How To Understand Burnout
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019 formally considered burnout as a work-induced syndrome in their International Classification of Diseases. This sheds some light on just how prevalent burnout is however it doesn’t just result from a work or professional situation but also in our personal and spiritual life, for example compassion burnout.
We often don’t identify being in a state of burnout until we are too far in it, so let’s take a moment to understand burnout (to hopefully better navigate it in the future).
What Is Burnout
Burnout comes on gradually, we just often dismiss the signs. Burnout occurs when we don’t balance our stress. A helpful way is to look at our emotions, one of which being stress, emotions are cycles that happen in our body. They are an involuntary neurological (your nervous system) response. Metaphorically speaking, these emotive cycles are tunnels that you have to go all the way through to get to the end and out of the cycle. However, we often become stuck in the tunnel due to not having the tools or ability to move our way through resulting in a feeling of exhaustion.
Signs Of Burnout
According to WHO there are three defining characteristics of burnout, within these are signs you can identify that you may need to reach out for help navigating your way out of the tunnel, or utilise your wellbeing toolkit to do so. The characteristics are:
Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Some signs you may be experiencing burnout
- Finding even small tasks to be too much work and being unable to focus
- Lower immunity, getting ill often
- Feeling physically and mentally exhausted
- Loss of creativity
- Change in sleep pattern
- Feeling detached
How To Manage Burnout
The best way to identify burnout before you arrive at that ‘too late’ stage is to regularly check in with yourself and how you’re feeling to better understand when you need to take time to reset.
When it comes to managing burnout our body doesn’t have the capacity to know when life stressors are no longer present, for example when we finish an intense work day our mind knows that the day has ended but our body does not. In order to remove this stress from our body we need to speak in body language to signal to yourself that you are okay. W we do this by giving our bodies the resources it needs to release stress - we call this your Wellbeing Toolkit..
Look to your Wellbeing Toolkit for resources that can help you process your emotions and stress, guiding you through to the end of that tunnel. Although we will often face that stress for more than one day, we can utilise these resources to manage stress as we go to avoid burnout.
By exploring self, your triggers, your limits and the resources that work for you, you can create life balance. Some things that can be in your Wellbeing Toolkit
- Move your body
- Breathing techniques
- Eat a nourishing meal
- Get a good night's sleep
- Connect with positive people
Want to know more? We recommend listening to Brene Brown’s podcast episode with Emily & Amelia Nagoski on Burnout and How To Complete the Stress Cycle.