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How to identify and avoid Burnout

Normal work has been everything but normal for most given restrictions imposed by the quarantine. Working from home means it’s all the more important to maintain routines, take breaks, step away during meals and to switch off at a reasonable hour. 

Make sure you notice any signs of burnout

It’s important to acknowledge that burnout not only affects work, but can also be brought on by challenging relationships, wanting to maintain a “normal” lifestyle and add to an already challenging work situation. It’s important to remember that it all adds up, and given time, little by little fatigue increases and starts affecting all areas of your life. Look at what your life looks like right now, and identify any parts where you can minimize strains and stress, here are some things to take into consideration: 

Do you know what burnout looks like? 

Stress is a real thing, and it affects our bodies and immune system almost more than our minds, but sometimes we’re just to busy to notice. Do you feel more agitated, angry or emotional than usual? Have you noticed that you are reacting to situations differently? Burnout can present itself if 4 different categories:

  • Cognitive: a foggy feeling in the head, difficulty concentrating or over analyzing

  • Emotional: irritability, anger, fear or anxiety 

  • Physical: increased fatigue (no matter how much you sleep), physical pain, headaches, blurry vision

  • Behavioral: feeling isolated, reactive to situations or overly emotional

A common reaction to feeling some of the above symptoms is feeling like there is “something wrong with me” and so, many self- isolate but this is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Reach out, don’t isolate yourself. Humans need contact, and isolating might just make your symptoms worse. Vulnerability is a sign of strength and it might do you good to get some help or to take some things off your plate. 

Have regular check-ins with your colleagues or your manager.

If you are an entrepreneur and work for yourself, check-in with friends or your network. Can you go for a walk together, grab lunch or schedule a virtual after work? Find a common ground and encourage milestones or support during challenges, you’d be surprised how appreciated this will be.

Speak up

Don’t underestimate your voice and what you bring to the team, or YOUR team. Managers have a responsibility to make sure that employees have a managed workload, and if need be help by balancing out, recognizing needs and offer support. Working as a team is effective not only for the individual but for increasing the effectivity of the whole team. If you are a member of a team, it’s all the more important that you communicate your needs and speak up if you are feeling overworked.

Prioritize recovery time

Make sure you give yourself time to re-charge; sleep, exercise, eat well and spend time with people that give you energy. Don’t sweat the small stuff, prioritize and don’t do too much. Doing house chores might not be appropriate as a top priority if you’re feeling fatigued, do the necessities and prioritize self care, the rest can wait. Minimize or unplug from social media, news and focus on what’s important here and now, and do more of what makes you feel good. Maybe time to pick up a hobby to help you get your mind of things?

Practice stress reducing techniques

Mindfulness, exercises like yoga, or writing in a journal are all great ways to help you focus on the present and help build up resistance to stress. It’s important to remember that burnout is caused by the brain literally being overworked. This does not mean that you are lazy or lack motivation, on the contrary. It is often the perfectionists and the ones that push themselves to high limits that end up getting burned out. Look at where you need to implement boundaries so that you can have a healthy relationship to your work and protect yourself.

Lastly, remember.. taking time for self care is going to fill up your cup, which in the long run adds to your effectiveness, creativity and goals.
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