Work burnout

When is work stress too much?

Work-related stress is normal to some degree. We all want a job which will challenge us, make us feel fulfilled and sound impressive at a dinner party (let’s face it, who doesn’t…).

Some of us are very good at dealing with work stress and can continue to work hard indefinitely. Others instead find it harder to sustain this lifestyle because the stress and fatigue catches up with them: this is when burnout can happen.

Burnout can be triggered by a job rejection, a missed promotion or even just extended periods of stress. Recognising the signs is the key to maintaining our mental wellbeing.

Burnout is exhausting, both mentally and physically and may feel something like this:

Emotionally

 

Emotionally

  • You feel like you are underperforming
  • You think about work all the time
  • You feel sad
  • You isolate yourself

Behaviourally

 

Behaviourally

  • You forget things
  • You can’t concentrate on tasks at hand
  • You’re irritable and get into arguments
  • You can’t enjoy the things you usually love

Physically

 

Physically

  • You’re exhausted all the time
  • You constantly get ill
  • You have trouble falling asleep
  • You lose your appetite or eat too much
  • You get headaches
  • You have digestive issues

What can you do about it?

Burnout can be easily prevented by adopting a healthy attitude to work. Implementing these simple tips when you are going through a stressful time (or, even better, every day) will do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

Know how burnout works

Do this when you are stressed at work

Burnout can make us feel like our work life is crashing around us and there is nothing we can do about it. However, although burnout can be brought about by external triggers, it is our internal dialogue which keeps it fuelled.
Realising that our mind is creating catastrophic scenarios is the first step to avoiding falling into the burnout trap. The second is to refrain from engaging into the scenarios that your mind conjures and just taking a step back.

Build relaxation time into your day

Do this when you are stressed at work

“But I don’t have time to relax!” you might say. You do – give up 10 minutes of scrolling through social media (more on this later…) to do something that relaxes you.
It can be anything: mindful breathing, colouring in, writing, taking a bath – whatever! This really helps to reset and help you take your mind off work. A simple 10 minutes will do wonders for your productivity and wellbeing.

Take a step back and relativise

Do this when you are stressed at work

This is much easier said than done, but when we are stressed we tend to forget that our success at work does not define us as people. Make a conscious effort to realise that you have other important things in your life, like family and friends, and that work should not overshadow everything else.
This will really put things into perspective and relieve at least some of the stress.

Tell a friend

Do this when you are feeling stressed

We say this a lot, but it’s true! Sharing worries with a friend has been proven to be effective at reducing stress.
Find someone who is understanding and non-judgemental; speaking to them will help you put things into perspective and feel understood.

Limit social media use

Always do this, especially when you are feeling stressed

While it’s important to stay connected with friends, there are ways to do this other than social media. At the best of times, social media is not good for self-esteem (FOMO anyone?!), so it definitely won’t be helpful if you are already feeling stressed. Try to use it mindfully (i.e. check it once or twice a day) and avoid reverting to it automatically every time you are bored.

Find something you are passionate about

Do this as much as possible

Make sure that you are doing something other than commuting from home to work and back. Find an activity which fulfils you and stick to it. For some it might be sports, for others volunteering in the community. Whatever it is make sure you do it regularly.
This really helps to channel your energy away from stressors and into something that makes you happy – you will see results immediately!

Exercise

Do this as much as possible

Exercise is a great antidote to stress. Try to do this at least once or twice a week – it is an excellent stress relief and helps to release endorphins, which increases your mood.

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