“Burnout” – a buzzword that is often used for quite some time now. But what do we understand about it? Do we even know what causes burnout? Is it just stress or is it more than that? 

Summer and school break has just ended and kids are now back at school and the real-life routine for many has now kicked back in. School pick-ups and drop-offs, a busy work schedule, extracurricular activities, managing a busy household and a stressful job and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy at both work and home can be daunting. 

Many parents tend to feel overwhelmed juggling their jobs while being a parent plus thinking about activities for the kids over the weekend and what to cook for the family and lunchboxes. It sounds very “normal” to many people but in reality, most parents feel overwhelmed by the pressure to keep up with the many responsibilities and the stress of trying to juggle everything and this can lead to burnout.

However, burnout doesn’t just apply to parents. Burnout is increasingly common and can affect anyone, from busy executives in high-stress jobs to stay-at-home parents. It’s vital to be aware of a recognised burnout, what it is, how it can affect you, and the steps both you and those around you can take to help mitigate against this.

 

Definition of Burnout

Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that can obliterate the joy out of your career or relationships. It is a syndrome conceptualized resulting from chronic stress that has not been successfully managed.

 

Who gets burnout?

Put simply, burnout does not discriminate and can happen to anyone.  Individuals in high-stress environments for long periods are more at risk of experiencing burnout. This means that burnout can be experienced by anybody regardless of the job, the situation in life, or financial standing.

 

Types of Burnout

Prolonged stress can lead to a host of mental and physical symptoms over time. Burnout is caused by many things and the most common burnout syndrome is caused by feeling overworked, pressured, deadlines, conflicts with colleagues or family members, or long-standing unresolved situations that increase stress. Whatever the underlying cause is, most people tend to neglect their own needs that result in burnout.

 

 

Three basic classifications for burnout syndrome:

Overload burnout
This type of burnout is a result of endless work in trying to achieve success that is mostly related to career or personal aspirations in life. Most people experiencing this rarely sleep or take a time off and step away from their obligations and responsibilities. These individuals are willing to sacrifice their health, life, happiness, and relationships to reach their professional and personal ambitions. Some of them are not aware that what they are doing is consuming all of them and it affects their physical and mental health which leads to unhealthy behavior.
Under-challenge burnout
This is the kind of burnout that is opposite to overload. People experiencing this type of burnout find little to no fulfillment or happiness in their day to day activities including work and personal life. Under-challenged burnout can be caused by several factors that include boredom resulting from a lack of motivation and learning opportunities and feeling unappreciated or undervalued. Oftentimes, these individuals become misanthropic which can then lead to avoiding responsibilities and can be detached from everything. As a result, a lot of arguments and disagreements can arise in the workplace or respective relationships.
Neglect burnout
This kind of burnout is the result of feeling helpless, might it be in their professional or personal life. People who experience this burnout may think and feel that they are not capable of executing their responsibilities and obligations in their personal or professional life. It can lead someone to have a decrease in motivation and is often the case of unresolved issues. 

Symptoms of burnout

Burnout can appear and develop differently in different people, however, there are a number of common emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms related to burnout.

 

Physical signs and
symptoms
  • Frequently feeling fatigued, exhausted and or drained
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits
  • Consistent headaches and or muscle pain
  • Frequent sickness and or compromised immunity
Emotional signs and
symptoms
  • Feeling helpless, defeated and or trapped
  • Feeling detached or alone
  • Cynical or negative feelings
  • Feelings of failure or doubt
  • Little or no motivation
  • Feeling a lack of satisfaction or accomplishment
Behavioral signs and
symptoms
  • Neglecting or avoiding responsibilities
  • Self-isolation
  • Turning to food, alcohol or drugs to help cope
  • Procrastination

Is burnout the result of pandemic affliction or is it self-inflicted?

The first time COVID-19 came to life, no one knew it would blow out of proportion. Most companies opted to have their employees work from home, businesses needed to shut down, kids stayed at home and started taking classes online, and many more. Having said that, a lockdown happened at some point which made it more difficult for many. 

Many people blamed COVID-19 to be the source of their burnout. Many believed that the pandemic stopped them from living but is it true? Is it the reality? 

Studies show that humans are capable of adapting to a lot of things. The human brain is wired to adapt in situations and that comes out naturally. For example, if you are inside a building that is on fire, your instinct will prompt you to find the exit doors to be able to get out and save yourself. This is a very common result of higher-level processing of context happening in the brain which helps determine if the threat is real, and if it is, the brain sends signals to activate responses and then we perform actions to be able to survive.

But in the situation we are in at the moment, some people tend to inflict stress on themselves and end up blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for whatever they’re feeling. We can’t deny the fact that in the last almost 2 years of being in the loop of wearing face masks and not being able to travel, see the family, do the usual things we do, it prompts us to feel exhausted and unhappy with the situation. But like the example given above, we are wired to adapt to any situation. But why do many people experience burnout even though we are wired to adapt? 

The only explanation can be the fact that we are not all the same and even though we are wired to adapt, not all of us can adapt in the same manner. Every human being is unique which means we do take our stresses in life differently which leads to some people having an easier or harder time adjusting to things. 

Blaming COVID-19 is one thing, but believing the pandemic is the only reason for your increased stress can’t be the thing. Maybe the pandemic makes it harder but like in any situation, we can prevent and manage burnout accordingly.

 

How to manage and prevent burnout

Stress is part of our daily existence and is unavoidable, but certainly we can prevent burnout. Whatever your profession is, the best way to avoid falling in the burnout trap is to practice self-care. Taking time for yourself, having 8 hours of sleep and rest, spending time with friends and family, taking time off social media or the online world, and doing things you want to do is not a selfish act at all, this is what you call self-love.

Exercise

Exercise

A few minutes of exercise a day is always great, not just for physical health but for overall well-being. Exercise gives an emotional boost and can help release happy hormones.

Nutrition

Nutrition

A balanced diet is always a good option to stay healthy physically and also helps the overall health. A well-balanced diet fuels the body and provides our brain the nutrients needed to be able to function properly.

Sleep

Sleep

Rest is always important so our body will be able to reset from an exhausting day. Ensuring an 8-hour sleep will help the body gain enough rest to be ready for the next day’s activity and to be able to function highly.

Ask for help

Ask for help

Help is the one thing that someone should seek when it comes to preventing or managing burnout. Taking breaks in between or asking for assistance from someone during stressful times can help someone prevent or manage burnout. Talking to someone close to you might be a colleague, friend, or family can help guide someone during stressful times.

Burnout can be prevented and is manageable. When experiencing high levels of stress, acknowledging that stress is very important as it will prompt you to take action. Early recognition that you are experiencing a problem handling the stress and asking for help will help a lot in managing the situation. 

If you are suffering from burnout and would like to speak to someone get in touch. 

Safe Hands are a corporate health and wellness company and we also offer Burnout Webinars for companies to help them educate their employees on burnout and how to take action to mitigate against it. If you would like to have a chat about arranging a webinar or in person seminar on Burnout with one of our team, please get in touch here.

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