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How to Deal With Burnout

The extreme pressures of 'always on' work cultures today cause stress and burnout in professionals.

A Deloitte survey of 1,000 full-time US professionals examines the causes and impacts of employee burnout, while also revealing the benefits and programs employees believe can prevent or alleviate burnout, compared to what their companies are currently providing.

More than half of respondents say they have experienced employee burnout at their current job, with 77 percent stating more than one instance. Additionally, the survey revealed that employers may be missing the mark when it comes to developing well-being programs that their employees find valuable.

The effects of burnout on mental health can be serious - they are risk factors for depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. Often, burnout affects entire workplaces and can be contagious.

Are you at risk of burnout?

Sometimes we feel helpless, overburdened, or unappreciated when just getting out of bed seems impossibleBurnout, however, it occurs if you constantly feel like this.

Burnout develops gradually. There is no quick fix to it, but you can fall victim to it if you are not careful. As time goes on, the signs and symptoms become more pronounced. It is important to pay attention to the early symptoms as they are red flags that something is wrong. Stress can lead to a major breakdown if you don't pay attention and take steps to reduce it. Ignoring them will eventually lead to burnout.

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout.

  • Feeling drained and tired almost all the time.

  • There is a decreased immunity and frequent illness.

  • Headaches or muscle pain that occurs frequently.

  • Sleeping or eating habits change.

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout.

  • Feelings of failure and self-doubt.

  • Feeling trapped, defeated, and helpless.

  • A sense of detachment and loneliness.

  • There is a decrease in satisfaction and accomplishment.

  • A lack of motivation.

  • A more cynical and negative outlook.

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout.

  • Abandoning responsibilities.

  • Self-isolation.

  • Taking longer to complete tasks due to procrastination.

  • Coping with stress by eating, using drugs, or drinking alcohol.

  • Taking out one's frustrations on someone else.

  • Coming in late and leaving early or skipping work.

Find the source of your burnout.

Making changes is tough when you don't know what needs to change, but you can find relief by identifying contributing factors or sources of stress.

A job's increasingly demanding nature often triggers burnout, as is the stress that comes with it. It is also possible to experience burnout if you are:

  • Maintaining a rigorous academic schedule

  • Managing relationship problems, especially ones that don't seem to have a solution

  • Taking care of a loved one with a serious or chronic illness

In short, burnout thrives in environments created by doing too much on your own.

Imagine that you are a single parent with a full-time job, taking online classes, and keeping up with friends and family. While each factor can be manageable on its own, when combined they can easily overwhelm you if you don't get the help you need.

Schedule time for self-care.

One of the leading causes of burnout is a lack of self-care. In spite of this, many people believe they lack the time.

It might be a good idea to start small if that describes you.

You do not have to spend an hour a day on it. Spending 10 minutes a day practicing mindfulness, writing in a gratitude journal, or engaging in guided visualization can accomplish this. The important thing is to allocate time for yourself for self-care.

Depending on your needs, you might spend that dedicated time differently. But, a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate sleep are good places to start, states Midwestern University.

Shift your perspective.

"While rest, relaxation, and replenishment can ease exhaustion, curb cynicism, and enhance efficacy, they don’t fully address the root causes of burnout, writes Monique Valcour for HBR. You may still face the same impossible workload, untenable conflicts, or paltry resources back at the office. "So now you must take a close look at your mindset and assumptions. What aspects of your situation are truly fixed, and which can you change?"

When you alter your perspective, even the inflexible aspects can be mitigated, adds Vakcour. For example, if you feel exhausted, consider delegating important tasks to free up time and energy for other important work if exhaustion is a major issue.

She also suggests that you answer the following questions:

  • Would you like to gain more control or focus on the most fulfilling tasks in your job?

  • How can you reengage with your specific role and the overall organization if you are cynical?

  • Could you build some supportive, positive relationships to counteract the draining ones?

  • Is there anything you can do to help if you feel ineffective? Could you use personal branding to promote your work if recognition is lacking?

Seek out other people for help.

In times of burnout, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it's difficult to even care about yourself, let alone take action. However, you are much more in control of stress than you believe. To relieve overwhelm and get your life back in balance, you can take positive steps. A helpful step you can take is to open up to others.

A skilled listener can help calm your nervous system and relieve stress, as social contact is nature's antidote to stress. You don't need the person you talk to to "fix" your stressors; they just have to be attentive listeners, able to listen attentively without becoming distracted.

  • Don't hesitate to reach out to your family, friends, and partner. Those around you won't find you burdensome if you open up. It will only strengthen your friendship if you trust them enough to confide in them. Most friends and loved ones will be flattered that you trust them that much. Focus on making the time you spend with loved ones enjoyable and positive instead of thinking about what's burning you out.

  • Become more social with your coworkers. A friendship with a co-worker can prevent you from burning out at your job. During a break, for example, engage your colleagues rather than your smartphone. After work, you can arrange social events with your colleagues.

  • Keep your contact with negative people to a minimum. If you spend all your time around people who complain, your mood and outlook will be dragged down. Don't spend too much time with a negative person if you have to work with them.

  • Join a cause or a community group you care about. It is possible to make new friends and learn how to cope with stress by joining a religious, social, or support group. Professional associations in your field may allow you to attend meetings and interact with colleagues who face similar challenges at work.

  • Make new friends. You can always make new friends and expand your social network if you don't feel like you have anyone to turn to.

Regain control.

It is possible to feel powerless when you are burnt out. There may be times when you feel like life is rushing by and you can't keep up with it.

The circumstances outside of your control might have contributed to burnout, so you may not be able to see what you can do to resolve the problem.

While you may not have been able to control what led you to this point, you have the power to get back in control now and begin the process of recharging.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Prioritize. While some tasks must be completed immediately, others can wait until you have more time. Put aside the tasks you find less important.

  • Delegate. It's impossible to accomplish everything yourself, so delegate tasks you can't handle to someone you can trust if more than you can handle need to be addressed immediately.

  • Set boundaries. Avoid overextending yourself. It's important to learn how to say "no" to requests that occupy your time. Remember that saying "no" allows you to commit to the things you want.

  • Leave work at work. It is important to learn how to prioritize work-life balance in order to recover from burnout. You should take time to relax and recharge after work.

  • Make sure you are clear about your needs. Inform those involved of what's happening. Tell them you need support to manage your workload and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The best resources for overcoming burnout.

You should seek additional help if you cannot manage burnout, it has lasted for six months or longer, or it has impaired your ability to function. At any time you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should call 988 right away.

The following resources may be helpful.

  • Support Groups. Support groups and religious groups can help you connect with others who are experiencing similar difficulties and want to listen. You may want to try the online community 7 Cups as well. People can provide advice and listen to you about what's stressing you.

  • Guided Meditation Apps. Using apps like Calm can help you recognize and separate from your daily stress by providing guided visualizations and progressive muscle relaxation. Waking Up and Headspace are also popular options.

  • Therapy. A therapist can help you make changes to your boundaries and habits over time, and determine if you're dealing with something more than burnout. Many burnout symptoms overlap with depression symptoms.

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