How to Avoid End-Of-Year Burnout (Or Recover if You’re Already There).
Burnout has become a modern day epidemic and is an alarmingly common occurrence in workplaces that are increasingly fast-paced, complex and demanding more of people than ever before. Not only that, but technology has significantly blurred the lines between home life and work life, making it much harder to switch off in any meaningful way.
It’s incredibly important to understand what burnout is, what causes it, how you can spot if you’re on the verge, and how you might prevent it. If you’re already burnt out, getting the right tools to recover from burnout and reverse its effects are essential to being able to live not only a normal life, but one in which you can thrive. It’s also critical to differentiate between stress and burnout, as the actions, just like the symptoms, can be different and require their own responses.
Here are some practical tips for how you can avoid burnout this year, or recover if you’re already there.
WATCH FOR THE WARNING SIGNS
The first step in avoiding burnout is to become much more familiar with spotting the signs, so you can recognise when you might be heading in the wrong direction. As burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, the signs you are looking for are also physical, mental, emotional and behavioural. You can read all about them in our article Are you on the verge? How to spot the signs of burnout.
IDENTIFY YOUR STRESSORS
We know that burnout is the result of excessive and prolonged stress, so when it comes to avoiding burnout it’s vital that you can identify your stressors and put boundaries in place to manage them. What you need to be aware of when it comes to managing stress, is that there is a difference between the stressor (external source of stress) and the stress (internal physiological response to stress) and that both of these things need to be addressed. We recently wrote about some of the behaviours (internal factors) that lead to burnout, but now let’s talk about the external factors.
Reflect on the situations, things, people and places that may be causing stress in your life and ask yourself whether this particular stressor is within your control? Is there something you could do to either reduce or completely alleviate that source of stress? What boundary do you need to set to make the situation more manageable?
Of course, when you reflect on the stressors in your life you may find that some of them are completely outside of your control. In those instances, it’s a case of practising the art of letting go and accepting that there are things beyond your control. It’s also worth noting that even if the stressor is outside your control, what is within your control is the way you manage and respond to the associated stress (internal physiological response).
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
A key skill in preventing burnout is your ability to manage your stress response, meaning your body’s physiological response in stressful situations. When the stress response is activated, a whole series of neurological and hormonal activity occurs which initiates physiological changes to help you survive. Your heart beats faster, your blood pumps harder, your blood pressure increases and you breathe more quickly. Adrenaline pumps through your system, your muscles tense, your sensitivity to pain reduces, your attention is alert, your senses are heightened and you’re hyper focused on the here and now. Because the body thinks you’re under threat and it wants to maximise your ability to survive, your other organ systems are deprioritised.
It’s important to know that stress is not the problem. Getting stuck in the middle of that stress, not completing the cycle and then having these incomplete stress cycles accumulate, is the issue. The good news is there are simple and effective ways to complete the stress cycle to ensure you don’t reach the point of burnout.
Here’s a list of 8 ways to complete the stress cycle:
- Physical activity
- Positive social interaction
Another helpful strategy for managing your stress is to reframe the way you perceive stress and focus on creating a ‘stress is enhancing’ mindset.
BUILD RESILIENCE AND WELLBEING
One of the most beneficial things you can do for your life is to become really invested in creating intentional wellbeing and building your resilience. Not only will this allow you to avoid burnout in the first place, if you’re already there, increasing your resilience and building sustainable wellbeing will be the key to your recovery. We will be giving you more insights and tips to build your resilience and wellbeing in upcoming articles, but to begin with, here’s a list of 10 tools that work:
- Practice gratitude daily
- Focus on positive emotions
- Learn something new
- Manage and restore your energy
- Get adequate sleep
- Nourish your body with foods that energise you
- Move your body regularly
- Practice mindfulness
- Build positive relationships
If you’re looking for more support on how to avoid burnout or recover if you’re already there, you can download our guide The 5 behaviours that lead to burnout for free, now.