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According to a survey done by Indeed that included 1,500 U.S. workers, burnout is on the rise. Over half (52%) of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021 — up from the 43% who said the same in Indeed’s pre-Covid-19 survey. Baby Boomers show a 7% increase in burnout and Gen-Xers about a 14% jump from last year.
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight: It is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
Stress can sometimes be healthy and used to help perform at peak levels; however, when stress becomes consistent without rest and rejuvenation, it becomes chronic. As a result, it can cause a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, weight gain or loss, and irritability.
Burnout occurred for me when I wasn’t paying attention to the signs and signals of my mind and body. One day, I was working on a huge project when I looked up at the clock and saw it was 4:30 p.m. I realized that I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything, or gone to the bathroom, since 7 a.m. that morning. I eventually landed in the hospital with adrenal fatigue and developed a few chronic illnesses. It took three months to fully recover. Take the time to pay attention to all of the signs of burnout that may be appearing in your life.
Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North developed the 12 phases of burnout syndrome, listed below.
1. Excessive ambition: the compulsion to prove oneself
2. Working harder: working longer hours and an inability to switch off
3. Neglecting needs: neglecting self-care like eating, exercising, sleeping and social interaction
4. Displacement of conflicts and needs: displacing your problems
5. Values are skewed: no time for non-work related needs, work is the only focus, no time for hobbies, friends or family
6. Denial: denial of emerging problems and blaming others
7. Withdrawal: no social life or interaction with loved ones
8. Behavioral changes: changes in behavior obvious to family and friends, inability to concentrate or heightened sensitivity
9. Depersonalization: seeing neither self nor others as valuable and loss of contact with self and own needs
10. Inner emptiness: feeling empty, anxious or addictive behavior
11. Depression: an increasing feeling of meaninglessness, loss and lack of interest
12. Complete burnout: mental or physical exhaustion, symptoms may require medical attention
How to beat burnout and heal from it
External and internal pressures will always be present in life, and yet your health, happiness and relationships do not have to be compromised. Here are some tools and techniques that I have found helpful.
Identify the source. What belief or activity is contributing to burnout, anxiety, worry and stress? What are some alternative ways of thinking about the situation or different actions you can take?
Check in with yourself. How are you currently feeling? How do you want to feel? Awareness is key when assessing the situation and checking in with yourself.
Ask for help. Talk with a therapist, hire a coach, connect with trusted friends and family members. Do not suffer in silence; people want to help. It is okay to ask for and receive help and support.
Protect your peace and prioritize. Your mental, emotional and physical well-being are priceless. When we do not take time to prioritize, both our space and time can be taken over by other people’s requests and demands. Prioritize you and your peace first.
Schedule out your week both for work and play. Is your current schedule supporting you? Take a look at what schedule you are currently following and tweak it to support your peak performance. Schedule out your work week with relaxation and play time included in the plan.
Commit to doing something for yourself every day. How often do you do things for others before doing something for yourself? Commit to doing something for yourself every day. It can be as simple as taking a five-minute walk, reading ten pages in a book or taking a break to call a friend.
Take a day off for no reason. You are allowed to take a mental health day. Take a day off with no distractions and see what happens; it may just shift your perspective on life.
Move your body, meditate and try EFT (emotional freedom technique). Moving your body is critical — get up from your chair and stretch, dance or go for a walk. Get into a meditative state: This can be walking your dog in the park, washing dishes or staring at a candle. Practice EFT (emotional freedom technique), which is an alternative tool that includes tapping different pressure points on the body while speaking positive affirmations to help ease physical pain and emotional distress.
Take back your power. Set boundaries and define your limitations. How often do you say “yes” when you want to say “no”? Put others’ needs before yours? Take back your power and define what your boundaries are to yourself and others.
Pay attention to your needs. What do you need at this moment? Are you getting enough sleep and staying hydrated? It’s so simple, yet so overlooked. What basic needs are you neglecting? Take inventory, then take appropriate action.
Remember what brings you joy. What makes you happy and brings you joy? How often are you doing these things? Make space for your happiness and for the things that bring you joy. Today, how will you experience more joy and happiness? What about this week?
Practice self-compassion and celebration. If you haven’t heard it yet today, you are doing an amazing job. How often are we acknowledging our accomplishments? Think about how far you have come in the past five to ten years. You don’t have to wait for others to celebrate you: You can become your own biggest cheerleader.
Burnout can be prevented and healed. Get curious, slow down, become aware, and utilize the tools, techniques and strategies that can help you along the way.