The following piece is a guest article from WellBe who offer personalised workplace wellbeing solutions.
Have you felt tired recently? Are you drained and done with the world?
With burnout symptoms increasing by 24% in 2020 and set to rise in the next 12 months, it’s likely that you are. With employees expected to work longer, focus harder, and achieve goals in this unprecedented time, as well as dealing with zoom fatigue, not to mention the homeschooling saga, it’s easy for our mental health to slip through the cracks. If this resonates with you, it’s likely you’re experiencing burnout.
According to helpguide’s definition, burnout is a “state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”
Whether you’re experiencing COVID burnout or burnout caused by other stresses in your life, it’s important that you rest, relax, and recover. That’s easier said than done, right? Finding time for a break isn’t easy but it’s definitely possible if you know what to look out for. So, here are six tips to help you refuel and re-energise.
1. Recognise the signs
While it’s easy to become burnt out, we often don’t recognise we’re burning out until we’re running on empty. One of the easiest ways to deal with burnout is to realise the early symptoms.
According to Very Well Mind, the symptoms of burnout are:
- Alienation from work-related activities: Individuals experiencing burnout will view their jobs as stressful and frustrating. They might grow cynical about their working conditions and who they are working with. They might also distance themselves and feel numb about their job and role.
- Physical symptoms of chronic stress: This may include headaches, stomachaches, or intestinal issues.
- Emotional exhaustion: Burnout causes people to feel drained and tired. So they often lack the energy to complete tasks.
- Reduced performance. Whether in work or in the home, individuals with burnout may have negative attitudes towards tasks, which reduces productivity. They will have difficulty concentrating and often a lack of creativity.
Have you been experiencing any of these symptoms? If so, it’s vital that you address them early on by making life changes that can stop mental and physical health symptoms, reducing the likelihood of complications.
2. Identify changes you can make immediately
So, now that you’ve recognised the signs of burnout. You know you need to stop the flame fast—but how? Look at your life and identify what you can cut back on immediately so you can have a well-deserved break.
The simplest way to do this is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there anything I can cut back on?
- Am I doing things in my job that should not be my responsibility?
- Is there anyone that is depending on me that should not be?
If you find anything that makes you lose your sense of control, has unclear expectations, or pushes you too far, try cutting back.
3. Ask for different responsibilities
A typical cause of burnout is having too much on our plate. It’s usually after taking on too many tasks from other people. This is especially true when dealing with work burnout, as our desk can often be piled high with tasks that we sometimes shouldn’t be doing.
While it might be nerve-racking, sit down with your employer or ask for a zoom meeting, outline what’s been happening with your workload, and see they can switch up your responsibilities. For some, it might be as simple as knocking off a few things on your to-do list where for others it might be a complete change in role. Before going into this meeting, be crystal clear on what you want. Identify your strengths in both your professional and personal life, what is pushing you to your limit, and what needs to change.
4. Set boundaries
Another key cause of burnout is a lack of work-life boundaries. And when it comes to working from home/if you work remotely, this is especially true, as you’re more likely to be working longer hours during the pandemic. Research shows that employees are adding up to 2.5 hours extra to their working day.
To help ease the effects of burnout and help you recover, set strict times for you to clock in and out of work. If someone messages you a few minutes before your shift ends, asking for a quick meeting, tell them you’re nearly done for the day and that you’ll speak to them tomorrow. Similarly, when work ends, turn off work communications; this includes emails, texts, and other online messaging systems such as slack.
By giving yourself time to destress and compartmentalise, you can allow yourself the opportunity to fully recover from your burnout and de-stress. Are you still looking for more boundary-setting tips? Check out our article on how to improve your work-life balance.
Similarly, you should set in-work boundaries to make sure you’re managing your time effectively. For example, don’t be afraid to say no to a colleague. Just because they’ve come to you, if you are too stressed or burnt out, you don’t have to agree to help them. Too often we allow ourselves to burn out by taking on responsibilities that we shouldn’t, so say no!
5. Practice self-compassion
Sometimes, things just don’t go our way. No matter how much we work on a project or try to solve something, we simply can’t. This can often lead us to feel burnt out, overly stressed, and needing a break. An excellent tool to use in these situations is self-compassion. Self-compassion and mindfulness have been associated with lower stress and greater confidence, which enables you to achieve your goals more effectively—without all the worrying.
6. Pay attention to your needs
So often in burnout, we don’t prioritise what we need. Instead, we focus our attention on tasks or situations that can be left until later/our needs are met. For some, this might mean neglecting self-care (e.g. not brushing your teeth). Others might find it hard to know when to stop or take an evening off. But in some cases, this can manifest into much greater forms of self-neglect such as not eating, not drinking enough, or not getting enough sleep.
To keep on top of your health, try to set strict bedtimes, meal times, and drink enough water throughout the day. While grabbing a drink or having a snack when you’re hungry might feel like a setback when you’re on a roll, allowing yourself the space to put yourself first above any task is key in dealing and overcoming burnout.
7. Talk to someone
When we’re experiencing burnout, regardless of the situation we’re in, we can withdraw from other elements of our lives. Not wanting to put any more pressure and stress on ourselves, we simply don’t have the energy to socialise. So, we isolate, shrink our circles, and try to hibernate until it all blows over.
Although it goes against what our energy levels can handle, it’s important to reach out to friends, family, and even your work colleagues. Tell them of your struggles, figure out together what you can change, and make sure your social circle doesn’t shrink.
If you feel like you’re struggling with extreme burnout, contact your GP for further support.
Here at WellBe, we do whatever we can to support employee’s wellbeing. Whether it’s connecting you with a therapist or life coach, or finding other methods of slowing your life down, we’re here to help, to help you take preventative measures in order to thrive and not just survive.
Regardless of why you’re experiencing burnout, no one should suffer alone.