pushing through burnout. So, this is permission to rest more, not that you should ever need any! If you need to sleep more, do it. If you need to lay on the sofa, do it. If you need to cancel plans, do it.
Don't Judge Yourself
Unfortunately, a lot of us tend to have this nasty habit of judging ourselves and more often that not, judging ourselves way too harshly. When you’re struggling with burnout, this is a time when you have to remove all judgement from yourself. You are still capable, strong, motivated, and talented, but you just need a little break - that’s OK and you can’t judge yourself for that. Sometimes, especially if you’re someone that struggles with self-sabotaging thoughts, it helps to try and look after yourself as you would a loved one - would you judge them? No! So, stop doing it to yourself!
Open Up To Someone About How You Feel
There’s a saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” - well, this is true! Whether you’re still in the exhaustion stage of burnout or you need a little support whilst you’re fighting it off, open up to someone about how you feel and get advice or support if you need it. It’s totally OK to need a shoulder to lean on every now and again!
Step Back And Think About What Has Caused This
An important part of getting past burnout is thinking about what has caused you to reach this point in the first place, not only so you don’t get here again, but so that you can move forward and change or adapt parts of your life that maybe aren’t aligned with what brings you joy or who you are. When you feel ready, take a moment (or even a few days/weeks), to evaluate your life before this burnout occurred and pinpoint something (or a few things) that have caused you to experience burnout.
Do Things That Spark Joy In Your Life
Burnout may cause you to feel unhappy with and uninspired by your entire life - yes, it can really suck! So, you have to prioritise doing things in your life that truly spark joy. Do you want to go and grab an ice cream? Fancy head out on a long walk midday? Want to start sewing again? Whatever sparks joy in your life, do it!
Don't Rush The Recovery Process
Whilst you may want to get through burnout as fast as possible, which is understandable, you have to respect the process. If you push yourself to get back to “normal routine” too fast, you may realise that you haven’t conquered burnout but rather just incorporated it into your life in the long run - this is never good news and could actually cause some real long-term health issues.
how to avoid burnout in the long run: 6 tips
What’s better than a cure? Prevention! So, here’s a selection of tips you can use to avoid burnout in the long run and ensure you’re keeping yourself as healthy, happy, and balanced as possible!
Remember that “no” is a complete sentence and you don’t have to commit to everything that you’re asked to do. Keep a personal diary to track your plans, never overbook yourself, and recognise when you need time to recharge!
Move Your Body + Fuel It Properly
Getting an adequate amount of exercise and fueling yourself with good nutrition isn’t only important for your physical body, but for your mind too. So, support your happiness, mental health, and physical being by focusing on supporting your health in a way that makes you more resilient.
Get Good Sleep
Rest is incredibly important for both supporting overall wellbeing and combatting burnout. So, make sure you’re getting better sleep by practising good sleep hygiene and getting the right amount of sleep you need on a consistent basis!
Don't Practise Toxic Positivity
Make a decision right now to stop practising toxic positivity: practising toxic positivity is only ever going to lead to you feeling not only unable to process your genuine emotions, but it also makes you push yourself past your limits and can lead to burnout.
Promote A Good Work-Life Balance In Your Life
Since work is a main factor when it comes to experiencing burnout, make sure that you promote a good work-life balance in your life. Switch off your tech after the day ends, have a calming after-work window routine, don’t check your emails before you head to bed, and make sure you set clear boundaries that can’t be blurred between your home life and work life.
Reach Out For Support
As with anything, if you’re struggling, reach out for support. Whether you ask a colleague to help you out on a project that’s exhausting you or you want to speak to a mental health professional about everything you’ve got on your plate, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help and it can actually be incredibly impactful.
Let’s agree to collectively say goodbye to burnout together, now. Whilst the beauty of life is all about the ups and downs, we all deserve to feel a certain level of tranquillity and peace on a consistent basis. So, let’s protect ourselves and others from burnout from now!
Disclaimer: this article is here for educational purposes only and we are not giving active advice. You should always seek the advice and support of medical professionals if you have queries about your general health or if need support with the physical or mental symptoms of burnout mentioned in this article.