I never thought that ‘burnout’ will be something that would affect me. I was comfortable in my job as a school teacher until Covid-19 threw its curveball.
Ever since the pandemic forced my school to move online, I’ve been going nuts trying to balance work deadlines and spending time with my family. Working from home and meeting the needs of one’s family surely make strange bedfellows.
Things reached such a flashpoint that I switched off my phone and emails for a few days to escape from the pressure.
For three straight days, I did not step outside my house. I knew that something wasn’t right. But that gave me enough time to calm down and think straight. After three days I went online and googled ‘work stress’. A few clicks later my browser started pointing to one word — ‘burnout’.
In the past, burnout was associated with high-stress jobs like the military, police, and firefighting. Now it is commonplace among corporate employees, teachers, and even students. Burnout is not a new phenomenon, and Covid-19 seems to have added fuel to the fire.
The more I read, the more I felt the need to take immediate action. I recognized the symptoms of burnout, and I did what I had to make things right – right in the nick of time.
I want to help you too. Here are the results of my search on burnout.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a total loss of motivation and energy to do your daily activities, usually in your workplace. It is a negative emotional reaction that makes a person give up and run away from their job. It is located on the dangerous path between stress and depression — and can even lead to suicide.
How can you identify burnout?
Burnout manifests itself in various emotional and physical forms. When you find the following symptoms often in your life, it could suggest the possibility of burnout.
- Constant exhaustion from work
- A lack of satisfaction in your work
- A feeling that your efforts go unrewarded
- A sense of powerlessness
- Finding yourself alone, uninterested to join friends or colleagues during leisure hours
- A feeling that the whole world is conspiring against you
- Lack of sleep
- Taking too much time in getting ready for work
- A general feeling of pessimism
- Unexplainable physical ailments such as headaches or stomach problems
- Distrust in coworkers, friends, or family
- Dependence on food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better
Having said this, be aware that the above symptoms need not necessarily be due to burnout. There are many tests online that will help in identifying whether you’re heading for a burnout. Here is one such online tool that will help make sense of what’s happening.
What is the reason for burnout?
Burnout happens due to more than one reason and happens at the end of a series of behavioral changes. It can be identified early enough and treated. If not, it will lead to depression.
Burnout at work
The workplace has many chronic stressors which lead to burnout. When the work schedules or workload makes you feel helpless, or if the job is monotonous in nature it could lead to burnout. Another common cause is negativity from colleagues in the form of non-cooperation or bullying. A nasty boss can turn the office into a living hell for employees.
Burnout as a student
Stress impacts students all the time. One reason is the inability to keep up with the pace of studies. The distraction due to social media is a major culprit here. Another classic reason is the pressure from peers or parents to perform.
Burnout due to covid
The covid pandemic has created a sense of uncertainty. We have no idea when things will get back to normal. Many employers expect the employees to be available 24/7. The boss thinks that he has done a favor to the employees by allowing them to work from the comfort of their homes.
How can you avoid burnout?
Food plays a big role in your emotional health. Consumption of unhealthy fats, sugary foods, and excess caffeine are things to avoid. Complete Get rid of your nicotine habit and maintain moderation in alcohol.
A good night’s sleep can do wonders to boost your mental health.
Engage yourself in games, walking, running, cycling, swimming — anything that helps get the blood flowing. Dancing is a great way to achieve the same.
Clearly demarcate time for work. Even when you are working from home, make sure to wind up at a fixed time.
Saying no to requests that you are unsure of, is a life skill that has to be practiced. It will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
Create time for leisure
Deliberately set a schedule for leisure activities like watching a movie, going for a hike, or even make a short trip if possible.
This includes your negative thoughts as well as negative people.
Spending time with family helps to take the mind off stress-causing things from work. So bust out that board game with the kids and kick out the stressors.
The practice of yoga, meditation, prayer, or any other spiritually enriching activity will help you to be grateful for the positive aspects of life.
Find something creative to do which will take your mind off work-related stress. Now is the perfect time to resume your favorite hobby or start something new.
Establish a goal
Setting a personal goal and working towards it will create positive emotions. It will give you something to look forward to at the end of a grueling work schedule.
Open up to friends and family
If you find yourself with the symptoms of burnout, please share it with someone. Your friends and family will be ready to help.
Get professional help
The above tips could help to escape burnout in most cases. But sometimes you may have to seek the help of a mental health professional to deal with the problem. Do not hesitate to do that if needed.
I was unable to demarcate time between my job and family. I found myself carrying on late into the night with office work. My seven-year-old — who is without a friend to play with due to covid restrictions — expects dad to spend more time with her as he is always home. I was stuck in a jam and things went south pretty soon.
I revived my writing as a therapy for burnout. Right now, the satisfaction I get when I complete a blog post is immeasurable. My wife says that I am full of the joys of spring, and my daughter is happy to have her dad spend more time with her. This positivity is the medicine for burnout.
Burnout is a problem that affects not just your work but your personal life as well. In the long run, it can cause physical as well as mental health issues. Give it due consideration and treat it immediately.