Burnout is becoming common among the Australian workforce. While you may not think that it is a problem, it costs workplaces $14.81 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity every year.
It is such a widespread problem that, in 2019, the World Health Organization declared burnout as a syndrome characterised by the following:
- Feeling exhausted and having a lack of energy.
- An increase in mental distance from your job, or feeling negative or cynical about your job.
- Reduced productivity in the workplace.
Workplace burnout is a real problem. In 2020, during the pandemic where many people worked from home, a survey found that four out five respondents reported burning out.
Burnout is more than feeling stressed by your job or job dissatisfaction. Without help it can have serious consequences for your mental and physical health. When you are burnt out, work becomes exhausting and you no longer enjoy your job as you once did.
Research by Dr Christina Maslach defines three different types of burnout:
- Interpersonal burnout. Interpersonal burnout is the result of having to deal with difficult relationships at work or home. An example is continually having to deal with an aggressive manager. This can compound the stress you feel at work so it spills over into your personal relationships.
- Organisational burnout. Organisational burnout is when your job continually makes unreasonable demands with unrealistic timelines. This can make you feel you are failing and in danger of losing your job.
- Individual burnout. Individual burnout can mean you are a perfectionist. Your continual negative self-talk can make you feel that nothing you do is good enough.
Causes of burnout
Burnout does not happen overnight. It builds up over time until you reach breaking point. The following are some of the common risks associated with burning out:
- Unrealistic timelines.
- Lack of support and poor communication from managers.
- A workload that never seems to lessen no matter how hard you work to get on top of it.
- The inability to manage your time well.
- Always waiting for others to complete their work so you can do yours can make you feel you have no control.
- Working too many hours on too many projects.
- A toxic workplace.
- A lack of a clear career pathway at the company you work for.
- An inability to disconnect from the worries of work at the end of the day.
- Performing the same work tasks every week.
- Doing your best to deliver desired outcomes but not getting the results you are aiming for.
- Poor work-life balance.
Before you can avoid or recover from burnout, you need to recognise the symptoms which include:
- Chest pain.
- Finding it difficult to be creative.
- Becoming more susceptible to getting sick.
- Cynicism about where you work, your role, industry and the company you work for.
- Chronic emotional and physical exhaustion.
- Trouble eating and/or sleeping properly.
- Feeling alienated or detached from work activities.
- Unexplained stomach aches or headaches.
Other more subtle signs of burnout may include:
- Thinking that caring about your home or work life is a waste of energy.
- Spending much of your day doing things that are boring and repetitive or you find them overwhelming.
- Feeling everyday is a bad day.
- Exhaustion becomes a normal feeling.
- Feeling that no one appreciates what you do.
- That no matter what you do it does not make a difference.
People more at risk of burning out
Anyone is at risk of burning out when working in a stressful environment with a lack of resources. While you may think burnout is more likely to affect women than men, there is no evidence of this.
Burnout occurs when you are working in a job that is unsuitable for your skills or personality. For example some people thrive under pressure and others cannot cope. Or some people do not care if they are consulted about workplace decisions and others will find it unacceptable. But there are certain traits you may have that put you more at risk than others. People are more likely to burn out if they are:
- Prone to stress
- Not involved in daily work activities
- Not flexible
- Feeling they do not have control
- Lack self-esteem.
Burnout is not the end of the world as you can put strategies in place to avoid it and you can recover from burnout syndrome if it affects you.
How to recover from burnout
Recovering from burnout is not easy but it is easier to recognise the signs of burnout and put strategies in place. Here are some strategies to help you either avoid or recover from burnout.
Build a support network
Building a support network at work and among your friends and family is important when it comes to burnout. Let people know how you feel. If talking to someone at work, avoid turning it into a venting session or you may risk alienating people.
When you have a social network, you may not even have to talk about what is getting you down. You may be too busy enjoying each other’s company. You know people have your back and they can give you renewed perspective.
Make sure you have a support system outside of work as well as it is important to take part in life outside of work so it refreshes your outlook.
Life outside of work
For burnout recovery and to prevent it, it is essential to have a life outside of work. After all, you work to live, you do not live to work. While being dedicated to your job is commendable, if you are struggling you need more than work to counter the build-up of pessimism and negativity.
Concentrate on activities you enjoy. Find a hobby — join a community group, find a painting class, go for a ride on your motorbike or go for a hike in the mountains. The goal is to have something else to focus on other than work.
So if your job is causing you to feel negative and empty, you need something to give you joy and a sense of meaning and achievement. Keep in mind that what you do to earn a living does not define who you are. Discover what else can make you feel good about yourself.
Eat and sleep well, and regularly exercise
Eating a nutritious diet and getting a good night’s sleep is super important to help you fight exhaustion. You need both to fuel your mind and physical body. The tendency can be to either binge eat or not eat at all when trying to recover from burnout. And this is not going to help you.
Also, get out and exercise. Yes, I know, it is easier said than done as exercising is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But it is worth pushing yourself to exercise. It does not matter what you do as it is about moving your body. Once you start, you will find you will want to do more. Walk around the block at lunchtime, take a walk along a beach after work, even dance to a song that moves you. Just start and then keep it going.
Take time out
If you are heading down the road of burning out or trying to recover, you need to take time out. Burnout is a form of mental and physical exhaustion that can affect anyone in any type of job. Even if you love your job, you can experience burnout.
While going on holiday may not be an option, take a weekend or two off and just laze around the house. Take the dog for a walk. Enjoy a good meal with family or friends. Watch a movie. Make time for all the things you enjoy that you keep putting off.
While taking time out is the ideal solution, there are some techniques you can learn and use during the working week:
- Use breathing techniques. When feeling exhausted try deep breathing techniques to help manage your stress.
- Take short, regular breaks. Take short, regular breaks at work. Ideally take 5 minutes every 30 minutes spent focusing on one task or at your desk. This helps to prevent you from becoming exhausted and helps you recharge so you can be more productive.
It does not matter how important your job is, it is not more important than you and your health.
Create a daily ritual to wind down
Create a daily ritual to wind down after work. Disconnecting from the pressures of work is important to prevent or recover from burnout. It helps you to relax and signifies it is the end of your work day. Try the following steps to help you wind down every day:
- Start by turning off all work devices at the end of the day. Replace them with something healthier such as exercise, a healthy meal and good night’s sleep.
- Spend time relaxing on your own if you can. Even half an hour of alone time after the kids go to bed is beneficial.
- Take time out to work on a hobby or mastering a new skill. Something that challenges you but you enjoy and find relaxing.
- Before going to bed, create a sense of control by writing a to-do list for the next day and reflecting on the events of the day.
Combine your daily rewind ritual with a commitment to spending some of your weekends just relaxing and enjoying the company of friends and family. And, if you still dread going to work on Monday morning, you may need to take some holiday leave or make changes to your lifestyle.
Brain Wellness Spa
Trying to recover from burnout is not easy. The level of exhaustion and the feeling of emptiness can cause you mental and physical health problems if you do not learn how to manage it. It is difficult to recover from burnout as your work performance can be how you measure your sense of self and your achievements. This can become a habit. But if you do not prioritise your recovery, it will escalate. Until you do something about how you feel, it will continue to negatively impact you and those around you.
The Brain Wellness Spa is pioneering a new technique, a natural treatment to avoid or recover from burnout that may help. It only requires you to relax. Highly trained facilitators help you learn how to recognise your stressors and how to manage them. It may help you take back control of your life. And you may notice an improvement after the first session.
With some simple changes to your life, and with practice, you can learn to cope better. Discover why work is causing you to burnout so you may avoid it or recover.
If burnout is affecting your life, it is time to turn it around. Time to do something positive about it. Seek help. Take back control. You do not have to go through it alone. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start taking good care of your mental health. And get back to enjoying life.
If you struggle with burnout, reach out to our professionals. When you are not coping, contact us. We can talk to you about getting your life back on track. But if you reach a crisis point, call us immediately. We are here to support you.
We can work with you over the phone, via Skype or in our Spas. Book today for my Emotional Empowerment Program. I have an introductory offer for just $99 so you may start taking back control of your life. We aim to help you cope with any mental health challenges so you may recover from burnout. Our facilitators may alleviate the effects of these so you start to take control and enjoy life again.
Let me help alleviate the effects of burnout
My Emotional Empowerment Program has helped many people for more than a decade. My aim is to help manage your symptoms. This can give you a new hope for the future. A future filled with happiness, peace and contentment in weeks not years. Listen to what xxxxx has to say about my program after only a few sessions.
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