Psychology Today describes ‘burnout’ as: ‘an extended period of stress that feels as though it cannot be ameliorated.’
We’d like to add that synonyms for burnout might include; 2020; home-schooling; another Zoom meeting that could have been an email; waiting for online shopping to arrive for human interaction, and, the feeling of seeing a “Sorry this product is unavailable – please check again soon” ticket in the toilet paper aisle. Joking aside; it’s been a really stressful year, completely unprecedented, and despite the stay-at-home directives, people have had to keep working; it hasn’t at all been ‘Netflix and chill’.
Burnout is real, debilitating and incredibly impactful on the individual, families, communities, employees and businesses. It’s not limited to overworked doctors. It is beyond feeling “a bit tired” or run down. Whilst burnout is especially prevalent in the caregiving and/or high-pressure professions, this year has brought significant and prolonged challenges across the majority of (if not all) vocations – including parenting. And, regardless of how many times we sing ‘Auld, Lang Syne’ at midnight January 1 2021, the risk of burnout is heightened, and, here to stay.
As such, we should be mindful of burnout prevention strategies and focused on maintaining and elevating our mental health and wellness, and that of our loved ones’.
Research tells us that in order to decrease risk of burnout we should:
- Engage in meaningful work, hobbies, friendships and relationships – committing to a true balance of all
- Practise good sleep hygiene – go to bed at the same time each night, rise at the same time every morning; leave devices out of the bedroom – including TVs, and ensure the bedroom is a place for sleep and affection only
- Eat well and exercise regularly – outdoors especially
- Participate in community – never underestimate the value of community contribution such as volunteering, donating or even just taking the time to have a conversation or check-in with someone.
But what if you are worried about someone close to you, or perhaps even yourself? How do you know it’s time to seek help?
Signs or symptoms of burnout include:
- Poor appetite
- Difficulties in sleeping, including oversleeping
- Low motivation
- Low energy, disinterest and/or neglect towards self, and/or others and at work
- Defeated affect and/or presentation
- Quickness to anger and/or heightened state of irritability
- A wavering in attentiveness, honouring of commitments and/or empathy
- New indulgence or excess in alcohol consumption, drugs or anti-social behaviour
Need we remind you; it’s 2020 – year of the global pandemic. Mental health NEEDS to be attended to as much as your LinkedIn profile, and as much as your sheet-mask self-care routine. If you feel that you or someone you know is at risk of burnout, your first step is to see a trusted, empathetic GP. Someone who asks how you’re feeling. Someone who goes beyond physical symptoms. Without mental wellbeing, you are ‘without’, and the only thing that will fix that is positive, professional care and action.
How do YOU protect yourself against burnout from your work or family responsibilities? Do you have any additional, or even left-field tips you could share?