Burnout: What is it? Tips to avoid it

I know what is is like to feel real burn-out. I know and recognise when my husband is experiencing real burn-out.

“I wake up and just feel I cannot move, that nothing is worth it anymore, nothing is longer possible. I am literally stuck in my bed. Mostly crying, followed by a very long hot shower with more crying. Exhaustion creeps in to the point I think I have chronic fatigue, my anxiety turns to turmoil thinking about what is going to happen and how I am going to deal with it today – I just can’t”.

Burnout can be a lot more than just emotion. For Chris it escalates into extreme exhaustion, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in all the things he loves, muscle aches and changes to appetite. For myself my hair literally comes out in clumps! I break out in a million pimples, gain weight, stress eat uncontrollably and become impossible to live with.

“You experience such huge amounts of stress you can no longer handle it, nothing makes sense anymore and everything is too hard – even simple things like brushing my teeth was all too hard”

You try to overcome your feeling of defeat by working harder, by immersing yourself in positive social media posts, overcompensating and taking on more projects – we are desperate to stay above the water as only “the weak” burn out right – we are too strong for that. We wanted this business and therefore we keep going, we are not allowed to struggle.

The truth is burnout is real condition recognised by the world health organisation and can sneak up on all of us! Its normal.

Burn-Out Defined

According to the world health organisation Burn-out is defined as:

“A syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”

It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of emotional, physical and mental energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • feelings of overwhelment, being emotionally drained and the inability to meet the constant demands of one’s job, home and social life.
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism, hopelessness, resent or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy, productivity and motivation.

Long term effects can lead to physical symptoms such as hair loss and increased risk to illnesses. It is therefore important to deal with burnout right away.

Signs and symptoms of burnout

All of us will have those days when we feel helpless, overloaded, stressed, overwhelmed and/or unappreciated. However, if you are feeling this way most of the time than chances are you may be burnt out.

True burnout is a slow gradual process, that can easily creep up on you without even realising what has been happening. Signs and symptoms are subtle at the beginning but increase in severity with time. Therefore, it’s important to recognise the “red flags” and actively work to reduce your stress load to prevent a major breakdown and avoid burnout.

Tips to help Avoid/ Treat Burnout

I am not a psychologist or licensed professional. To help complete this section I have done a lot of research and derived tips from very personal experiences with burnout. I cannot guarantee they will work for you as each human being is very unique with different needs. However, I can guarantee that these things can help to reduce your stress, the likelihood of burnout and get you back to work faster.

“As a time management coach, I’ve seen that at the core, burnout prevention is about living out what is true about your body, your personality and your reality. You don’t need a dream job. But in your overall life, you do need to find time to take care of your health, do things you find refreshing and have a sense of purpose. The closer you are to living your truth, the less likely you are to burnout.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

In short your body is designed to repair and restore itself. So when you are burnout – feeling that ongoing exhaustion, detachment from your work, overwhelming stress, possible weight gain and hair loss – it’s a pretty clear sign that the demands you are putting on your body are outweighing its ability to relax and restore itself. It’s at this time you need to step back and reassess the simple foundations everyone needs: sleep, good food, movement and, restoration and relaxation.

Sleep

First, you need to know how much sleep you need. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven to nine hours of sleep for most adults. Your ultimate goal is to be alert for the majority of the day without needing a nap or unlimited coffee/ energy drinks. Adequate sleep will also increased mood, which may also reduce your dread toward work. Getting more sleep is simple: go to bed earlier, wake up later or do both. Get in the habit of “bed-times” by setting an alarm on your phone. It’s a great idea to set this alarm 30min before you want to go to sleep as a reminder to shut off all devices and TVs. Screens are well researched and known to stimulate the brain and increase sleep difficulties. The National Sleep Foundation recommended some pre-bed relaxation exercises.

If shutting down the screens terrifies you just think about how bad you feel when your constantly exhausted and amazing it will be when you are well rested.

Food

You are what you eat! What goes in your mouth significantly impacts upon mood and energy. Being Hangry is an actual thing guys! It’s normal to become irritable, annoyed and lack energy when you are not fed. Personally, during the day I have found frequent light and healthy meals works to keep my brain attentive and belly satisfied. Larger more filling meals tend to make me bloated and uncomfortable – but again everyone is very different. The most important thing is that you are NOT skipping meals! You need to be honest with yourself about what your body needs to keep energised, happy and healthy. Check out “how to eat healthy for the busy” for some awesome little healthy swaps and snack ideas to try and stay away from sugar and caffeine overload.

Movement

Taking some time out of your day to move provides your body and mind to recuperate and de-stress. Studies have shown just five minutes of basic outdoor activity when your feeling overwhelmed and stressed can have a meaningful impact on your psychological state. In comparison 20-30 minutes of exercise will improve your mental health overall. For example, if I am dealing with a difficult client or situation at work I will get up from the computer and walk around my backyard, complete a 10 min yoga session or use my brick wall as a punching bag to help release negative emotions and refocus on the task at hand. I prioritize my gym sessions before work, as without them my emotions just build and build – I have to physically let them go and damm it feels good.

Relaxation

Everyone needs regular rest, relaxation and holidays. For parents your “holiday” may simple be a night where your kids sleep over at someone else’s home so you have time to yourself to just breathe and do nothing! Relaxation and self care is a very individual thing and something you should explore yourself. It’s important to recognise your individual needs, not the needs of your partner, your kids, your parents, friends, co-workers etc etc – what YOU need.

“Self-care is dependent on the individual. It is based on what helps them to feel more like they’re in their natural state, which is the thing, place or feeling that would happen if there were no pressure on them — the thing they would want to do,” – Robert L. Bogue “Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery.

For us camping is a big thing. It’s inexpensive, there is no phone reception or technology – its the bare basics out bush in the middle of nowhere with nothing but time to chill-out and really connect as a family. Everytime we come home we are pumped and ready to go. It’s extremely therapeutic for us being away from all forms of technology for up to a week. For some this may be the definition of hell – and their idea of restoring themselves could be a night out, a social dinner with friends, a book with a glass of wine, journaling, cleaning the home, organise a pantry, gardening, crafting or hiking. For Chris it’s immersing himself into the the guitar world. Everyone is very different and there is not right or wrong answer.

“Our desires are what drive our everyday actions and make us who we are”. “What makes individuals unique is the combination and ranking of these desires.” – Professor Steven Reiss

In the world of business it’s important that you create a great team of people, so when you do need to take some time away you can knowing well everything will run smoothly. Coming back to piles of work can be daunting – a supportive well trained team will make sure this won’t happen to you.

Need a Brisbane electrician? We are so lucky at Triforce that we are supported by such great people and have an incredibly understanding client base. Our local brisbane business wouldn’t exist without you and for that we are so thankful. If you want to become apart of the Triforce Family please give us a call today on 0412 922 265.

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