I don't think I've met anyone who hasn't experienced stress at some point in their life. Stress is considered to be a normal part of life. But, it's when someone experiences prolonged stress, this can then lead to burnout. It can happen to anyone, regardless of their occupation or life situation. The APA dictionary definition for Burnout is:
burnout (n.) physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward oneself and others.
It can lead to a sense of loss of purpose, lack of motivation, and ultimately, poor health. It is therefore essential to identify the symptoms of burnout and take the necessary actions to reduce stress to prevent it from occurring.
Symptoms of Burnout
1: Feeling physically and emotionally exhausted
You might feel drained and lack the energy to do anything. An individual who is experiencing burnout might find it challenging to get out of bed and perform essential functions like attending work or performing household chores.
2: Cynicism and Detachment from work or life
If you feel like you hate your job or life, you might be experiencing burnout. You might have thoughts such as “Why should I bother?” or “I don’t care about anything.” These feelings can damage your relationships and overall well-being.
3: Reduced Productivity and Motivation
Burnout can cause procrastination, apathy, and a lack of enthusiasm. If you find yourself struggling to complete simple tasks, or feeling like you are in a fog, you might be experiencing burnout.
4: Physical Health Problems
Burnout can manifest itself in physical health problems such as headaches, increased heart rate, chest pain, and other physical symptoms. These symptoms can be caused by the body’s response to prolonged stress, and if they persist or become severe, it is essential to seek medical attention.
5: Emotional and Behavioural Changes
Emotional and behavioural changes, such as mood swings, irritability, and emotional outbursts are common symptoms of burnout. You might find yourself lashing out at colleagues or loved ones, feeling like crying or feeling overwhelmed.
Here is the Stress Curve Diagram. It shows us how some stress can help us work at our best, but going past the optimal point of stress will lead to burnout. Want to stop going over the hill?
Actions to take to reduce stress
As described above, there are a number of symptoms associated with burnout, but the key is to notice the signs of prolonged stress BEFORE you get to the burnout stage and do something about it.
Everyone's response to stress is different. Perhaps you've noticed a slightly achy jaw when waking up in the morning which could be sign of clenching your teeth overnight? Perhaps you've started skipping a few social engagements because you're feeling a bit tired? Perhaps you've started eating a few more comfort foods? 🥐🍔🧁🍫🍷🍺
What do you notice in yourself?
Tip 1: Take a break
Whether you set your Pomodoro Timer to work for 25mins and then have 5mins rest before your next work stint, or you book that well earned holiday to relax for a couple of weeks, taking small and large breaks is vital to preventing burnout.
Tip 2: Sleep
Try to establish a consistent sleep routine to get adequate rest. Health professionals recommend 8 hrs per day. Sure, if you have young children in the house, you may not get exactly what you hope for, but do what you can on a daily basis and maybe find some childcare so you can book that weekend away!?!
Tip 3: What's important?
Every so often we need to remind ourselves what is important in life. If something is getting a little overwhelming, ask yourself if it spending so much energy on it now will matter in a week, a month, or a year's time? When you're not working, try to remind yourself of the things that you do enjoy and/or are passionate about outside of work and life obligations.
Tip 4: Declutter your brain
Methods of how to declutter your brain, and success rates, vary person to person. My first recommendation is to write a list of everything on your mind... but I appreciate that sometimes writing this long list can feel even more daunting!
Try it, then break this list up into different areas of your life, and then talk through each area with someone who shares that area of life with you. Too many house chores to do? Maybe have a chat with your partner to see if they can share the load.
When you get your brain more organised in a way that works for you, everything can become a whole lot clearer and more attainable than before. If the above method doesn't work, I have plenty of tips and tricks up my sleeve so do get in touch.
Tip 5: Exercise
If you're starting to lack the energy to go to the gym or that exercise class, be kind to yourself and maybe take a little break, but try not to get stuck in a rut. Remember that physical exercise is proven to help stimulate the mind and improve motivation, so even a YouTube yoga class in the comfort of your own home, listening to a Mind meditation on a tea break, or doing some stretches when you wake up in the morning can keep the blood flowing until you get your gym mojo back.
Remember that taking care of yourself should always be the number 1 priority, so take some time for you and be true to yourself, your goals, and your passions.
I hope these tips have been helpful, and do ❤️ the blog if you want to see more content like this. Of course, if Lady PA can help you in any way with some suggestions specific to your situation, then please book a free discovery call to find out how we can help.