If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to start looking after yourself. Work-related burnout is a worrying trend. It can impact all on parts of your life and takes time to recover from.
As with all things mental health-related, if you are experiencing the symptoms of burnout, speak to a qualified professional. Find out if your company has an Employee Assistance Program that gives you access to counselling.
If you are feeling burnt out, we have put together six actionable tips to help you on the way to recovery. They are:
- Leave the house every day. Exercise, sunlight and social connection are essential for better mental health and wellbeing.
- Improve your diet. When stressed and anxious many of us crave the wrong types of food. Eating the right types of food can help your depressed immune system and improve your health overall.
- Take stock of your values and goals. Extreme stress and burnout could indicate that it is time for a break and time to re-evaluate. Assess what really matters to you in life and what you want out of a career and decide which areas need change.
- Talk about it. Don’t be afraid to seek help and support from your employer, colleagues, friends and family. Professional support is also available and recommended.
- Be mindful and positive. Things may seem impossible right now but be positive that you can get through this. Practicing mindfulness meditation and positive affirmation techniques can help.
- Be patient and kind to yourself. Don’t expect instant change and be kind to yourself by avoiding negative self-talk. The recovery process takes time.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a layman’s, catch-all term for when people feel emotionally and physically exhausted. It usually incorporates a combination of physical and psychological symptoms and diagnoses. People experiencing burn-out often feel cynical, ineffective and unappreciated in their job.
Some personality types are more likely to suffer burnout than others. Perfectionists are at high-risk because they set themselves such high standards.
People who doubt their own abilities and have low self-esteem are at higher risk of burnout because, rather than seeing difficult work as a challenge, they feel stressed, anxious and inadequate.
According to researchers in the book The Truth About Burnout, employee burnout is often caused by:
- High workload causing mental exhaustion
- Feeling unappreciated at work adding to a worker’s emotional burnout
- A disconnect between a worker’s values and the organisation’s values
- Poor treatment by a manager or the organisation
- The employee’s control being either undermined or restricted
- Lack of community in the organisation - there is no one to turn to for support
Burnout is usually slow to progress but there are clear warning signs that you may be on the way to burning out. Some sufferers may only have one sign while others have a multitude of symptoms.
The symptoms of burnout include:
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
- Chest pains or heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, headaches, stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
- Tense, angry, anxious, depressed
- Weakened immune system
- Poor job performance
How to Recover from Burnout
Just as it took time to become burnt out, the recovery process can be just as long. Below are just a few tips you can try to help along the healing process.
1. Leave the House Every Day
The burnout symptoms and recovery period can make you feel like turning into a homebody if you aren’t going to work. While you need to get plenty of rest, it’s just as important to keep in touch with people and the outside world. Even just going for a walk every day can help improve your outlook. Light exercise is ideal for beating depression and anxiety so go for a swim or join a casual team sport.
2. Improve Your Diet
Mental exhaustion can make it difficult to shop and prepare meals for yourself but eating a poor diet supplemented with alcohol is a recipe for a longer recovery. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals will make you feel better and will help with building up your depleted immune system. There is now evidence that gut health is linked to mental health so eating foods that are good for your gut could be helpful. Remember to get a little sunshine each day for some vitamin D.
3. Take Stock of Your Values and Goals
Burnout can be a life-altering time of life. Use it to assess what changes you could make to your life to improve it. You might decide to change jobs or industry to one that is better aligned with your values or re-evaluate your time and commitment to your career. For instance, sometimes people work long hours but are not necessarily productive during those hours. Others may have forgotten what they are aiming for in their career and feel on a treadmill that they can’t get off. You might decide to spend time with your family and friends rather putting in long hours at the office. Think about what you want in life.
4. Be Prepared to Talk About It
Things are unlikely to change unless you do something about it. Burnout rarely goes away of its own accord. Mental health difficulties don’t have the same stigma they did 10 or so years ago. Don’t be ashamed to tell work that you are experiencing burnout or mental health problems. You may want to take some leave or reduce your workload to help with recovery. Your feedback may encourage your employer to make changes that could help your current and future colleagues. You may need to rely on your friends and family more than ever now to get through this challenging time.
5. Practice Positivity and Mindfulness
You may have spent months being cynical and feeling angry but that doesn’t mean you need to be like this forever. Try to think positively and envisage a better future for yourself. Surround yourself with supportive and positive people who can help you maintain a positive outlook on life. It’s likely that you will need regularly reminding that this state isn’t permanent and that you will beat it. Mindfulness and meditation has been proven to help with anxiety, stress and depression and are worth looking into. Talking therapies, such as counselling or cognitive-behavioural coaching have considerable research proving they have a very positive effect. They might be helpful to keep you focussed on practical, positive thought patterns and activities.
6. Be Patient and Kind to Yourself
If you are suffering from burnout, one of the most important things you can do is to be patient with yourself. Learning how to deal with work burnout takes time. Overcoming burnout can take months before you feel like your old self again.
If you feel burnt out and you need help with your recovery, contact a qualified therapist at PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.