How To Overcome Burnout

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I wanted to continue talking about burnout because I think it impacts all of us at some point in our lives. In my practice, I have seen many people trying to push through the exhaustion, which only causes them further emotional and physical damage. What is burnout once again? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now that we have a sense of what burnout is, I encourage you to assess if burnout could impact your life.

I put together a list of things that could help you in coping more effectively when feeling physically and mentally exhausted.

Seek social support. I cannot stress enough how important social support is when you feel that you are at your breaking point. When you are burned out, you may feel helpless and hopeless. Isolation will only make things worse, that is why I encourage you to seek support from others. I encourage you to find a person who can listen to you and be supportive. You may also work on developing friendships with your coworkers as those relations can serve as a buffer from your mental exhaustion.

Get exercise. I know doing something physically active could be the last thing on your mind when you are feeling spent, but getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day can improve your mood. If you have difficulty getting yourself motivated to exercise, find someone, who will hold you accountable or cheer you on when you do exercise.

Improve your state of mind. Try to find something about your job that you like or value. I strongly encourage you to find some meaning in what you do. Focusing on those positive aspects of what you do that you actually enjoy. Those characteristic may change your attitude about work and help you find a sense of control, or a sense of purpose in what you do. That may also help you acquire balance in your life.

Focus on your priorities. What are your hopes, goals, values and dreams? Ask yourself if you have been neglecting any of those because of your high level of stress. After you do your homework evaluating your priorities, ask yourself if you need to slow down or change some of your patterns. Do you need to set appropriate boundaries with others? Maybe now is the time to learn when to say “no” at work. Do you need to allow yourself for more relaxation time?

Take time off. If possible, I encourage you to take a break from work if your feelings of mental and physical exhaustion are inevitable. Remove yourself from the work setting in order to recharge your batteries and be able to come back to work with a refreshed mind.

Take breaks. I also strongly encourage you to take regular breaks during work. If possible take a walk, stretch, have lunch away from your desk. This may help you get refreshed but also will allow you to increase your productivity. During those breaks, I also encourage you to put away your cell phone, laptop, etc. I want you to detach from work and other obligations when you are taking a break.

Focus on healthy eating habits. Reduce foods that negatively impact your mood, such as trans fats, high-carbohydrate foods, sugars, that quickly lead to “crash” in your energy level and mood. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood, such as fish and walnuts. Avoid nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant and will lead to higher stress. Limit alcohol consumption as well, as alcohol is a depressant and can also cause anxiety after it wears off.

Find activities that you enjoy. I encourage you to find an activity that will take your attention away from the emotional and physical pain. Find activities that you look forward to because that will help you keep distracted from focusing on the negative events that are happening in your life. Force yourself to go for a walk, go hiking, go bike riding, go out to dinner, go to a movie, park etc. It is not easy to be active or involved in any activity, but doing something will make you feel more productive and most importantly, it will serve as a distraction!

 

Here are just a few things that you can do in order to work on improving your life. Dealing with burnout is not easy but it can be overcome with having adequate social support and taking appropriate steps to cope with it more effectively. I strongly encourage you to learn relaxation techniques in order to relieve stress and help regain your emotional balance. Work on setting priorities as those will aid you in making a list of all the areas in your life that you want to work on. I believe that every single person matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their lives and find meaning in what they do. I encourage you to work on being proactive, mindful, and take good care of yourself. As I mentioned previously, all of our therapists are fully committed to help you find ways to live a more fulfilling lives.

Sincerely,

 

Aneta

Burnout

Over time, I have learned that burnout is one of those hazards in life that does not discriminate against anyone. In my practice, I have not only seen clients who have experienced burnout in their careers, students who have pushed themselves to their limits, and caregivers who cared so deeply about their loved ones that they forgot to take care of themselves. Before we dive into exploring warning signs, let’s talk about what it is first. Burnout is chronic stress that often times leads to not only physical but emotional exhaustion, feeling of detachment from others,  sarcasm, feeling ineffective, and often times feeling discouraged. The nature of a burnout is difficult to predict and recognize because it creeps up on us over time.

Although it may be difficult to recognize, let’s talk about the warning signs that our bodies send us before we begin to experience the full blown power of a burn out.

 

Sleep difficulties. In the early stages of a burnout, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep though the night. At first it may be just one or two days per week, but the number of sleepless nights starts going up and you may find yourself having difficulty getting a full night sleep.

Fatigue. With lack of sleep comes another warning sign, which is having lack of energy and feeling tired most of the day. After that battle continues for a while, you may experience feeling not only physically but emotionally exhausted and every day seems to be a dread.

Difficulty concentrating. With inability to sleep and feeling fatigued, you may start to notice that your concentration and ability to remember things begin to interfere with your daily tasks.

Making mistakes. With all the above factors playing a major role in your performance, you begin to lose attention to those small details you used to pay attention to. That is simply because you have enough energy to focus on one task only-to get though the day. As a result, it is easy to make a small mistake that begins to add up to other mistakes that you did not realized you have made in the first place. You may be working longer hours but due to feeing stressed you may be less productive and began to notice the never ending pile of things that still need to get done.

Decreased immune system. Have you noticed that you have been getting headaches, feeling sick more often, or that cold simply does not want to go away? Due to the fact that your body is depleted of a good sleep, your immune system gets compromised making you become more vulnerable to colds, flu, infections and other medical problems.

Anger. At first you may feel more tense, irritable or experiencing more conflicts with others. If those feelings continue to stay present in your life you may begin to experience irritability and tension turning into anger outbursts and serious arguments with others.

Anxiety. With difficulty concentrating, missing deadlines, and decreased productivity, comes stress, tension and worry. With increased tasks and lesser time to get things accomplished you may find yourself feeling more and more anxious and unable to complete the usual tasks.

Depression. Often times than not, anxiety is accompanied with feeling hopeless and sad about the current situation which can lead to feelings of worthlessness and guilt. With feeling depressed we begin to experience loss of enjoyment, pessimism, isolation, and detachment. You may begin to emotionally and physically remove yourself from activities that you used to enjoy. As those feelings progress, you may find yourself more immobilized.

With anxiety and depression comes loss of appetite. At the beginning you may simply just not feel hungry due to all the things that you have to do, but with time you may actually lose appetite altogether and experience weight loss.

Unhealthy coping. With already feeling and experiencing all of the above factors, you may begin to cope with them by using unhealthy substances, such as alcohol or drugs or find comfort in food.

 

I would encourage you to take some time and focus on some of the warning signs of a burnout that I listed above. I encourage you to keep this list in mind remembering that burnout does not discriminate against anyone. If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, please know that you are not alone and that there are people than can help you get back on track. All of our therapists at The Centered Life are fully committed to help you not only recognize the signs of a burnout, but also help you find healthy coping skills to balance life.

 

All my best,

 

 

Aneta