How to prevent burnout

Ever heard the term ‘stress is the biggest killer?’ Not only does stress affect the mind, it affects the body too. These effects are not only experienced short-term but long-term too.

When the body is under prolonged periods of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion, caused by stress, burnout results.  

You may be on the path to burnout if you can identify with any of these symptoms: 

  1. Constantly feeling overwhelmed
  2. Lost interest or unmotivated to do something that would have normally excited you
  3. Paying attention to your personal and professional life seems like a waste of energy
  4. You spend your day on  mind-numbing tasks rather than focusing on being productive
  5. You battle to focus, are easily distracted when completing a task or procrastinate to get things done
  6. You feel like your effort is not recognised, appreciated, or makes no difference, or you feel detached
  7. You battle to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, or you constantly feel tired
  8. You have a negative attitude towards people around you or your outlook is negative
  9. Your immunity has taken a dive, you constantly feel like you are getting sick, or suffering from more headaches
  10. You start to isolate yourself, and withdraw from those around you

Stress vs burnout

You might have related burnout to a period of too much stress, and once it is over, the burnout will be done. However, this is not the case. 

The key here is too much. Stress results when things become too much. Too much pressure, too much involvement, and too much anxiety, which just takes too much of you physically and mentally. 

On the other hand, burnout is not enough. Not enough caring, not enough energy, not enough motivation. If a person is struggling with burnout, they might not be able to see the positive in a situation. 

For the most part, one is aware when they are under too much stress. On the other hand, a person could be experiencing burnout and not even be aware of it. 

Preventing burnout:

You might have just come to the realisation that you are suffering the effects of burnout, or possibly, you might have been thinking about it for a while, and it has all just become clear to you. 

If you are even considering the possibility that you might be experiencing burnout, it is important to acknowledge it, and not try and push through, hoping it will just disappear. Long-term, burnout can have a disastrous effect on you, physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

It’s not too late, there are changes you can make to prevent burnout.

The 3 R approach:

Recognise: Make sure you are aware of the symptoms of burnout, and if you are experiencing any of them

Reverse: Stop the process now and undo the damage by finding ways to manage your stress. Ensure you have a solid support system

Resilience: Take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health by building your resilience to stress and your coping mechanisms.

You can start including the following tips to prevent burnout:

Exercise: Being physically active is not only good for our general health but also boosts us emotionally. It is also a great way to get rid of any negative emotions like anger, frustration, and disappointment.

Eat a healthy diet:  Did you know that omega-3 is considered to be a natural antidepressant? When you eat foods rich in Omega-3 you can get a natural mood boost. A healthy diet is full of natural vitamins and minerals that can assist to boost the mood. Fast foods and foods rich in processed oils and fats contribute to the stimulation of the cortisol hormone, which is the primary stress hormone in the body. 

Get enough sleep: Poor sleep is a symptom of burnout. Our bodies need to have sufficient rest to reset. Good sleep hygiene is essential for our well-being. Ensure that you are taking the time in the evenings to ensure a proper bedtime routine. Take a relaxing bath to warm the body and avoid screens before bed. The light from screens affects the melatonin level in the body, which is the hormone responsible for sleep. 

Admit when you have had enough: You are not going to disappoint anyone if you simply cannot anymore. If you continue on a path, where your mind and body simply can no longer cope, You will only land up feeling worse. 

Manage your time: Start incorporating methods to manage your time in your day effectively. Ensure that you are setting aside some time for yourself too. 

Take time off when you are feeling ill: A fact of life is that, in some way or another, everybody is replaceable. If you are feeling ill or overwhelmed, take the time for yourself. If you are feeling ill, your body is trying to tell you something, and the primary thing to do when you are ill is to rest. 

Learn to say no: It may be hard, or you may be someone that simply cannot let people down, however, it is important that you learn to say no to people if you simply do not have the capacity to take on something. 

Learn from your mistakes: Sometimes, things might not go according to plan. It is important that you do not stew over the mistakes or let them negatively impact you. You will not get anywhere in life without taking a risk, and sometimes the outcomes are not as we planned. Mistakes can smoulder in our minds and lead to anxiety, regret and ultimately burnout

Stand up for yourself: There is nothing worse than that feeling of ‘I should have’. Failure to stick up for yourself could result in indignation. Process your thoughts and avoid getting caught up in the ‘I should have’ mentality. Do what you think is right, and if it does not require your energy, ensure you are walking away knowing that your actions will not consume you at a later stage. 

Burnout tends to creep up on us quickly, and for the most part unannounced. Burnout can take its toll on your personal and professional life. Allocate more time to yourself, and your mental, physical, and emotional health to avoid feeling like you are not enough! 

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