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Burnout - prevention is better than cure

Have you been feeling exhausted, stressed, and unmotivated lately? Do you find it hard to concentrate, engage with others or even get out of bed in the morning? You might be experiencing burnout.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to stressors, often related to work. It's a common problem that affects many people, especially those in high-pressure jobs or caregiving roles.

A few years ago, while working in a large organisation, there were some changes being implemented. We had late-night meetings, re-documenting of processes and working with others who may not have a back ground in the processes or take the time to understand the issues and be open for solutions, and this on top of the BAU, took a toll on my team and I. I began to notice how I was responding physically, tension in my upper back, fatigue, skin breakouts all over my body, falling ill easily, and emotionally I was toggling between cynicism, anger, resentment, and distrust. I decided to then take very long walks home after work to destress (7km) and to take a perspective on my life. It was a few months later that I realised I was going through a burnout. I eventually moved on to doing what I am more passionate about, to be an advocate for mental and emotional well-being.

Without sugar coating this, burnouts may take a few months to a year (or more) depending on the severity of its effect on your physical, mental and emotion self. What can you do to help yourself? Have some rituals for self-care (you can find this in my previous blog and below this article), be aware of the symptoms and be attuned to your mind and body. An article by Harvard Business Review stated that “engaging in self-care activities (such as a 10-minute meditation session, cooking a nice meal, or even taking a nap) correlated strongly with reduced levels of reported burnout the following day”.

Symptoms of Burnout:

• Chronic fatigue and lack of energy

• Insomnia or difficulty sleeping

• Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment in work or life

• Irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating

• Physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and muscle tension

If you're experiencing some or all of these symptoms, it's important to take them seriously and seek help.

Causes of Burnout:

Burnout can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

• High workload and demands at work or home

• Lack of control over your work or life situation

• Poor work-life balance

• Unsupportive work environment or interpersonal relationships

• Lack of recognition or appreciation for your work

• Personal or family health problems

What You Can Do About Burnout:

If you're experiencing burnout, there are things you can do to help yourself:

1. Recognize and acknowledge your feelings: Don't ignore your symptoms or try to push through them. Recognize that burnout is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

2. Make changes in your life: Evaluate your workload and make changes where possible. This could mean talking to your boss about workload or delegating tasks to others. It could also mean setting boundaries and taking time for self-care.

3. Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional about how you're feeling. They can help you work through your feelings and develop a plan to address burnout.

4. Practice stress-management techniques: Engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, like yoga, meditation, or exercise. Make time for hobbies and activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

In conclusion, burnout is a serious problem that affects many people. Recognizing the symptoms, causes, and what you can do about it is an important step in addressing and preventing burnout. If you're experiencing burnout, don't hesitate to seek help and make changes in your life to address it. Do note, the best cure for burnout is prevention.


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