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Nearing A Burnout? Here’s What You Need To Know

You've got this, we promise!

By Nishtha Bhalla  March 10th, 2021

As I sat down to write this, a thought struck me – how do I talk about a pervasive phenomenon that’s impacting a huge chunk of the world’s population? So, I’ll start with a simple question – do you feel like you hate the life you have, when there’s no evident external stressors you can pinpoint to? Does the idea of waking up every day and living your life exhaust you to the point where you want to curl up in your bed and Netflix for a solid 13 hours? Do you hate your job, even though you used to work to live? If the answer to those was yes, you might just be experiencing a burnout.

 

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While the pandemic has certainly made it more prevalent – with working from home throwing a wrench in your work-life balance, additional responsibilities, and a huge lifestyle shift (and of course, the impending threat of contracting an unknown disease) – the term burnout has existed long before. First coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger, in his book, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement, burnout is essentially a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress. Characterised by three main dimensions – exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of reduced professional ability – most high-achieving, perfectionist professionals tend to be prone to it.

burnout

But we’re pretty sure you didn’t just come here to read the definition of burnout. Chances are, you’re here because you’ve been worried you’re experiencing burnout. (Which is, well, great. Another *thing* to look forward to, am I right?) If you want to identify a burnout, read on for the symptoms of burnout, and how to combat them:

1. You’ve been feeling alienated from work and related activities

People experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with, and may even emotionally distance themselves and feel numb about their work. This may also happen when you’re feeling out of the loop.

How to combat it: For starters, try talking to your boss about it! Chances are, they’ve been in the same boat. Psychological problems are very real, and in today’s day-and-age, they are acknowledged in workplaces. You could also ask for a lighter workload, indulge in post-work activities, or take some time off to have a ‘you’ day!

2. You’ve been feeling some pretty intense physiological symptoms

If you’ve been feeling chronically exhausted, you may experience physiological symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches. And while it’s always better to consult a medical professional, if you’re unable to find a cause or a cure, you may just be experiencing a burnout.

How to combat it: First off, make sure you’re getting your full eight hours of sleep! Find a physical activity you enjoy, and incorporate it into your routine for those feel-good endorphins. If you really can’t find the will to get out of bed, though, give yourself tiny goals to accomplish. This could be as simple as brushing your teeth, or following a makeup routine. Completing tasks, no matter how little, will always make you feel good, and motivate you to carry on.

3. You’ve been feeling exhausted, emotionally

Burnout makes people feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. They often lack the energy to get their work done. And there’s a level of chronic exhaustion, that you can’t seem to shake off.

How to combat it: Incorporate more pleasures in your life! Find times in your daily routine to do things that make you happy – whether it’s putting on a face-mask at 2 PM on a Tuesday, or leaving work an hour early to get a massage. You need to appreciate the little things in life, and the things that make you happy – there’s never going to be a perfect moment to enjoy something, so you might as well enjoy it now. Don’t forget to talk – not just to a friend but also to a mental health professional. It always helps, and it’s okay to seek help.

 

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Remember not to be so hard on yourself – you deserve kindness too, and it’s okay not to feel 100% perfect at all times. Give yourself room to breathe, and remember: we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Your bandwidth pre-COVID may not be your bandwidth now, and it’s okay to gently remind yourself that you don’t operate in the same way. Burnout is a common phenomenon, and even though you may feel like you’re in the eye of the storm, you’ll come out of it stronger. You’ve got this!