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What is burnout and how to avoid it?

Woman suffering from burnout sits on the floor resting her head in her arms on her bed

What is Burnout?

It’s difficult to draw a line between our work and private lives when juggling them in the same space. The blurred lines between your personal and work life can mean that you are working longer hours and unable to switch off. Your brain and body can only handle feeling overworked and overwhelmed for so long, and over time, could lead to burnout.

Burnout refers to a collection of symptoms following prolonged stress. This could present itself as feeling exhausted, limited motivation, irritable and anxious feelings. You may also notice physical symptoms like headaches, stomach-aches or your sleep has been impacted. There are some factors that can increase the risk of experiencing burnout. For example, unreasonable deadlines and workload, or lack of support from your manager and team, and you may not notice the symptoms immediately.

How to cope

Review how sleep can be improved – Sleep restores wellbeing and helps protect your health. Try to establish a regular sleep routine. This could involve sleeping and waking up at the same time every day. Using screens in the evening, including on tablets and mobile phones, can negatively affect your sleep so try to turn off your screens and do something to relax you before you go to bed.

Set boundaries – Try and finish work on time. After leaving work, focus on relaxing and recharging for the next day. If possible, designate a clear space where you can do your work that is separate from where you relax. It also helps to separate your work and living areas by distinguishing in your mind when to work and when to and relax.

Take breaks – Schedule in regular breaks during the day and take time for activities or hobbies you enjoy. Time off is important, even if COVID-19 restrictions have changed the way you would normally use your annual leave. You are entitled to use your annual leave and it gives you an opportunity to relax and recharge.

Ask for help – Burnout can become so overwhelming that determining how to address it still seems exhausting. Involving a trusted loved one can help you feel supported and less alone. Friends, family members and partners can help you brainstorm possible solutions. Approaching the HR department about problems in the workplace or talking to your line manager about the issues could be helpful. Get in touch with the employment service team who can help you identify workplace stressors and support you in discussing this with your manager.

Addressing burnout

Addressing burnout can be difficult and can bring up a variety of feelings. If you are concerned about your work life impacting on your mental health and would like some support or advice, you can make a self-referral to the employment service at Community Living Well. The employment team are working remotely and are not taking face-to-face appointments during the COVID-19 outbreak, but they may be able to support you via telephone and online services.

Community Living Well Employment Support

The Employment team offers a wide range of practical help, advice and coaching support. They can help to answer any questions you have about jobs or employment. Your dedicated Employment Adviser can help you:

  • Find the right kind of work for you
  • Return to work after a period of sick leave
  • Stay in work and/or deal with workplace adjustments
  • Know your employment rights

The Employment Team are still accepting referrals and all of their work is being done over the phone.

Find out more, or refer yourself, here.

This article was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2021 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 13th July 2021

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training