What is ‘Burnout’?
Burnout is a form of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion that can be defined as ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed‘.
Previously, burnout was classified as a ‘state’ of exhaustion but it has now officially been recognised as a chronic condition. As of 2020 it will be globally recognised as a medical condition. There has been much scepticism about burnout, as some belief it is an over-exaggerated problem and one that millennials tend to complain about.
If you have not experienced burnout, or extreme stress, it is hard to understand just how much of an effect it can have on one’s health. With more and more people suffering from the symptoms, it is unfair to ignore and sweep under the carpet.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
There are various symptoms of burnout and people react in different ways. The most common symptoms of burnout are:
- Physical – headaches, stomach aches, internal cramps.
- Emotional – feeling drained, tired and unable to cope. Feeling anxious. Emotionally distant.
- Lack of motivation/extreme exhaustion.
- Reduced performance in the workplace.
- Extreme frustration.
- Continual negativity towards tasks.
- Depression – feelings of hopelessness and potential suicidal thoughts.
- Problems with sleep.
- Change in apetite.
- Frequent illness.
Causes of work-related burnout.
Burnout can occur in any industry. Whether you work in a corporate office, hospital, non profit organisation or at home by yourself. Everyone deals with stress in different ways, but the common causes leading to this extreme form of stress at work might be:
- Excessive workload.
- Cynicism from work colleagues.
- Work-life imbalance.
- Extremely demanding and overwhelming career.
- Extreme stress at work.
- Dysfunctional workplace.
- Repeated unfair treatment by a manager.
- Lack of support from a manager/team.
- Lack of sleep.
How to deal with burnout.
The most important way to deal with burnout is to communicate and talk to someone about it, whether it be your manager, boss, work colleague, family member or friend. Burnout isn’t something that happens overnight, it is a gradual process, so if you feel like you aren’t coping it is best to deal with the stress early on before it manifests into something more serious.
There are of course other ways to deal with it and there is plenty of help out there.
- Mindfulness – ThinkWell LiveWell is a helpful website that offers complimentary programmes to assist you in managing stress. It offers techniques on how to live in the present and develop emotional awareness. They will help you understand your own behaviour and engage with your subconscious.
- Prioritise – take some time to write down a list of priorities in your life, particularly your responsibilities at work. Learn to say ‘no’ to activities or tasks that you think will overwhelm you or add to your feeling of stress. Dr Marilyn Glenville states; “Being assertive is invigorating and empowering. It also helps to make lists of what is or is not a priority and to tackle the priority tasks first. This will help give you a sense of control over your life.”
- Houseplants – Man For Himself recently added a variety of houseplants to the home office and discovered they definitely have a calming effect. They can add a sense of comfort to a workspace and boost creativity. London’s leading nutritionist, Lily Soutter, recommends having a lavender plant at your desk or at home as the scent can help relieve stress and improve sleep.
How To Use Houseplants
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Other ways to prevent burnout:
- Regular exercise – going for a run can help take your mind off work. Alternatively, try something more relaxing like yoga.
- New job – consider the current role you are in as it might be worth a fresh start in a new job/career.
- Holiday – it might be worth taking some well-earned time off from work. This will not be a long-term solution though.
- Mental Health professional – don’t be afraid to talk to a professional about how you are feeling. They will be able to take you through the steps to defeating burnout.
- Essential oils – try using some essential oils, such as lavender or chamomile, in the evening to help you relax.