Due to the pandemic, the boundaries between work and leisure have become eroded. Our schedules, job security, financial stability, working environments, and responsibilities, have been impacted or under threat. It's no surprise that 1 in 5 UK workers say they are unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work. This hostile environment and destruction of a healthy work-life balance can result in burnout – a state of physical and emotional exhaustion – recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘occupational phenomenon’.
Feeling tired or drained most of the time
Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
Feeling detached/alone in the world
Having a cynical/negative outlook
Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
Burnout is not only disruptive to our daily lives, but also hugely detrimental to our overall health. With modern pressures and the uncertainty unprecedented times bring, it’s more important than ever to actively prevent ourselves from burning out.
As cliché as it sounds, self-care is crucial. This isn’t simply lighting a candle and getting on with your day, to be meaningful a holistic approach is needed. With a busy schedule, it’s important to make time to restore your physical and emotional energy. A good sleep routine, balanced diet, exercise, and social connection are all powerful tools. Carve out time to do the little things that bring you joy, and bit by bit your cup will be refilled.
Identify what is causing unhealthy stress in your life and look to implement boundaries that will protect you. Manage the expectations of your colleagues, bosses, friends, and family - if you’re the kind of person that always say yes to everybody it’s time to stop. Taking a step back and prioritising better will improve your long-term productivity and protect your health.
Putting your needs first will ease exhaustion, but many of us will still need to face the situations that left us feeling burnt out to begin with. The only way is through – think about what’s in your control, and what isn’t. Instead of opening your work laptop every day with dread in the pit of your stomach, and a defeated attitude, start reframing your thoughts. Is there a colleague I could reach out to for help? Which tasks can be done later? How can my work support me?
It’s more important than ever to feel connected to the ones we love and have common ground with. There are plenty of distractions fighting for our attention, but we are social creatures that thrive off interaction and support. If work is the main reason you feel burnt out, chances are some of your colleagues are feeling the same - reach out and look for positive solutions to your shared situation.
Burnout isn’t always strictly work-related - physical health, poor relationships, a stressful home life, isolation, and money worries are all significant. What’s become apparent during lockdown is that the stresses of work, combined with the additional pressures brought about by the pandemic are having a big impact on our wellbeing.
Burnout will not go away if you ignore it, it will manifest in different ways until you are unable to function. To get back on track it’s always good to talk. There are many psychotherapists and counsellors, trained in recognising the symptoms of burnout, who offer support along with a plan for recovery. Talking therapies can include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and group therapy.