Burnout can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. It can make it difficult to focus, stay motivated, and get things done. But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are many effective strategies on how to cope with burnout that can help you manage your stress levels and get back on track.
In this post, we’ll explore seven strategies on how to cope with burnout, so you can start feeling better today.
What is burnout?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), burnout is a condition that results from chronic workplace stress and has not been properly addressed. It is marked by feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Burnout can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life and well-being if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
Burnout does not happen overnight. It occurs gradually and gets worse over time. You may be suffering from burnout if you notice the following signs and symptoms:
Physical symptoms of burnout
- Constant feeling of tiredness
- Decreased energy levels
- Frequent headaches, body pains, and illnesses
- Sleep disturbances
- Appetite changes
Emotional symptoms of burnout
- Being cynical or having a distrustful attitude or negative outlook towards your work, colleagues, and the organisation you are working for
- Feelings of loneliness and detachment
- Feeling helpless, frustrated, and trapped
- Feeling depressed and less motivated
- Decreased sense of accomplishment
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Increased absenteeism
- Decreased productivity
- Isolating and withdrawing from social activities
- Taking anger and frustration on others
- Overeating and using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress
- Absences, tardiness, and working undertime
- Reduced concentration
- Difficulty in making decisions
While these symptoms are common in burnout, they can also indicate other conditions. It is better to consult a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.
What are the causes of burnout?
Many factors may cause burnout, varying from person to person. However, it typically stems from working too hard for too long without taking care of ourselves.
Below are some common causes of burnout:
- Prolonged and excessive stress: Exposure to high-stress levels for a long time can lead to burnout, especially in demanding work environments.
- Lack of control and autonomy: Burnout may also arise if you feel like you have little control over your work and decision-making processes.
- Poor work-life balance: When work consumes a significant amount of your time and energy, it can lead to burnout and negatively affect your personal life.
- Unrealistic expectations and demands: Expecting too much from yourself or having unrealistic demands placed by others can contribute to burnout.
- Poor support systems: A lack of support from colleagues, supervisors, or family members can increase your risk of burnout.
- Personal factors: Previous traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, a tendency towards perfectionism, and other personal factors can also increase your risk of burnout.
To cope with and avoid burnout, it’s important to recognise the above causes that lead up to this state and take steps to prevent them.
Importance of addressing burnout
Burnout is a serious issue many of us face, yet it too often goes overlooked or unmentioned. It’s important to recognise and address this emotional state before it spirals into something worse. When left untreated, burnout can escalate and lead to more serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
When you address burnout, you will also experience a better quality of life. Your physical, emotional, and mental health will improve. You will begin to have better relationships with the people around you. Finally, you will experience increased productivity and improved satisfaction with work and personal life.
Strategies on how to cope with burnout
You may find it hard to know how to cope with burnout, especially when the pressure keeps piling up and there’s no end in sight. The good news, however, is that there are strategies we can use to manage burnout.
1. Identify the source of burnout.
Discovering the root cause of burnout is crucial to make effective changes.
Do you have a demanding job or academic schedule? Do you have ongoing relationship problems? Are you caring for a loved one with a chronic illness? Are you attempting to manage too many responsibilities without adequate support?
These stresses may be manageable on their own. Still, they can easily overwhelm you when combined, and you fail to manage them and seek support.
Once you explore and understand what’s been causing your burnout, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
2. Prioritise self-care
Prioritising self-care is an effective way to improve work-life balance and prevent burnout. Self-care activities and habits can promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Some ways to prioritise self-care to avoid burnout include exercising regularly, getting enough quality sleep, and eating a balanced diet. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation can also help reduce stress and manage burnout.
3. Create boundaries
Excessive commitments can overwhelm you. To avoid burnout, try to ask yourself the following questions before accepting an invitation:
- What will be required of me if I agree?
- Do I really have the time and energy to do what is expected of me?
- What value will I get out of it?
Remember that saying no does not mean you are being selfish or lazy. Setting limits and boundaries can help you focus on commitments that truly matter and help prevent burnout.
4. Manage your time well.
Managing your time effectively can help prevent burnout by reducing stress and increasing work-life balance. Here are some ways that managing your time can help avoid burnout:
- Prioritising tasks: Prioritise tasks based on their importance and urgency to avoid being overwhelmed.
- Limiting distractions: Focus on one task at a time and limit distractions to help reduce stress and increase productivity.
- Taking breaks: Take regular breaks to rest, recharge, and help reduce stress.
- Leave your work at work: Prioritise your work-life balance by not bringing your work home or elsewhere. Rest, relax, and recharge for the next day to help manage burnout.
- Setting realistic expectations: Set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in a given day or week to prevent burnout.
- Avoiding over-scheduling: Over-scheduling can lead to feeling overwhelmed and increased stress, so be sure to schedule accordingly.
5. Re-evaluate and reduce workload.
Evaluating your workload and reducing it is crucial to dealing with burnout. Ask yourself if you can still manage the tasks given to you. Are you still physically and mentally capable of doing them? If the answers are no, consider talking to your supervisor. Also, consider delegating tasks to coworkers or outsourcing where appropriate to help reduce workload and prevent burnout.
6. Seek support.
Seeking support from your loved ones, mental health professionals, and workplace resources can help you cope with burnout. Reaching out to your coworkers, family, and friends can give you emotional support and help reduce your stress. Meanwhile, health professionals and employee assistance programs can provide valuable resources for managing burnout.
7. Other tips
The following tips can also help manage and prevent burnout:
- Accept imperfection and that it is okay to make mistakes.
- Practice self-compassion. Be kind and understanding to yourself.
- Seek meaning and purpose in work and life.
So there you have it, folks! Burnout is a real issue that affects many of us, but we can overcome it with the right strategies and support. From prioritising self-care to creating boundaries and seeking support, there are plenty of ways to improve our work-life balance and prevent burnout. The fact that you are reading this post means you are taking the first step to managing burnout and regaining control of your life.
Just remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority. Don’t be afraid to seek help and make positive changes in your life. After all, a balanced and healthy life is key to success and happiness.