The 6 signs you’re experiencing work burnout
In today’s busy, hectic, and often overwhelming world, burnout can be all too common – both in our professional and personal lives. But how do you recognise burnout and how exactly does it manifest itself?
Of course, some stress and fatigue is normal, especially during more intense periods of our lives, such as getting married, starting a new job, or buying a house. But what if you’re noticing work burnout symptoms on a regular basis?
The pandemic, increased living costs, and general horrific news stories can all lead to extreme levels of stress. In fact, 46% of UK workers feel more prone to this compared to before the pandemic. And the workplace contributes a huge amount to this. Let’s take a look at the 6 signs that you’re experiencing work burnout.
Work burnout symptoms to look out for
When you wake up in the morning (after your third alarm) to start your working day, you already can’t wait to come home and get back in bed. You feel seriously fatigued – and not in a good way. Exhaustion hits you from the moment you wake up to the moment you walk into the office – but when your head hits the pillow, your mind is consumed with racing thoughts and you’re unable to sleep well.
Things that wouldn’t normally get on your nerves literally get under your skin – including your work colleagues. You’re snappy and rude, but you can’t seem to help it and it’s causing fractures in your working relationships. People have started noticing that you’re being more direct than usual – and not in a good way.
Although burnout is caused by over-working and taking on too much, when the symptoms start to creep in, it can often show itself as laziness or lack of work. You feel like you can’t concentrate, which only exacerbates your work burnout more. You might find yourself drifting off to other thoughts or scrolling aimlessly through Instagram and TikTok.
You’d normally count yourself as relatively healthy – and when coughs and colds spread around, you tend to avoid them. But with work burnout, it can show itself up as frequent illness. You might feel like you have a permanent sore throat or sniffly nose that just won’t budge, or you may just be feeling generally run down
Activities, both at work and at home, that would normally excite or engage you, leave you feeling uninspired and detached. Your mood is low and your colleagues are starting to notice. Perhaps you’re not as chatty or you just don’t laugh like you used to. If burnout has really crept in, you could even be feeling helpless and trapped – with work being the main culprit.
You’re normally pretty confident at work and rarely experience imposter syndrome. But when the symptoms of burnout start to show, you’re doubtful and overwhelmed, questioning your own work – and your own sanity. You may compare yourself to others more, who seem to have everything under control.
How to avoid burnout
If you’ve recognised some (or all) of the symptoms above, then it’s time to address the signs you have burnout. There are several things you can do to ensure these don’t escalate and you’re able to manage your workload.
Although stress is often unavoidable, burnout is usually something you can resist – and as soon as you recognise the symptoms, as well as putting these tips into practice, you should find your mind clearing and your worries easing.
Take regular exercise
This doesn’t have to be high intensity workouts or long cardio sessions either. If you’re feeling exhausted, and suffering from lack of sleep, a 10k run is probably the last thing you want to be doing! We’re talking walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, it could even be gardening – anything that makes you feel good and gets your body moving. On days when you can feel your mood slipping and the overwhelm creeping in, take a moment to step outside and take a short walk, or even just some light stretches. Working these simple exercises into your everyday routine can provide you with the reprieve you need from work stress.
When you start to feel overwhelmed at work, try to implement these helpful mindfulness skills. Mindfulness means being fully present in the moment, focusing on exactly what you’re doing at that point in time, without worrying about the future (including what else we need to be working on in our jobs). You can even practise mindfulness at your desk, by simply taking a few moments to breathe deeply, concentrate on your posture, and noticing when your mind wanders elsewhere. Keep bringing it back to your breathing each time you notice your thoughts becoming full again. It can take time to get used to practising mindfulness, but even a little bit each day can help. You can access some great free tools through XXX.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Food is often used by many people as a stress reliever. But when we start to experience burnout, our healthy diets can go out the window and we either end up eating too much or too little, and often turn to sweet treats. This can lead to increased stress levels, poor concentration, and generally just not feeling good about ourselves. Ensuring you maintain a healthy, balanced diet can really help with your mood and energy levels. Make things easier for yourself by keeping on top of a regular food shop, ensuring you have healthy and simple ingredients that you can turn into filling meals.
Get some sleep
Symptoms of work burnout can show up in lots of different ways – one of them being lack of sleep or sleeping too much. Poor sleep leads to low energy levels, down moods and poor food choices, which then encourages poor sleep – it becomes a vicious cycle. Having a healthy sleep routine and practising good sleep hygiene can ensure you get a decent amount of winks. This will give you more energy, helping you tackle any work stress efficiently, without feeling overwhelmed. Try to avoid too much caffeine throughout the day, aim to go caffeine free after 12pm, don’t look at your phone before bed, and use your bed for what it’s supposed to be for: sleeping in and getting your much deserved rest.
Speak to someone
If you really feel like you’re struggling and your work burnout symptoms aren’t passing, even by implementing the changes above, it might be time to talk to someone, such as your doctor or mental health professional. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help – and it could just be as simple as asking a friend if they’re free for a coffee and a chat. Sharing your worries and concerns can help compartmentalise them better, allowing you to take a step back and realise what’s important – and what can be released.
Having a healthy work life balance is SO important, but with fully remote working, the boundaries between work and home are blurred – and it can be hard to separate them. Flexible and hybrid working can allow you to implement the right changes and have a good degree of work life balance. Recognising the symptoms of work burnout is the first step to making those changes – however that might look.
Speak to your manager about implementing a more hybrid approach, or if you’re a business owner looking to help employees with remote working, think about giving them the opportunity to access a virtual office.
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