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Lucy Turns Pages: Burnout: How To Spot It, How To Stop It

Burnout: How To Spot It, How To Stop It

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The last few years have been, by any standards, a bit much for most people. As we entered 2020, we had absolutely no idea what lay in wait. Since then, we’ve had a crash course in dealing with adverse events and, for many of us, that’s come alongside continuing to do our jobs, whether from home or in the workplace. And so it won’t be a huge surprise if you’re feeling some of the symptoms of burnout right now. But how can you tell if you have burnout, and what should you do if you suspect it to be the case?

What exactly is burnout?

Burnout is a form of exhaustion that is driven by a feeling of being swamped, usually by your job. It is experienced by people who don’t feel as though they have a moment to spare, and it can cause severe mental health deficits.

How do you know if you have burnout?

This is the tricky part. Often, people who are suffering from burnout won’t identify it in themselves, because they will be too wrapped up in their work to recognise it. It often falls to family or friends to notice the telltale signs, which include irritability, an inability to take pleasure in passing milestones, and a sense of detachment. Often, people experiencing burnout will feel like nothing they do is good enough - which can lead to scrapping work already done and inadvertently deepening the issue.

How do you go about treating burnout?

As one might imagine with a condition that is tricky to diagnose, burnout can also be tough to treat, because it may take some time to even acknowledge it in yourself. However, once it is acknowledged, the first step in dealing with burnout is to take a step back from things. Reschedule deadlines, assign the work to someone else, restructure a project, whatever it takes - you are not going to recover from burnout while the conditions that have led to it are still in place. It is also important to get plenty of sleep and put some distance between you and work: go for a walk; spend time with family, friends and pets; just “touch grass” as the slang goes.

Also, because burnout often hides a deeper issue, consider therapy for the short or long term. Look into a business listing site for local sources of counselling and look for ways to develop a healthier relationship with your work. This will lessen the chance of recurrence.

What do you do when you’re over the worst?

It’s always tough to tell when a stressful time has come to an end, but you’ll usually recognise that feelings of burnout have lifted when you’re able to take joy in life and see things in perspective again. This does not mean that it’s time to return to normal - it means you can start to think about your way back to work and how you’re going to change things so that there is no recurrence of the feeling that took you out before.

It’s often hard to see burnout in yourself, and you may even react with anger to someone who points it out to you. Bear in mind that the people who see you are those best placed to recognise a change, and listen to them when they tell you what they are seeing.

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