Burnout is a phrase that everyone in the 21st century is familiar with: the exposure to excessive stress which can lead to impaired cognitive function, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, a decreased sense of accomplishment and many more mental, emotional and physical symptoms. Today we’re going to cover aspects of burnout, as well as how to avoid burnout (if that’s possible).
In today’s culture and society, where hard-work and the elusive hustle are so sought-after, it’s likely that all of us have experienced at least one of the symptoms of burnout at some point or another. Perhaps not to the degree of which I’ve explained them above but certainly to the point where it’s effected our mood and self care abilities.
I’m collaborating with fellow blogger Chloe from Nyxie’s Nook on this post. Chloe and I were both planning to write about burnout at the same time so we decided to come together and write a collaborative post on how to avoid burnout, with some personal tips and experiences as well. For now, I’ll hand you over to Chloe:
How to avoid burnout, from Chloe:
What’s the difference between stress and burnout?
Before learning how to avoid burnout, we first need to understand it. Burnout is caused by long-term ‘breaking-down.’ You become so buffed and wore away by the weight of everything, that you eventually break down completely. Nothing feels like it matters anymore and for some it means feeling suicidal.
On the other hand, stress is slightly different. Instead of long-term, it’s often quite acute. You can experience stress after a busy few days at work or during challenging life changes. But while stress may appear to be ‘less serious’ than burnout, it’s important to be vigilant. While stress is often short-term, it can be detrimental if it’s constantly being experienced.
It’s important to remember that while both of these things may are largely associated with the workplace, they can occur anywhere! In school, friendships and even caregiving roles.
How to avoid burnout in a practical way
Not everyone experiences burnout in the same way. However, there are various ways that it can be avoided, most of which all of us could utilize:
Analyze your life
When you’re experiencing chronic burnout, you often feel like you’re going through the motions. It’s almost like running on a treadmill! Not only is it exhausting but it’s never ending! No matter what you do or how fast you go, you just can’t get caught up.
This is where you need to take a step back and analyze your life. If it’s your job causing the most distress, then address that area of your life. A loved one? Speak to them about it. Caregiving? Ask for help!
Sometimes we can be balancing so many plates that we have to set some down. I recently had to retire from volunteer work because not only do I work forty five hours a week, but I also write for an additional ten. Not to mention my studying! It was all becoming too much and while it broke my heart, there was simply no more room in my life.
Engage in self-care
Self-care is a crucial part of keeping your cup at a safe, operational level. When we feel ourselves running low on physical, emotional and mental energy, it allows us to step aside and begin to recharge. How you practice self-care is an individual preference and it can range from simply reading a book to going on vacation.
Plus, self-care is very subjective! There are so many things you can do to help yourself recharge from chilling out with your friends to kicking back in a warm bubble bath. It’s up to you!
It can be wonderful to just cancel everything, put your phone on silent and declare a ‘me’ day. In fact, I’ve found that they’re essential to maintaining my mental health! But for some that’s simply not possible, so it’s important to find other ways to practice unwind. But be careful. There can come a time when ‘self-care’ slips into ‘self-soothing.’ Otherwise known as ‘survival’ mode.
If things start to feel like they’re slipping through your fingers, pull them back! Communicate with your manager or boss on how they can help you get the most out of your skills and develop. Or maybe you’ve taken on too much? In this case you should speak up and discuss how they can help you manage your workload, or even reduce it.
No matter what it is or what you do; Talk about it. By openly talking about it you’re more likely to find ways to address it. It could be as simple as asking for more help around the house, or being given more freedom in your workplace.
Learn how to manage stress
Stress is normal and it’s important that we learn how to manage and reduce it properly. For example, we can reduce the level of stress we experience by asking for help, practice adequate self-care and setting boundaries.
If we learn to manage our stressors at the root, we can learn how to avoid burnout long-term. The first step to managing stress is recognizing when it happens. We all feel stress in different ways, some get angry, others irritable and it’s not uncommon to experience physical symptoms too!
The causes of stress are also very diverse, so it’s really up to you to identify the signs in yourself. Only then can you begin to learn how to manage them.
Ask for help
Asking for help, especially when it comes to our mental health and wellbeing, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But, as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Reach out to your manager, your friends, family or even a third party for advice on how to avoid burnout. If you’re already approaching that point, then ask for help in reducing the impacts. Remember, it’s never too late to ask for help! Even if you’re at the point of completely breakdown, getting help in that moment can make a big difference.
When we’re stuck in an endless cycle of stress and burnout, it’s not uncommon to wear hypothetical ‘blinkers.’ We develop tunnel vision and only focus on what’s directly in front of us. However, asking for and accepting help can open us up to an entire world of alternatives. Sometimes these options never even crossed our mind but are perfectly feasible, but we were simply unable to see them.
Jenny’s experience with feeling burnout
Based on Chloe’s description of burnout, I can definitely relate to those feelings of the weight of the world on your shoulders and eventually, over time, feeling like nothing matters anymore. Although this is also linked to depression, feeling burnt out can absolutely amplify these feelings.
For me, when I feel burnt out, what I need is typically a few days to do nothing. To scrap the to-do lists, to practice mindfulness and be present in everything that I’m doing. I’ll typically have a lot of naps, probably eat a few takeaways and binge watch something on Netflix.
Rarely, I find that I want a holiday when I’m burnt out. When I’m stressed, then YES. I absolutely need to get away for a little while, to take myself on a solo spa break, have a staycation or plan some sort of trip. But with burn out, it’s different.
With burn out, I find I need to go inward, instead of out. I need to hone in on my self care practices, honor my needs and get reflective. I’m absolutely okay with staying at home – even staying in bed! – when I’m burnt out. I don’t need to go gallivanting off on holiday when I’m burnt out.
If anything, that’d probably exuberate the feelings, with that added pressure of wanting to do ALL THE THINGS and have ALL THE FUN on a holiday. Honestly? I’d rather have a good cry and a journaling session.
Jenny speaking! I don’t think it’s always 100% possible to AVOID burn out, especially when we all live such busy lives and have so many responsibilities. But I do think it’s possible to have such a self awareness that you can identify when the feeling start to arise and prepare accordingly.
If you can stop it in it’s tracks, then great.
If you can’t, then at least gather up the resources and tools in your emotional tool-bag to be able to deal with it effectively, in a way which works for you.
Thank you so much to Chloe for collaborating with me on this post. I love Chloe’s blog and content, so I’d highly recommend going to give her a follow and some love on her blog.
Over to you! Tell us about your experiences with burn out. Do you have any tips, tools or resources to share?
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