Burnout – we’ve all heard about it and the risk we run of experiencing it due to our mile-a-minute lifestyles. But what exactly is burnout? What causes it and what does it actually look like?
Burnout is a common health issue these days and the best way to deal with it is to try and prevent it from occurring in the first place. By understanding what burnout is and what causes it, we can be better prepared to stop it before it starts.
Read on to learn more about burnout and how you can deal with it.
In this article, we’ll cover:
What is Burnout?
Burnout refers to a state of complete exhaustion that is experienced by people who have endured extreme and prolonged stress. The term was coined by Herbert Freudenberger in 1974 when he wrote a book called Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement.
Those experiencing burnout often feel overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless and emotionally and mentally exhausted. A lack of motivation and disinterest in things that once seemed exciting are also common. People experiencing burnout often become ineffective at work and exhibit cynicism and negativity.
In addition to the emotional effects of burnout, physical effects are also common. These include exhaustion and other physical changes that make someone who is experiencing burnout more susceptible to common illnesses.
What Are The Symptoms of Burnout?
The symptoms of burnout occur gradually. Therefore, it is important to identify potential signs as early as possible in order to address any issues and make changes to prevent a complete breakdown.
Common signs and symptoms of burnout include:
- Extreme fatigue and lack of energy
- Mental and physical exhaustion
- Frequent illness
- Muscle aches
- Stomach aches
- Loss of appetite
- Abuse of food, drugs and/or alcohol
- Lack of motivation
- Negativity and cynicism
- Isolation and distancing from others (especially work colleagues)
- Decreased productivity
- Increased errors at work
- Increased absenteeism
- Increased frustration
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of creativity
- Poor attitude
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs of burnout, you should seek medical attention immediately. Ignoring the issue can lead to even more extreme mental and physical effects.
10 Ways to Deal With Burnout
The most effective approach for dealing with burnout is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. However, if that isn’t possible, there are many strategies for dealing with it once burnout has occurred.
Here are 10 strategies that can help you to deal with burnout:
1. Open up to family and friends
A lot of stress can be relieved by talking to others. Start with a good listener that you know and discuss the issues that are causing you the most anxiety. This doesn’t mean that they will be able to fix all of your problems for you but having someone to listen and discuss things with you can make you feel a lot better.
For example, if you’re having a problem with your boss or another co-worker, confide in your best friend. Tell them about the situation and discuss it with them. Getting everything off of your chest can go a long way to reducing stress, helping you feel better and possibly even offering a solution you hadn’t thought of.
2. Focus on making friends with your coworkers
Having friends at work can help a lot in preventing and even dealing with burnout. Having someone to talk to, confide in and collaborate with at work can help to reduce pressure and even make your job more fun and fulfilling. When there are problems at work, having someone to talk to is essential for ensuring that you aren’t harboring negativity, unable to get it off your chest.
So, for example, make the effort to arrange social events with one, or more, of your work colleagues. Arrange a wine and cheese night. See a movie together. Socializing outside of work will bring you closer and make you more comfortable sharing your feelings about what is going on in the workplace.
How often you spend time with your coworkers outside of work is a result of company and workplace culture. Work culture can affect more than just productivity. Having an inclusive, welcoming and safe company culture will not only make up your team’s productivity, it’ll also make coming in to work enjoyable!
3. Avoid negative people
Do you have a few people in your life who are always negative and complaining? We all do! Constantly listening to your negative friends, family and coworkers can negatively impact your thoughts and feelings.
While negative people are hard to get away from entirely (do it if you can!), it is best for you and your mental health to stay away. If you do have a negative person or people in your life, try to limit the time that you spend with them. A quick chat or visit every now and then shouldn’t do too much harm but try to limit this as much as possible.
4. Take a break
Take some time off work and take a vacation – relax, refresh and rejuvenate. While a vacation and time away won’t solve all your problems at work it can be a good thing for your mental and physical health.
More importantly, make sure to take regular breaks at work and to avoid working non-stop. If your work schedule is flexible, ensure you start and stop work at regular times to keep you from working steady and burning yourself out.
For example, schedule a few short breaks throughout the day and engage in some physical or mindfulness exercises. This will help by giving you a quick boost and recharging you throughout the day so you can better deal with stressful situations.
A change of scenery may be just what you need to refresh your mind and body. See what our Senior Digital Marketer Mark Galvao has to say about living the digital nomad life and his experiences in “4 Months as a Digital Nomad: Travelling with Senior Digital Marketer Mark Galvao.”
5. Take time to exercise
Physical exercise has many health benefits, including the ability to boost your mood. Exercise is also a great way to combat stress and frustration. Although it may be difficult to get yourself to get up, get out and do it, exercise is a very helpful means of dealing with burnout.
Thirty minutes, or more, of exercise per day can boost your mood and improve your general health overall. Studies suggest that breaking down these thirty minutes into shorter periods, of five or ten minutes, is also effective if you can’t do it all at once.
Try take a break from work during the day and go for a five or ten minute walk. The exercise will give you a mental break from work, provide the physical exercise your body needs and decrease stress and boost your mood.
6. Focus on hobbies
Whether you have a favorite hobby that you don’t seem to have time for anymore or not, make some time to focus on a hobby or pastime. Pick up your previous hobby or try something new. Hobbies are important for you mental well-being and are very helpful in reducing stress and taking your mind off of the stressors at work.
For example, do something creative! Start a new art project or pick up something you previously left off. In addition to the hobby itself, creativity can be a great way to combat burnout.
7. Make time for relaxation
Don’t be fooled – true relaxation does not mean lounging on the couch watching Netflix. While this may seem relaxing, watching tv does not help you to truly address your anxiety. True relaxation means activating your relaxation response. This can be done with the help of techniques like meditation and deep breathing. These activities help to reduce stress, slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.
For example, do some deep breathing every day before or after work to help you clam your mind and body and ease any stress you are feeling. There are many tools and techniques available to help guide you through deep breathing exercises but, basically, deep breathing can be achieved by:
- Sitting or lying in a comfortable position
- Putting one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest
- Taking a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. *Do this 3 to 10 times.
- Playing with an office pet
8. Improve your diet
You can improve both your mood and energy levels by eating clean, healthy food, reducing sugar, caffeine and trans fats and minimizing the preservatives and hormones in the food you’re eating. Avoiding nicotine and drinking alcohol in moderation can also be helpful for reducing stress and helping you to address burnout.
Some companies such as Google, Pixar and SAP offer free lunch to their employees. Options may include catering or an in-house cafeteria with healthy options such as salad bars as well as access to gym facilities.
At work, try to reduce your sugar intake by cutting back on sweets and sugary drinks. Sugar can give you a quick energy and mood boost but this will be short lived. Once the sugar high wears off, you’ll experience a crash in your energy and mood – not a great outcome when dealing with burnout.
9. Volunteer in your community
Find something that is meaningful to you and get involved in your community. Participating in something meaningful to you will help you find purpose and can even help by providing an opportunity to connect with like-minded people and make new friends.
For example, join a local group that provides food to the homeless. Attending a weekly (or more frequent) activity will give you something to look forward to and will provide you with a sense of purpose.
10. Reevaluate your priorities
Take some time to reflect on yourself – where are you at, what are your goals and dreams and what changes might you need to make? Evaluating your goals and priorities and getting back on track where necessary can give you a sense of accomplishment and ease your stress.
If your job is too stressful and is not aligning with your sense of self anymore, it may ultimately be time to move on. Have you neglected a past goal? Consider trying a new career path that is more fulfilling and in line with your priorities.
Key Takeaways On How to Deal With Burnout
Burnout can be a very serious issue that is faced when someone is under extreme stress at work or even in their personal life.
Are you feeling exhausted both mentally and physically? Are you overwhelmed and uninterested in your usual work and activities? You could be burned out.
While avoiding burnout all together is the best way to deal with it, there are many strategies for addressing burnout once it occurs.
Here are 10 strategies to help you if you are burned out or on the the road to burning out:
- Talk to your friends and family about the stressors in your work and personal life. Confiding in someone can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
- Make friends with your coworkers. Doing so will allow you to have someone to confide in at work and discuss daily issues with.
- Avoid the negative people in your life as much as possible.
- Take a vacation and don’t forget to take short breaks at work throughout the day to rest your mind and body.
- Improve your mood and energy levels by getting regular exercise.
- Make sure to spend some personal time doing hobbies you love. Creative activities can be especially helpful in reducing stress and addressing burnout.
- Make time for relaxation. Do some yoga or deep breathing as a way to truly relax and bring down your stress levels.
- Improve your diet by eating healthy, avoiding nicotine and drinking in moderation.
- Get involved with something you love in your community. Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and bring you joy.
- Reevaluate your priorities and make sure your life aligns with your sense of self, goals and dreams.
Whether you are currently facing burnout or are on the road to it, these tips will help you establish new ways of reducing stress and lifting your spirits.