It is estimated that burnout costs the global economy £255 billion a year. Burnout tends to happen as a result of long-term stress in a situation or job that, for whatever reason, you’re highly committed to. So the more you care about your work, the more likely you are to experience burnout.
Burnout has three major characteristics: emotional and physical exhaustion, a cynical attitude towards people and relationships at work, and a feeling that you are no longer accomplishing anything worthwhile.
While these feelings might be all too familiar to some of you, there are things you can do to deal more effectively with stress, pressure, and burnout. Here are our top 5 picks:
To prevent burnout from happening in the first place, it’s really important to understand how you normally respond to stress. Write down the things that cause negative feelings in your life, along with how you normally react to those things, and what you do to cope. If you start to notice a change in the way you’re reacting to or dealing with stress – at work or at home – this might be an early warning sign of burnout.
A lot of people who have experienced burnout say that it was only after they had burned out completely that they could look back and see that it wasn’t the amount of stress that had changed, it was how they were dealing with it that led to burnout.
Ask for help
Trying to do it all – can be a major contributing factor to burnout. This can often be seen in people trying to take on multiple roles, under great pressure, and then not asking for help.
Daring to let someone in and talk about how you feel can often be the first step to recovery. Asking for help and showing a little vulnerability can be difficult, but it is actually a sign of immense strength, rather than weakness.
Manage your expectations
Think carefully about what you expect from yourself in all areas of your life, and make sure those expectations are realistic. Having unrealistic expectations of what you should be able to handle is linked to the need to be superman all the time.
Previous research also shows that a discrepancy between your “actual self” and your “ideal self” can have a negative impact on self-esteem.
Focus your energy on the things you can control
There are things in life, in work and at home, that we can control. There are also things we can’t control. If you were to write lists for both, I’d bet that most of the stress and worry in your life comes from the list of things you can’t control. So why not take a little of that energy and put it into the things that you can control?
Pick something small (drink more water, eat more fruit, walk more) and make a concerted effort to take control of that aspect of your life.
Take breaks and be present
Booking a two week holiday in the Caribbean every time we feel stressed would certainly be nice, but it’s not realistic. But we can take “breaks” simply by taking the decision to be fully immersed in our lives away from work. Admittedly, it’s easier said than done, but take time at home to be fully present.
Eat dinner with your family and make a conscious decision to be fully engaged in that activity – even if you have to check your emails afterwards. Building and maintaining a supportive network, and connecting with family and friends is vital to avoid burnout – so those small breaks can make a huge difference.