Burnout. That's the last word you want to hear a medical professional saying that you're suffering from. But how can you recognise it before it's too late?
Before we even begin, let's see how the experts classify the word ‘Burnout’.
According to the World Health Organization “burnout results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
In fact they included burnout for the first time in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases which took effect in January 2022.
But, to be clear, although burnout is deemed as an occupational phenomenon, it is not classified by the WHO as a medical condition or mental disorder.
And yet it sends people to their GPs and, if severe, requires expert help to recover. Visiting your GP is always recommended to ensure that your symptoms are related to burn out, and that it's not something different.
Here are a few common symptoms to be aware of:
Unexplained energy depletion or exhaustion
Increased cynicism related to your job
Work productivity and performance suffers
Trouble concentrating and completing task on time
Increased irritability and impatience with co-workers
Burnout can also present itself by:
1. Feeling overwhelmed – read my previous blog on Preventing Business Overwhelm
2. Tension headaches.
3. Changes in your sleep patterns.
4. Depression-like feelings.
Needless to say, COVID-19 has only served to increase the likelihood of burnout occurring, which then further impacts your performance and affects the colleagues you work alongside.
It can create a dysfunctional workplace dynamic as you begin to feel a lack of control, start snapping at co-workers and deal with only 50% of emails and other colleague-related interactions.
When you begin cancelling social plans because you're too tired, your coffee intake has dramatically increased with no result to your ability to focus, or you start missing deadlines, you will know that something needs to change.
Recognising burnout is the first step in recovering. And here are some guidelines to remedy it.
1. Your number one priority is to take care of your mental health, which may mean seeing a doctor, coach or counsellor.
These options offer you a safe space where you can talk to someone outside the problem. You’ll gain objective feedback, different perspectives and tools to cope in the future.
2. The next option is to see if a holiday is on the cards. Taking time off to unplug will do wonders for your mental health. If you can't take a holiday, use sick leave to spend time away from your work.
It is also crucial for you to know that asking for time off or seeing a coach or counsellor is NOT a sign of weakness. Just the opposite in fact. It takes strength of character to recognise when you need assistance.
But why let the stresses of your job get on top of you?
Why put pressure on yourself to tackle that unmanageable workload?
Why get to the point where that insignificant something nags at you, or you become annoyed at the slightest thing a co-worker says or does?
The old saying "prevention is better than cure" is definitely true in this case. And there are measures you can put in place to help prevent burnout by seeing the warning signs and catching them early.
1. Create a daily check-in. You may even do this each hour where you take a few moments to ask yourself how you are doing emotionally and physically.
2. Step away from the computer (and phone). The Pomodoro Technique is a scientifically proven method of self-interruptions that helps your brain focus. More about this technique HERE.
3. Practice mindfulness. Breathe. One of the best ways to become emotionally present is by deep breathing, forcing you to focus on the breath. This is keeping you in the present moment and away from the stresses of your job. It is easy to do, can be done anywhere and quite often, others around you are not aware of what you are doing. The effects, though, can be extremely empowering.
4. Establishing a routine around a healthy work ethic. It will take some effort to develop, but setting alarms throughout the day signalling breaks is a start. Breaking your work down into sizable chunks between the alarms will also help achieve goals.
5. Learn to say "no". We live in a career-driven world where we feel we have to be available 24/7. We have our work phones with us, and because of this modern technology, work has infiltrated into our home time. It may be time to talk to your boss. Communication is paramount. All leaders should understand that their teams' mental health and well-being will increase productivity rather than seeing burnout happening.
6. On a personal level, taking time for socialising or your hobbies, in fact anything something outside of work will give you satisfaction and enjoyment. Being with people other than your work colleagues helps to provide a different perceptive on life.
Being mindful of creating balance between your work and personal life balance is crucial if you are going to avoid burnout.
Attending to your mental health through self-care is not a selfish act. In fact, the opposite can be said. Because if you look after yourself, you will have a greater ability to look after others and be your best self.
Mastering your mindset is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It impacts every relationship you have, especially the one with yourself.
Today, decide to become the driver of your life instead of a passenger.
And if you want some support to help you get there, fill in your details on the CONTACT page and let’s talk.