Around a year ago, health experts warned that there would be a spike of people suffering from burnout, mainly as a result of the transition to a working from home lifestyle. With little differentiation between work and home life, the two became merged and lots of people struggled to find the balance. A quick search on Google Trends revealed a huge increase in people searching for ‘symptoms of burnout’ in the midst of the pandemic. So what is burnout and how can we prevent it? Read on to find out more!
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion which is caused by a combination of excessive and prolonged stress. As well as burnout being caused by work, there are also other variations including social burnout, parental burnout and academic burnout. Essentially, anything that causes significant levels of stress and overwhelm can cause burnout.
There are three main ways in which burnout manifests itself:
- Volume: the most common form, and is caused by having a diary that is fully booked out, leaving no time for yourself.
- Boredom: when you are not challenged enough in your day-to-day life, and are lacking inspiration. A feeling of being stuck in certain situations, like your life is going nowhere.
- Social: often tends to affect ‘people-pleasers’ who are unable to say no because they would be letting others down. This type of burnout is also about fear of rejection too.
Causes & Signs of Burnout
The main causes of burnout are from too high a workload and a lack of support network. The symptoms of this manifest both physically and emotionally, and can include irritability, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, headaches and muscular aching. Even if you are starting to feel ‘run down’ or your appetite is starting to change, both of these are warning signs of burnout.
There are 5 main stages of burnout:
- Lack of awareness
- Panic starts to set in
- Stress levels increase
- You feel anxious and exhausted
- Chronic burnout occurs
How To Prevent Burnout
As with anything, prevention is always better than cure and recognising the symptoms before things get too bad is the best form of action. First you need to take control of the physical symptoms. If you are reaching for that sugar hit a bit too regularly, try to focus on allowing yourself the odd treat instead. If you are punishing yourself for not being in bed by a certain time, focus on the hours of sleep that you have instead of a set schedule.
Managing your workload is the next thing to address. Prioritise your to do list into the following categories: urgent & important, urgent & less important, important & less urgent, less important & less urgent. Once you have them divided into these 4 sections, then go through and break your tasks down into smaller chunks. If you are struggling with burnout, it is really important that you start to manage expectations and set boundaries. That way you won’t feel quite as pressurised to do everything and please everyone.
If you are struggling with burnout, the most important thing you can do is reach out for support. This may not always be possible if you work in a toxic environment, so you need to focus on what is right for you. Maybe a career change is exactly what you need to help you get out of this rut. If you want to find out more about becoming an Assessor, give our team a call on 01205 805155.