Life can be stressful, and stress can rapidly turn into burnout. If you’ve ever felt extreme mental and physical exhaustion and overwhelmed by the pressure to perform your daily tasks, you may have experienced burnout.
Finding the right balance between work and life is not an easy challenge, but it’s not impossible. Whether you are or a loved one is struggling, the following advice from experts will help you extinguish burnout before it’s too late.
Which healthy habits can help us prevent burnout? and Which healthy habits can help us overcome burnout?
After interviewing dozens of functional medicine practitioners through our work at WebFMD, including some with expertise in recovering from burnout, we have learned how much of an impact lifestyle can have on the prevention of and recovery from this common, yet devastating condition.
Burnout occurs when you lose your excitement for life, you find yourself just going through the motions day-to-day. You feel like nothing matters, nothing is exciting, and there is no real reason to get out of bed in the morning.
The way to prevent and even reverse burnout is to find your creativity and zest for life again. Some of the functional medicine experts we have worked with recommend three ways to tap into your energetic spring again: regular reflection, daily play, and learning how to enter the creative flow state in any situation.
Reflection helps you identify aspects of your life where burnout is likely or has already occurred. It is also an opportunity to practice gratitude for what is going well, one of the best ways to prevent burnout. When you are busy being grateful, your perspective shifts. Gratitude leads to happiness with the present, rather than always reaching for more, which eventually leads to burnout.
The second aspects are play and creativity – these go hand in hand. Play is simply daily free time, even just 15-20 minutes, where you enjoy a hobby or do something fun for the sake of fun.
The time spent in play is where your creativity springs from, it gives you the mental and emotional space to enter the flow state, to tap into your creative power that is always there. When you give yourself time to unleash your creativity through play, you become more resilient emotionally, which bleeds into every aspect of your life.
While these three simple changes can get you started on the path to recovery, it’s important to remember you don’t have to take this journey alone. Speaking to a professional can help you get there faster. Having the right guide can help you regain your mental, physical, and spiritual health, so you can find your joy again.
– Amir Ginsebrg at WebFMD
Meditation can be a fantastic tool to use when you’re recovering or looking to prevent burnout and is a very accessible practice that anyone can try. There are many different types of meditation, but one that can be very helpful in this situation is loving-kindness meditation, which aims to enhance feelings of compassion and love for others. Because one component of burnout is a feeling of depersonalization or feeling disconnected from life, this form of meditation can be a great choice to help you reconnect with your emotions. In fact, there have been studies showing that a compassion-focused meditation practice helped people recover from burnout and improved their wellness.
Social connection is also vital when it comes to burnout. When people experience burnout, they often withdraw socially and become more isolated. Reaching out to others who you trust is therefore extremely important. They can remind you of your own positive qualities, which helps you deal with the burnout-induced feelings of low self-worth. You can then reconnect with positive emotions like joy and gratitude. Seek support from friends and family, instead of trying to go through this alone. Doing so will only strengthen your long-term bonds with these people, which will continue to support your health and well-being in the future.
Burnout is complex, and every person is different. Your recovery plan will likely include more than these two techniques, but these are essential components that can both help prevent and support your recovery from burnout, not to mention, enhance your quality of life for many years to come.
One more thing to consider about burnout. Burnout not only sucks the enjoyment out of your days, but it can also even rob you of years of healthy life. A number of studies have shown that burnout causes the telomeres at the end of your chromosomes to shorten more rapidly, meaning that it increases the rate of biological aging. If you want to live a long and healthy life, it’s essential to recognize and address any feelings of burnout.
– Dr. Patricia Shelton, MD at LongevIQ
What are some uncommon signs of burnout?
Some of the more uncommon symptoms of burnout are not so much uncommon as they are not typically associated with burnout. Be on the lookout for things like “phantom” physical aches and pains, GI distress, difficulty sleeping and increased substance use. People often self-medicate their stress with alcohol and other drugs. And stress-related burnout often manifests itself in our physiology. Hence, GI distress, aches and pains, and trouble sleeping. Talk to your doctor if these symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks.”
– Randy Withers, LCMHC at Blunt Therapy
Why does burnout occur even when we love our jobs?
Burnout occurs even when we love our jobs because business owners often wear many hats and put business and client obligations before personal health. There are many things one can outsource but health is not one of them. No one will benefit from sleep you don’t get, but everyone around you, including family, employees, and customers will be affected by the lack of it when it shows up as sloppiness in your work and missed obligations.
No one but you gains an advantage from your nutrition, and there are no benefits from fruits and vegetables or vitamin supplements you don’t consume on a regular basis. Eating crappy foods may be convenient, especially during a burnout period, but your health will pay the price and the way crappy foods make you feel will extend the burnout period.
The same is true for exercise, movement is a huge contributor to mental and physical well-being. You can hire a fitness trainer, but unless you show up for the workouts and do the reps, you don’t get toned, or reap the benefits that exercise provides. Skipping or ignoring personal health is one of the biggest factors in burnout.
Oddly enough, when you take of yourself, you are better equipped overall to take care of those around you. Loving your job is only part of the equation, you also have to love and take care of yourself.
– Angela Brown, CEO of Savvy Cleaner
How can individuals tell the difference between burnout and depression?
From my experience working with business owners for over a decade, burnout tends to occur when someone has been pushing through a lot of internal resistance (i.e.: stress, confidence issues, and other conflicts in the mind), overworking, and feeling emotionally unfilled for a period of time. Whereas, depression is typically caused by either an acute sense of loss (i.e.: grieving) or a chronic sense of unfulfillment in life. Both require some mindset shifts, but depression caused by a chronic sense of unfulfillment often requires some deeper emotional healing.
– Alicia Cramer at AliciaCramer.com
When is it time to ask for professional help when you are burnt out?
Burnout can be a very debilitating condition if left untreated. The reality is that as the days go by, individuals encounter very stressful situations that over time can lead to significant mental and physical fatigue in the form of burnout. In particular, with the ongoing pressures associated with workplace-related stress the cases of burnout have increased dramatically and even more so with the pandemic. With that said, if your burnout is leading to physical impairment, suicidal thoughts, apathy towards relationships, and or social anxiety then it may be time to consult with a professional for help. Essentially, it is important to be proactive about your mental health and if you feel like you are struggling with burnout, it is definitely time to seek out professional help. A therapist can help you understand the root cause of your stress and work with you to develop healthy coping mechanisms. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, they can also provide you with the necessary support to keep you safe and get you the help you need. If your burnout is impacting your work, it is also important to seek out professional help so that you can create a plan to prevent further deterioration of your condition. To assess whether or not you have burnout try asking yourself the following questions:
- How often do you feel overwhelmed by your work?
- Do you find that you are unable to focus on tasks or complete them in a timely manner?
- Do you frequently feel exhausted, both mentally and physically?
- Do you often have difficulty sleeping or find that you are not getting enough rest?
- Do you find yourself withdrawing from social activities or hobbies that you used to enjoy?
- Do you feel like you are not living up to your potential?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it is time to seek professional help. There are many resources available to individuals struggling with burnout and seeking help is the first step in managing your condition. Remember, you are not alone and there is help available. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support.
– Maya Ahmed at Cedarway Therapy
How can business owners contribute to preventing burnout from their employees?
I firmly believe that everyone in your business is equally responsible for the well-being of work colleagues. When it comes to employees it is not just about providing them with a job and a salary but also ensuring they have the time and space to do what makes them happy.
If you are an employer, you should provide your team members with opportunities to develop their skills and grow professionally. You can do this by providing multiple tasks that need to be completed and letting the employee choose which one they would like to work on first. Doing this will benefit everyone in the long run.
I think the most important thing to remember when dealing with employee burnout is that it is not always something that can be prevented. When one of your employees becomes burned out, it is usually because there was too much work or the person did not receive enough support on the task they were given.
Your goal as an employer is to figure out why the employee feels so overwhelmed and then take steps to address those issues. For example, if your employee has been working on a project for several weeks and still hasn’t finished it, they may need extra help. Or maybe the employee needs more training on how to complete specific tasks.
Whatever the case, it’s essential to listen to your employees’ concerns and offer solutions instead of ignoring them.
– Kyle Crisp at kcwebdesign.com.au
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