Everyone will face a time in their life when they feel lost and down on themselves. Often, this can be a result of being burnt out and overworked. The past couple of weeks I have been suffering from a major burn out, that coupled with generally being run down has been a recipe for disaster. I’m currently burning the candle at too many ends…well being honest at the moment, my candle is barely a flicker of light. Even more burdensome is working in an industry where if you’re not working more than 40 hours a week, you’re not working hard enough and its slowly but surely beating me at the moment. Hence my silence on here.
Burnout for me is something which brews and fizzles overtime before reaching its peak which results in me imploding. I have become smarter and started to recognise the beginning of the burnout and how to catch it before it blows over. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to be introspective and honest with myself and realise my limits.
Burn out has become more and more prevalent these days with everyone leading such plugged in lives, meaning we don’t ever switch off fully as we can now work anytime and anywhere. It may seem completely counter-intuitive if your looking to advance your career or climb the career ladder but sometimes we can actually really benefit from slowing down in order to prevent burn out at work. My mum would always advise that it is best to take a day off than to continue fighting something and end up sick and have to check out for a couple of weeks!
What exactly is burnout?
The World Health Organisation classify burnout as a conceptual syndrome “resulting from chronic work place stress that has not been successfully managed”. It is often charachterised by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism relating to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
We have all most likely been hit with one of these three factors at some point in our life – whether it be in our job, personal life or study. Some of the clear signs that you are burning out is:
- lack of time
- lack of energy
- trouble maintaining healthy habits – i.e. living off takeout or express food because you just don’t have time to cook
- interrupted sleep
- being in physical pain – does your back ache because you have spent too much time per week hunched over in a desk or do you feel so run down that parts of your body begin to ache with exhaustion
- feeling overwhelmed
So you now recognise that you’re on the road to a burn out – what next?
Realise your limits
I am the queen of saying yes to everything and taking absolutely everything on! Sometimes though you need to learn to check in with yourself before answering someone, evaluate your capacity at that point in time, and learn to say No! This can be something which is very hard to do, especially in a work place environment but sometimes you need to take a step back and realise your limits.
Cancel those plans
Do you really need to go for those drinks after work or that brunch? Sometimes you just need to cancel plans and prioritise more important things in life such as a good nights sleep.
Schedule just 10 to 15 minutes of personal development time into your calendar
This will allow you to take practical steps in your every day life to keep a level head. Use this time to actually leave your desk or the building if you can and take a walk, breath in some fresh air and listen to music or a podcast. Maybe even read a book!
Get off social media and put that phone away!
Often when we have hit a wall we can easily spend hours on our phone, mindlessly scrolling. Try and take some time away from your phone one evening – put down your phone and pull out a book, put on a face mask, cook a healthy meal and drink some tea!
When you are overwhelmed by everything, starting small is key. Make a list in order of priorities and start small. The list will help you have a brain dump and clear up the fog enabling you to start being productive. Don’t overwhelm yourself too soon though, try ticking off some smaller more attainable things on your list first. It can be something as simple as replying to an email or organising something in your room or office.
Declutter your personal space
I often find that my room can often reflect my mood and current stage of overwhelmedness. This tip applies more to people who either work or study from home. Start the day by taking some time to tidying up your space. If you work in an office, there’s nothing more calming than coming home to a clean space!
When I am overwhelmed, exercise it the first thing to get kicked off my list even though it helps me immensely. Get up early and get your workout in to kick start your day, it’ll get your endorphins going, energy up and give you a slight smug sense of accomplishment!
Take a day!
Sometimes you just need a day where you step away from everything. For me, that was spending this weekend in my parents house! Yes it was a busy weekend spent painting, tidying and baking but it was also a refreshing weekend in a new space spent relaxing and catching up with family. I know not everyone may have a ‘home’ environment they can go to but sometimes its a mentality – the main thing is to step away from your work, spend time with people you enjoy, eat well, rest up and do something that brings you joy!
Finally, take a step back, pause, breath and be grateful!
Sometimes its some of the best things in your life that create stress. I know I give out about the amount of study I have to do on top of working full time but when I take a step back and take everything in I am grateful to be able to be in the position I am in both professionally and educationally. As well as that, taking a step back, thinking about how big the world is and the number of people who share your struggles helps me realise that I am not just flying solo here.