A phenomenon that wreaks havoc on our mental health and work/life balance, burnout is on the rise in the UK and beyond.
Burnout has the power to drain you of energy, deplete your motivation, and leave you feeling defeated (amongst other unpleasant symptoms). And, unfortunately, it’s a problem that’s only getting worse in our always-on culture.
According to recent research, in Britain more than 10 million workers have had to take burnout-related sick leave at one time or another. Crucially, it’s also worse for women than it is for men: between the challenges of the past couple of years and the ongoing struggles women face in the workplace, from the gender pay gap to being overlooked for promotions, it’s not hard to see why. Societal expectations of women are often higher too, meaning that the pressure is on outside of the office as well.
Thankfully, women are also more likely to do something about burnout when they spot the signs. A big win for self-care, prioritising wellbeing in this way can also bring benefits to the workplace, including better focus, concentration, and overall productivity.
But knowing that you need to look after yourself isn’t always the same as knowing how to look after yourself. The good news is that, armed with just a few simple tips and some patience, overcoming burnout is possible.
3 top tips for overcoming burnout
It might feel like a big obstacle, but burnout is something you can start to tackle if you’re armed with the right information. Registered clinical psychologist Dr Roberta Babb explains how.
1. Stop and breathe
Let’s start with something simple: breathing. As Roberta explains: “When we are burnt out, we feel out of control. However, breathing is one thing we have constant access to, and that we can intentionally control at any time.” A great reactive and proactive strategy for recovering from burnout, “it’s amazing how effective the action of stopping and paying attention to your breath can be.”
“To take mindful breaths, you can breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for two counts, and breathe out through your mouth for six counts. With the focus being on the ‘out’ breath, this exercise can help you to connect with your mind and body and be in the present, which has an instantly calming effect.”
2. Check your stress levels
“The reality is that, no matter how much we may want to, we are unlikely to recover from burnout by doing more of the same, which essentially is nothing different.”
The first steps to addressing the cause of burnout include looking inwards and starting to think about making “meaningful, intentional, and active changes,” Roberta says.
She goes on to emphasise the importance of identifying and addressing the issues that cause and maintain stress. “Only once we understand our stressors, triggers and responses will we be in a good position to think about what changes we would like to make and how to make them.”
3. Identify and enforce boundaries
“Part of what makes us stressed is the fact that we are always available and overextend ourselves as a result,” Roberta explains. “This is a reflection of the difficulty so many of us face in identifying, reinforcing and maintaining boundaries.”
But, she continues, boundaries are crucial to a healthy personal life, career, and relationships. And they’re not all about saying “no.” In fact, in learning to turn people down, you actually begin to say “yes” to yourself and your recovery. The benefits of doing so can be enormous.
“Boundaries can help us manage the demands placed upon us and create pockets of space. Within these spaces, we can breathe, think differently about our options, and feel more in control as a result.” As such, boundaries will also be key to a more healthy, balanced life beyond your burnout recovery.
To read more about burnout, click here.
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