Stress and burnout have become an increasing and often-discussed phenomenon over the last decade but what exactly is burnout?
The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” If left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance.
Anyone can experience burnout, regardless of their occupation, when they have elevated stress levels, work long hours, become exhausted and feel unappreciated or devalued. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for.
Exhaustion: This can occur as a result of emotional, mental or physical stress and strain. It manifests itself in the form feeling tired, lacking energy and having a sense of being completely spent.
Cognitive Problems: Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate. You might find that you’re more forgetful and have a harder time remembering things.
A Decrease in General Satisfaction: This is the tendency to feel less happy and unsatisfied with your career and home life. You might begin feeling dissatisfied or even stuck, whether it be at home, in your community or with your social circle and activities.
Health: Burnouts can have widespread implications for our health, well-being and ability to function.
For genuine recovery and prevention to happen and succeed, you need to find the real, deeper issue behind why you’re burnt out. Remember, always treat the disease and not the symptoms.
How often have you worked hard towards a goal, achieved it and then wondered what all the fuss was about? Do you ever feel as if you’ve ticked all of the right boxes and yet something is still missing? That void – the sense of something missing – is the driver of much of the striving in our society.
We constantly tell ourselves things like: “When I get that job/qualification or earn a certain salary and drive that particular car/live in that neighbourhood, then I’ll be happy.” The problem is, striving only makes the void greater.
In the process of striving we compromise our values and fall in line with what is expected and accepted and neglect what truly matters – our relationships and our well-being. Here are a few useful, everyday tips to avoid this pitfall:
Make downtime a daily ritual: To help relieve pressure, schedule daily blocks of downtime to allow your brain and body to rest. It can be anything from meditation to taking a quick nap, going for a walk or simply turning off the wifi for a while.
Stop being a perfectionist: Trying to maximize every task and squeeze every drop of productivity out of your creative work is a recipe for exhaustion and procrastination. Set yourself boundaries for acceptable work and stick to them.
Cut down and start saying “No!”: Every “yes” you say puts another thing on your plate and takes more energy away from you and your creativity. If you take on too many commitments, start saying “no”. If you have too many ideas, execute a few and put the rest in a folder labelled ”backburner”.
Answer emails at set times: Switch your phone off, or even leave it behind. The world won’t end. I promise!
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