Beat the burn out

Thought leadership
As it is mental health awareness month, the opportunity to sit back and reflect on one’s wellbeing, how to can prioritise it and how employers can create more awareness of its importance, has appeared. 

One common sign that the intense demands of a busy work schedule is affecting mental health is the experience of burnout.

What is burnout? 

Burnout is a form of mental and physical exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped, and results from extreme periods of mental, physical, and emotional distress. There may be one or many causes for the experienced burnout, having both long and short term effects, but ultimately you are slowly drained, feeling powerless over a situation.

What does burnout look or feel like? 

As burnout affects people both physically and emotionally, there is a range of symptoms. For example, emotional symptoms include feelings of anxiety, detachment from people or activities, reduced motivation and productivity, a sense of hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed. 

Physically, burnout can consist of muscular aches and pains, headaches, difficulties surrounding sleep, changes in eating habits and frequent illness due to a weakened immune system. Due to these symptoms overlapping with other mental health issues such as anxiety, many struggle to identify burnout. 

Why is burnout such an issue? 

It inhibits your day-to-day life. When untreated, the symptoms of burnout can increase, causing more mental and physical distress. Long term effects can result in additional mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression or eating disorders. 

As mentioned earlier, productivity can be affected. Burnout most commonly is triggered by the demands of a job or career, resulting in decreased performance and the inability to meet any performance target. It’s vital that employers understand and prioritise employee wellbeing, enabling individuals to open up in their workspace or get the necessary help to overcome these symptoms.

What can we do to prevent burnout or address any current symptoms of burnout? 

That’s what is so great about mental health awareness month. It can be a time to reflect, be honest and vulnerable with yourself to identify any signs of burnout or low well-being. Admitting and realising these emotions and signs is the first stage. Addressing the underlying causes is also important. There are many ways to take care of your mind and body, which will be different for everyone. For some this may look like physically resting and taking some annual leave, it could also involve engaging in exercise, having a spa treatment, listening to your favourite music or baking. 

It’s also important to not experience these symptoms alone. Support systems whether personal, work-related or both are vital to get through periods of exhaustion. Talking to a friend or letting a team member or management know how you are feeling can grant relief, allowing systems to be put in place to cope and prevent burnout from occurring. 

As employees and employers both learn how to deal with the symptoms, hopefully, we will all become more aware of the detrimental effects that are caused by neglecting mental health, whilst also prioritising the importance of wellbeing by implementing beneficial habits and systems in our lives and corporations.