Be it in life or at work, experiencing burnout is a real possibility for everyone. As your brain and body can only take being overworked or overwhelmed for so long, it’s imperative that you address burnout as quickly as possible. We all get stressed, have days of poor sleep and can absolutely have days where we are just not productive, so know that you are not alone. Let’s take a look at how you can put yourself on a path to burnout recovery.
What Is Burnout?
According to a 2018 Gallup poll, almost two-thirds of full-time employees reported that they had experienced burnout sometimes or very often while on the job. Separately, burnout has become so prominent that the World Health Organization has classified burnout as a “syndrome” in the International Classification of Diseases.
Even given that, it’s still common for people to not recognize they are experiencing burnout. Definitions of burnout may vary somewhat, but all tend to center on the idea that it is a work-related mental health issue that is the result of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion.
It should also be said that these definitions also apply to non work-related burnout as well. Burnout can stem from any number of things, including your workload, unrealistic deadlines, or feeling unrecognized or unrewarded at work or home. It could also be any number of things related to school, relationships, health, etc. The bottom line is that there is no single cause for burnout, and it’s often a combination of multiple things all taking place at once.
Recognizing the Signs
There is no one-size-fits-all for recognizing burnout, and each person can have a different level of burnout. However, it’s important to know the signs so that it’s more easily recognized. This can be the first step toward burnout recovery.
The signs are:
- Feeling like you do not have enough time during the day
- Difficulty concentrating whether at work or at home
- Stressing out over the thought of starting a new day
- Feeling like you are emotionally distant from colleagues, family, friends, etc.
- Losing interest in your job but not being able to walk away
- Always feeling tired/exhausted
- Picking up bad habits like overeating, relying heavily on sugary foods, drugs, alcohol, etc.
- Having a short temper with everyone you speak with
- Lacking motivation to complete even small, menial tasks
- Withdrawing from hobbies, plans, friends and family, etc.
The list goes on, but the signs noted here comprise a solid look at what the symptoms will be for burnout. It’s normal to have a bad day or a bad week at work without feeling burned out. Burnout comes into play when that feeling extends beyond a week and lasts a month or more.
How to Start Burnout Recovery
Let’s clear the air on one thing right away. There is no simple fix for burnout, and it’s nothing you will recover from overnight. However, you can and will recover and will feel better.
Identify the Cause
It’s a critical first step that you identify the biggest stressors that are causing burnout. Is it your workload, your manager, your children’s schedule and constant running around? Knowing where the problem starts is the first and most important way to understand the path to burnout recovery.
Meditation is a method that has been around for generations, and it has helped a countless number of people heal from burnout. A University of Virginia study concluded that practicing mindfulness led to “significant improvements in burnout.”
You can start small, and there are a range of excellent apps to get you started. If meditation isn’t your thing, you can also try more traditional exercises like walking or swimming. Yoga is another great exercise that you can do that will allow your mind and body to heal.
Focus on You
All too often we try and help others while losing sight of ourselves, and that can result in poor health. Everything from making sure you are getting a good night’s sleep to eating right matters. Allow seven to eight hours of sleep a night so that you wake up feeling refreshed. Keep hydrated with water throughout the day and avoid caffeine. Avoid sugars and bad foods while adding healthier meals or snacks to feel refreshed and energized. Take breaks, lots of them. Whether brief or long, breaks will allow you a moment to rest and not think about your work.
Use Your Support System
Do you have a good support system at home or work? Lean on it. Create or find the time to spend with your family and loved ones. Alone time is equally important, but being around those you love can make you feel appreciated and help you heal. Your support system can be a spouse, a neighbor or a group of friends. It can even be your pet. The point is that you should have people in your corner who will support you when you need it.
Set Boundaries for Yourself
One of the easiest, while also the most difficult, aspects of burnout recovery is setting boundaries for yourself. This is especially true and applicable to work burnout. You need to set a cutoff time to stop going through email. It may seem frightening and impossible, but no one can be “on” all the time. Set up blocks on your calendar that will allow time to work on critical tasks or projects. Additionally, make sure you take any opportunity to delegate some workload responsibility to others. One day you can return the favor.
Burnout is real and a risk for everyone, no matter the age, gender or role at work. Everyone can feel the stress that comes with too much work or too many people asking for attention all at once. Fortunately, there are ways you can recover from burnout and make sure you don’t feel the same way again. You can start with these tips for learning how to manage your day.