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How to deal with burnout as a professional

What exactly is burnout?

These are the definitions of the word burnout that come to mind:

A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.

A state of fatigue or frustration brought by way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.

And on top of this, there are many signs that you can look out for if you’re worried that you may be suffering. These can include:

  • Having frequent escape fantasies.

  • Some may imagine running away

  • Some may turn to drugs, alcohol, and/or food to numb the emotional pain

  • Dreading or putting off going to work and wanting to leave once you arrive there.

  • Lethargy and little interest in or difficulty focusing on work.

  • Feelings of emotional and physical depletion are common.

  • Insomnia.

  • Feelings of emptiness and/or that your work and contributions go unrecognised.

  • Commonly experiencing ailments such as headaches, backaches, or illness.

  • Much like other forms of long-term stress, burnout can lower your immune system.

  • Irritability and blaming others for your mistakes.

  • Isolation.

  • Due to feelings of being overwhelmed, many start to avoid contact with others.

  • Thoughts of quitting your job or changing roles.

  • This can be caused by things like unclear goals, having monotonous work, or even working in a dysfunctional organisation.

If you find yourself suffering from any of these then it’s very possible that you are experiencing some level of burnout. However, do not fret as you don’t have to suffer helplessly. Many people have suffered from burnout before and as such, many methods have been conjured up to help deal with it.

What can you do to combat it?

Try to work with more purpose.

This is easier said than done but sometimes looking at the deeper and more meaningful impact of your everyday tasks can help you realise that your work matters. Ask yourself how your work changes the world or the life of others for the better. Is there something you could do that would add even more meaning to your work?

If you still think you might just be on the wrong career path, then it’s worth considering devising a new career strategy. Perhaps there’s a different job out there that’s better for you; a job that could reinvigorate your spirits and renew your passion for work.

Find a hobby. Sometimes a career can sprout from a hobby of yours. Even if it doesn’t, then having something you’re passionate about can help to energise yourself and can help fight those feelings of emptiness or even lack of interest in life.

Avoid work stressors.

Sometimes people just need a break. You aren’t any different so you shouldn’t feel guilty about contemplating a vacation. A holiday to unplug and allow yourself to forget your sources of stress for a spell can make all the difference.

If you don’t think a vacation is for you then make space for free time in your schedule. It’s important to prioritise self-care and you should make time for that. Give yourself time to practice better sleeping habits. Take some control and bring more autonomy into your life by ensuring you get at least a solid 30 minutes to focus on yourself each day.

Once you’ve given yourself more time for yourself, look for ways you can bring more joy into your life. Fill your time with things you love. As said before, find a hobby or revisit an old one.

Exercise and eat a balanced diet.

While working on bettering yourself, remember that exercise and a good diet does wonders. They are both great for our physical health, but they can greatly affect our emotional state too.

Furthermore, foods rich in omega-3s have proven to boost your mood so try to eat more things like walnuts and fish.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t have enough time for a full workout, short walks and little workouts here and there are better than nothing as long as you’re doing them regularly. Try getting up earlier or exercising during your lunch break. Inviting a partner, friend, or colleague to join could help to motivate you too.

Reach out.

It’s more than ok to ask for help. Like asking a friend to join you for exercise or simply just needing someone to confide in even if that someone is a medical professional.

You can even think about building a great team to work with. Reliable co-workers can help reduce stress. After all, when you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to be worrying about is how much work you’ll have to come back to. Therefore, a good team that you can depend on to do their part (and maybe even more) can help reduce your stress.

Not only this but considering that burnout is also caused by a lot of factors that could be shared between you all, reaching out to your peers may show you that you’re not alone. Helping others is always a great way to find more meaning in what you do and being able to offer mutual support to others in your organisation will even build trust and allow you all to brainstorm for solutions together.

Burnout can be a serious wall to overcome when it comes to your productivity but it can be overcome with enough patience and knowledge on how to deal with it.


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