Recognise These Signs To Help Prevent Burnout
From exhaustion to performance; learn how to notice the signs that you're heading for burnout.
First coined by Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, burnout is a relatively new medical term. Burnout affects those of us who have undergone a prolonged period of extensive stress at work and is often characterised by three main dimensions; exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of reduced ability. The headline is; if you begin to hate your job, feel less capable and feel completely exhausted then it is more than likely that you are experiencing burnout.
Exhaustion is a continual depletion of your energy sources. It means that no matter what you do you feel as though you are moving through thick mud. Like an old mobile phone put on charge all day and the moment the plug is pulled your operating on 5% battery.
Exhaustion symptoms include; not being able to think straight, being beyond stress, hankerings for chocolate and crisps for quick energy fixes, mood swings and feeling as though you are permanently fighting off the office bug.
Exhaustions symptoms are incredibly physical I know we have all experienced aspects of them from time to time. Alone, symptoms can be managed with extended rest periods, but when you’re experiencing burnout – the weekend in bed doesn’t quite seem to cut it.
If you begin questioning the worth of your work, or if the work itself is worthwhile then the likelihood is that your pessimism is an indicator that you’re heading for burnout.
A lot of things can make us cynical about work. The sheer amount of work can feel overwhelming, favouritism by management, lack of role clarity and unreasonable time pressures.
This is where your Imposter Syndrome and Perfectionism can really kick your ass. If you’re already exhausted, overwhelmed and feeling as though you don’t have the support from your managers then the it’s reasonable that the quality of your work will suffer.
The fact of the matter is, you are more than capable, but what you’re experiencing are working conditions that prevent you from operating at your best.
The moment you begin to emotionally distance yourself from your colleagues and work events and become numb to it all you’ve reached peak burnout.
So, what can you do to fix this?
First things first; take some time off. Go to your GP with your symptoms and make a request for some leave so that you can recuperate and manage some of those physical stress symptoms.
Secondly; set yourself a sleep routine and make it something you can look forward to. You may decide that Yoga before bed works for you, or winding down with an app. My personal favourite is to listen to audiobooks and drift off into an easy sleep. But, make sure you’re getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
For the love of all that is holy – hydrate. Make sure you have nutritious food in the house as well as some treats. Don’t overexert yourself with a gruelling exercise routine. I know that being habitually busy can make it easier to ignore the things that are happening around you but it will catch up with you and in a big way.
Who to talk to
Once your body has had time to recharge and rest, book in some time with your HR department so that they can help you manage your workload and manage your managers. Trust me when I tell you that HR is there for you, and a good HR department will always put your needs above the deadlines that your superiors set you.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, reach out. No problem is too big or too small if it is affecting your mental health. Trauma isn’t comparable and is personal to you. You’re deserving of help even if you feel as though you don’t meet the requirement you’ve imagined for yourself.
Don’t be afraid to leave something that no longer serves you. There’s no point in suffering especially when the risk factors are so high. Perpetual burnout and exhaustion can lead to chronic fatigue so you have to take it seriously.
Here are some useful links to resources and people waiting to hear from you:
You’re not just having a hard time, it’s not that you can’t handle the pressures of a high powered job because you are more than capable of smashing it out the park. What you need to remember is that even the most capable, smart and strong people experience burnout when their work environment doesn’t allow for them to flourish.
Listen to your body and your emotions; they’ll be the first ones to tell you when this shit gets out of hand. Allow your alarm bells to ring if things aren’t right – it’s what they’re there for. The quicker you’re able to spot signs of burnout, the quicker you’ll recover from it. Trust me, it takes time.
I suffered a miscarriage as a result of burnout and stress and the experience forced me to change how I valued my physical and mental health. The 70-hour workweek is never worth it.