Juggling a life at home and trying to be a good employee is not easy, in fact, it can feel downright exhausting. For many of us, handling these stresses has led to feeling completely burned out. So what can you do about it? The good news is there are lots of ways to deal with burnout. We’ve put together a list of great tips that can help you identify and deal with burnout in your own life.
What is Burnout?
People often talk about being ‘burned out’ when they’re stressed, but what is burnout? There’s no strict definition, but burnout is generally when people feel emotionally, physically or mentally exhausted from prolonged stress. When the term was first used in the 70’s it was associated with people who worked under extreme pressure like doctors or nurses. We now know it can affect anyone no matter what they do for a living.
What are Some of the Symptoms of Burnout?
We all get stressed and that’s normal. What’s important to know is the difference between being stressed out or tired and burnout. Here’s a good way to think of it: you’re feeling like you’re under a lot of pressure, but you still feel motivated to get things done and you can see an end in sight. But with burnout, you feel like you’re beyond caring. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of enjoyment
- Feelings of apathy
- Lack of productivity
How to Deal with Burnout
Take Time for Self-Care
One of the first things to do is find a way to release some stress or frustration. What that looks like is completely up to you! Try something relaxing like breathing exercises, yoga or taking a long bath. Maybe you prefer something more physical like going for a run or playing a sport with some friends. Whatever it is, you need to take the time for self-care and wellness to reset, recharge and deal with burnout.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Most of us can’t start a day without our coffee, but you may be doing more harm than good. Caffeine has been associated with things that can lead to burnout like increased stress and anxiety levels and trouble sleeping. Try switching to decaf, a herbal tea or at least limiting the amount of caffeine you have each day. Another type of drink to avoid is alcohol. Relaxing with a glass of beer or wine may be tempting but studies have also shown there’s an association between burnout and alcohol. Switch it out for a delicious mocktail or yummy smoothie – they taste great and you’ll feel better in the long run.
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
Between family, work and friends we all have a lot on our plate right now. Without proper boundaries you’ll be taking on workloads and commitments that you just can’t handle. It may not seem like it, but setting boundaries will make you more productive. For example, try setting aside certain times in the day where you turn off your phone and stop checking your emails. This will let you catch up on what needs to be done. Make sure you’re letting your boss know if a deadline is unreasonable or ask your partner to help with dinner that night. Communicating with the people around you when you’re feeling overwhelmed will help with your anxiety and relieve some stress!
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Reaching out to friends and family is a great way to deal with burnout, but professional mental health support can also be a big help. There are lots of resources throughout Canada that are available for every type of situation. Your health insurance benefits are also a great place to look for that extra support. Our Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP), provided by Homewood Health as part of our Group Insurance plans, has a full range of mental health resources. And for our Personal Health clients, another option is LifeWorks, which includes assistance and wellness components for your mental, physical, financial, and social wellbeing.
Get Some Rest
There's a strong relationship between sleep and burnout, so make sure you’re getting enough rest. This starts with a good wind-down routine. This can be whatever works best for you, like reading a book or trying some evening meditation. The most important thing is to make sure you’re turning off your phone notifications or any other things that may distract you so you can get some quality sleep.
Make Sure You’re Eating Well
The food you eat can greatly affect your body during times of stress so make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. Try to eat food that is good for your brain and rich in Omega-3’s like walnuts, fish and kidney beans. Boost those vitamins and minerals with dark leafy greens and fibre-rich foods like berries, whole grains and avocados. You are what you eat, so try to eat healthy and nutritious!
Keep A Close Support Network
Having a support network is essential to fighting burnout. At home, this means talking to your family and friends about the stress you’re feeling and finding ways that they can support you. At work, it’s important to be able to talk to your coworkers or mentors about how you’re feeling. Human connection is key to fighting burnout.
Include Daily Exercise
We all know that exercise is good for us physically, but it’s also great for your mental health. Research has shown that regular exercise can have a positive effect on people experiencing burnout, with resistance training being “noticeably effective in increasing wellbeing and personal accomplishment and reducing perceived stress”. Take time out of your day to make sure you get some sort of exercise, whether that means getting out for a walk or taking an online fitness class.
We all deal with stress in different ways and it’s important to set boundaries or take more time for yourself. Remember that burnout isn’t permanent. Changing the way you deal with stress and anxiety will help you deal with everything going on in your life and help you avoid that feeling of being burned out.