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How to Prevent Burnout - The Guide to Healing Emotional Exhaustion

What is burnout?

Are you feeling emotionally exhausted, have a decrease in sense of accomplishment and are feeling emotional detached from your work or relationships? These may be indications that you are experiencing burnout.

The term burnout was coined by the psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger and describes a severe stress condition that leads to severe physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) have relabeled burnout, officially classifying it as an occupational syndrome. According to WHO, the newly listed dimensions of burnout are characterized by:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  • Increased mental distance from one’s job

  • Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job

  • Reduced professional efficacy

What causes burnout?

Essentially burnout can happen when a person takes on too much than they can handle. There may be a lack of control and social support you are facing in your workplace or relationships.

It is important not to confuse burnout with stress. Stress is short-lived or tied to a specific goal whereas burnout is a prolonged period of stress that feels never-ending and contributes to feelings of hopelessness.

Burnout may cause you to dread your job, have feelings of irritability, cynicism, anger and lack motivation. You may feel unrecognized and no longer challenged or excited in your career.

When you are completely overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted yet still feel like you are not doing enough - that is when you have reached burnout.

Are you experiencing burnout? Here are some of the signs:

  • Experiencing feelings of sadness, depression, failure, hopelessness or apathy

  • Becoming easily frustrated Feeling tired, exhausted or overwhelmed

  • Using negative coping strategies

  • Blaming others or feeling irritable

  • Feeling disassociated, indifferent or apathetic

  • Socially isolating or disconnecting from others

  • Unable to recover your physical and emotional energy

  • Practising poor self-care

Tips and Tricks on how to manage or overcome burnout:

How to prevent burnout?

So now that we have discussed the definition of burnout and the causes of it, let's dive into how to manage burnout.

Listed below are some tips and tricks to help manage and prevent burnout. Please note that we are all unique and while one strategy may work for someone else it may not work for you and that’s okay! Use a strategy that best suits you. When you feel yourself beginning to spiral into burnout, take a step back and use one of the techniques below to ground yourself.

Recognizing Burnout…

The most important step is recognizing you are dealing with burnout. It is important to take a step back and analyze the events and situations that have caused you to feel emotionally exhausted. Now that you have the tools to know what Burnout is and what the signs are, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it!

Prioritize your basic needs

It comes down to our basic needs such as food, water and sleep. Taking the time to ensure you eat healthy, stay hydrated and sleep regularly can help manage and prevent burnout. You can start by creating a routine that commits you to taking care of yourself and your basic needs.

Exercise or take deliberate breaks

Not everyone loves working out and that’s okay! If your’e not into a hardcore workout session, try yoga and meditating or even going on a walk outside. Just taking the time to stretch and get some fresh air can help you stay mindful. Perform body scans throughout the day – monitor for tense muscles, shallow breathing, a tight chest or an increased heart rate. Take a deep breath.

Creative Self Expression

Try using art or words to express your feelings. Writing in a journal can help you better understand yourself and what you are going through. If you feel like being artistic, you can draw, paint or create something new. Self expression can help alleviate feelings of emotional exhaustion. A new perspective may be just the trick you need to recognize all the things you are juggling and what is causing your burnout.

Stay connected

Take time to chat with your colleagues, family and friends. It is important to be able to debrief with someone about your day! Enjoying other peoples company can allow you to relax and have fun. Develop a buddy system for daily check-ins. Stay connected with your loved ones.

If you or someone you know is struggling with burnout, it can be beneficial to seek out a counsellor. Here at Avery Therapy Centre, we can help you manage your burnout. Our counsellors can assist clients struggling with burnout to connect the dots between their symptoms and the root of the problem. Learn more about our team and book a consultation when you're ready!

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