Do you feel exhausted most of the time?
Are you losing your passion for work and life? Are you finding yourself overwhelmed by even the simplest of tasks?
Do you struggle to pull yourself together when you wake in the morning? Do you often feel tearful and unable to cope?
Yes? Then you may be on the verge of burnout, or sadly, even there.
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion which leaves you feeling at rock bottom, alone and unable to cope. It’s utterly miserable and not something you can put right with a couple of early nights. You feel hopeless, empty and isolated and you seriously struggle to function.
Why Does Burnout Happen?
Why does it happen? Typically, it happens to the people who throw everything they have at life and career and are driven to succeed. It can also happen when you’re experiencing on-going, relentless pressure which leaves you feeling as if you have little control. In both cases it’s about being stuck in ‘always on’ – a state where you don’t take the time for recovery and rebalance.
The good news is that with a few changes to the way you eat, drink and think you can prevent burnout. It means you taking action though; sadly there’s no magic pill! Here are some of my top tips but there’s lots more in my new best-selling book, ‘How to Prevent Burnout’.
1. Be mindful of your physical, mental and emotional being
Listen to what your body is telling you. Stress has a big impact on your mind and body so if you’re experiencing any health issues, that’s the sign you need to take action. Taking regular health checks is a good preventative measure.
2. Identify your stress triggers
Reflect on the challenges you may be experiencing. Why are they a challenge, how are you reacting, what effect is this having on you, and how can you change the situation?
3. Eat well and regularly
Eat foods that build your strength and resilience such as good quality protein, wholegrains and vegetables, and keep well hydrated with water.
4. Exercise regularly
It rebalances the effects of high levels of stress hormones and makes you feel happier and more positive. A word of warning though. If you feel that you’re sliding into burnout then avoid exercise that may stress you further. This would include endurance training and highly competitive team sport.
5. Take regular breaks from intense work
We can only sustain intense work for so long so to remain productive take a ten-minute break every hour and do something completely different. Use this time to have a chat with someone, flick through some emails or walk around the office. It will recharge you.
6. Manage digital technology
Don’t allow it to control you. Social media, emails, computers, phones all sap your time, are addictive and over stimulate the mind which makes it harder to switch off.
7. Do everything you can to get a good night’s sleep
This is the time you process emotions from the day and clean and refresh brain tissue. Just one broken night triggers the stress response. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark and switch off digital technology at least ninety minutes before bedtime.
8. Learn to say no
You don’t have to say yes to anything you do not have the capacity to fulfil. Prioritise your activities. What is important now and what can you put aside for another time?
9. Have fun and laugh
It’s the best medicine. This means spending time with family and friends. If you find you’re starting to refuse social invitations, then this may be an indication that you’re becoming stuck in ‘always on’ and in a dangerous place.
10.If you need it, get help
Things can’t always be solved alone. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You are in this situation because of how hard you work. There’s lots out there to support you. Your company may subscribe to a confidential counselling helpline (EAP service) or your GP could recommend services to support you.
About the author
Susan Scott is a business psychologist, nutritional therapist, trainer, consultant and coach, as well as a public speaker and an author.
Her book, How To Have An Outstanding Career, redefines what a career is for today’s Young Professionals and provides a unique new perspective to encourage the reader to consider their own career as a climbing frame rather than the traditional ladder.