Burnt out image
Well Being

Strategies for dealing with symptoms of burnout and boosting business success

  • June 22, 2023

How can you tell if you are burnt out or stressed out?

Burnt-out and stressed-out – very different beasts. While being stressed-out is well-known and understood, including the link between stress and decreased health outcomes, the consequences and symptoms of burnout are not. Let’s get the conversation started, heighten awareness and get people stamping out the fire before it consumes anything more.

Understanding Burnout

What is burnout?

Burnout is a “state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”.

Burnout symptoms
Burnout symptoms

What are the symptoms of burnout? The symptoms of burnout can have you thinking and feeling like this:

> Feeling overwhelmed
> Increase in headaches
> Changes in your gut – stomach aches
> Feelings of self-doubt
> Loss of motivation
> Feeling exhausted and Sleep doesn’t help feeling less exhausted
> Negative thoughts and outlook on life in general
> A sense of hopelessness or decreased sense of purpose
>This doesn’t just apply to work but touches every area of your life

Feeling overwhelmed
Feeling Overwhelmed can be a symptom of burnout

Why are We Suddenly Getting Burnt Out like Never Before?

What are the causes? Well-known and respected social psychologist and professor emerita of psychology at the University of California, Christina Maslach, was quoted in the Harvest Business Review article about burnout, regarding her survey of 7,500 full-time employees by Gallup, which found the main causes for burnout are:

> Unfair treatment at work
> Unmanageable workload
> Lack of role clarity
> Lack and communication and support from their manager
> Unreasonable time pressure

What is the Potential Personal Cost if we Ignore the Symptoms of Burnout and Battle on Through?

Prevention is key. The thing is, if you practice self-care, positivity, and ensure you’re doing all you can to preserve your drive for success, passion for your work, and energy to complete excellent work, that’s step number one, and honestly, well done. However, this sometimes still isn’t enough to stop it if you’re really pushed at work for long enough. You need to set personal boundaries at work, and if your place of work keeps crossing those, you may need to consider having a chat with your manager or supervisor or look elsewhere before all the extra things required of you pile up and become personal.

Setting boundaries

Setting boundaries in place at work, whether you are the boss or the newest employee is crucial. Some boundaries that can help prevent symptoms of burnout are:

> Not working unpaid overtime
> Taking days off when sick
> Not working from home while you’re sick
> Saying no to extra requests when your schedule is full
> Taking your breaks
> Not accepting intimidating or bullying culture (seek help or consider change)
> Always having set goals agreed upon by you and your manager
> Making sure the work that you’re expected to complete is not above or below your ability
>Having a good understanding of what is expected of you
>Having enough time to complete tasks

Self care
Self-care is an important step in preventing burnout

Here are some practical steps to self-care for preventing or combating the symptoms of burnout:

> Drink plenty of water
> Get some sunshine and fresh air every day (even 2 minutes!)
> Eat regular, nutritious meals
> Seek truth over your negative thoughts and feelings by confiding in a loved one or close friend, or seek professional help to discuss this further
> Make some quiet time each week for you to do something just for you, something that you know you love (and maybe haven’t given yourself time for recently)
> Some ideas could be painting, fishing, playing guitar, dancing, reading, singing, taking photos, or heading to the beach.
> Try to go to bed earlier, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
> Stretch or go for a walk to move your body.
> Listen to educational, uplifting, or interesting podcasts, TED talks, audiobooks, and switch off the screens and social media.
> Ask for help. It’s hard, but so effective. It doesn’t have to be forever, but getting some help, even if it’s only a tiny request or delegation, can take a huge chunk off your mental load!
> Discuss it with your boss, see what could be done differently, and if this isn’t an option, consider what changes and boundaries you can set.
> Book regular annual leave or breaks
> Have something that you can genuinely look forward to and be delighted about when the date arrives. For example, visiting a friend, buying a special item, going on a trip, or having a day to yourself.

If you have a trusted colleague, try discussing it with them and getting the conversation started to foster a supportive and inclusive work culture. If you’re feeling this way, chances are others are too, and just knowing this can be a relief. Plus, you can support each other.

Feeling great
Feel good

Takeaway points

> Everyone has the right to be safe and thrive in their place of work. We spend the majority of our waking lives there, so it’s important that the environment is healthy. Burnout is still a relatively new term for many people, so discussing the term and the symptoms of burnout, as well as how to prevent it, is a great conversation to start having with friends, family, and colleagues alike.

> Prioritising well-being at work offers employees healthier options, increasing staff satisfaction and productivity, while decreasing staff turnover, the human toll of burnout, as well as the financial cost. It can be done by helping people feel recognised, involved, and valued, which goes a long way in decreasing staff symptoms of burnout and improving overall satisfaction.

> Setting boundaries with work to create a winning work-life (life-work?) balance can be the difference between burning out and staying healthy. Practising regular self-care and asking for help when you need it are also key to putting out the fire on the symptoms of burnout.

So today, set some boundaries, practice self-care, start the conversation, and may you enjoy and thrive in your work!

Written by Theresa from Little Pocket

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