Mental Health

5 Must-Dos for People Experiencing Burnout

burnout Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Work has always brought various stressors with it. You’ve got deadlines to meet, tasks to complete and, of course, all the office drama that grates on your nerves. The human brain can only handle high stress levels for so long before it starts reaching burnout. Once you come to that point, what can you do to pull yourself out of it?

Here are some must-dos if you find yourself experiencing burnout

burnout signs

1.  Recognize the Signs

The first step to managing burnout is to learn to recognize the signs. It’s easier to fix a problem if you know its existence. The precise symptoms of burnout will vary from person to person, but if you start experiencing some of these, you might need help. Common signs of burnout include:

  • Perpetual exhaustion and fatigue
  • Frequent illnesses or issues with your immune system
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Feeling like a failure
  • Drowning in self-doubt, helplessness or feeling trapped
  • Little to no motivation
  • No sense of accomplishment
  • Withdrawing from other people or isolating yourself
  • Procrastination
  • Utilizing unhealthy coping mechanisms like food, alcohol or drugs

We all feel stress, and it can negatively impact our lives. However, when it starts interfering with your work, it might be time to look into ways to avoid or remedy your impending burnout.

2.  Set Your Boundaries

Remote work became necessary during the pandemic, but it’s still an excellent option for people worldwide. Unfortunately, working from home can make it more challenging to keep your work and personal lives separate. This becomes even more challenging when your co-workers insist on messaging you outside job hours — and demanding you respond as quickly as possible.

If you’re experiencing burnout, take the time to set your boundaries and reinforce your work/life balance. When you’re done for the day, shut off your phone, close your laptop and leave any other tasks until your next shift. Sticking to your boundaries might not win you any friends, but it can help you maintain your well-being and prevent burnout.

3.  Prioritize Self-Care

self-care after burnout warm bath

Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword, but taking care of yourself is essential if you hope to mitigate the damage that burnout can do. We’re not just talking about taking an extra day off from work or spending money on a fancy face mask, though those can certainly help. Little things can help you manage stress and prevent burnout, from improving the foods you eat to spending time outside or exercising more often. Studies have shown that taking a break in nature can boost your productivity by 45%, so going outside during your lunch time is a great place to start.

The point is to prioritize yourself rather than putting all your energy and focus into work. Don’t neglect your duties, but don’t let them take precedence over your health and well-being.

4.  Change Your Perspective

Many work stressors are out of our control, but what about the things you can change? Sometimes all you need is a new perspective. Take a close look at your work duties and responsibilities. What processes can you alter to help prevent burnout in the future? Which obligations could you delegate to take some weight off your shoulders?

Changing your perspective could help inspire positive change in the workplace that can help mitigate the impact of your current burnout. It can also prevent it from becoming an issue in the future.

5.  Consider More Than Just Vacation

A vacation should be a chance to get away from work and recharge. It is not the solution to burnout, especially in the United States, where paid time off isn’t guaranteed. Taking a week or two away is great until you remember you have to head back to the office afterward and face all the issues that were pushing you toward burnout in the first place.

Don’t let this scare you away from taking a vacation, but don’t use that as your only fix for burnout.

Ban the Burnout

ban the burnout

Work is stressful, and for many, working through the pandemic pushed them that much closer to burnout. Take the time to set your boundaries and prioritize yourself and your work-life balance. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to help you prevent burnout, but there are steps you can take to help prevent it from negatively impacting your life.


References

Leiter M.P. (1992). Burn-out as a crisis in self-efficacy: Conceptual and practical implications. Work & Stress, 6, 2, 107-115.

Roberts G. A. (1997). Prevention of burn-out. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. 3, 5, 282-289.

Maslach C., Leiter M.P. (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry, 15, 2, 103–111.

Koutsimani P., Montgomery A., Georganta K.(2019). The Relationship Between Burnout, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 10,  284.


Swinburn University of Technology: What does burnout look like?

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