In case you haven’t noticed, we live in an incredibly fast-paced world. Add on top of that a worldwide pandemic, civil rights unrest, an uncertain election and a recession and well, it would be understandable if you weren’t quite feeling yourself at the moment. Even without all of the above, when life continues to pile things on, your mental and emotional wellbeing can be compromised. The result is sometimes what is commonly referred to as ‘burn out’ and this can have serious consequences for our mental and physical health.
What is burn out?
The term burnout was first coined in the 1970s by the psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger.
It is the result of the accumulation of ever-increasing pressure in our daily lives. This constant and relentless state of chronic stress results in feelings of fatigue, exhaustion and a host of other symptoms. When you arrive at a point of full-fledged burnout, it becomes increasingly difficult to function at a personal and professional level. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the signs so that you take heed before things get too far. These include but are not limited to:
- Chronic fatigue
- Forgetfulness/difficulty concentrating
- Physical symptoms including getting sick more frequently
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of productivity
So, what can we do to prevent it before it comes and if it happens - how can we bounce back? Firstly, it goes without saying that if you are experiencing some of the symptoms above that you should talk to your GP. There are also some steps you can take alongside getting support to help you begin to take things back.
Regardless of what we’re feeling – we need to take care of ourselves. We need to sleep, we need to eat and we need to stay hydrated. When we’re high performers and/or have a lot on our plate, it’s important to remind ourselves of this as we can often find ourselves skipping meals, swapping water for coffee and neglecting sleep. Make a plan each day to make sure you are nourishing yourself and staying hydrated. On top of that, one simple thing you can do to ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need is to, at the very least, ensure you have a serving of Good Green Vitality each day. This will provide you with both immune and stress support as well as your daily dose of important vitamins and minerals to support your body’s needs.
Too much on your plate? Learn to say no. The world will continue to rotate if you begin to set some boundaries for yourself. Often, people who get burnout are ‘yes’ people. They keep piling on more than they can handle to please those around them. Whenever possible, try flexing your ‘no’ muscles and prioritise some time for yourself. This will ultimately lead to more productivity in the end. Also, whenever possible – delegate!
Be mindful of your devices
Tablets, computers, smartphones etc. They all have a way of taking up a lot of your time and energy. Try to turn these off as much as possible – especially in the hours before you plan to go to sleep. I also highly recommend removing notifications from these devices as not only do they suck you back in – they can be another persistent call to do more on top of what you’ve already got going on.
Move your body
Yes, I know it can be hard to find the time – but do it anyway. We all know the benefits of physical activity for our mental and physical health. It doesn’t have to be high intensity (in fact that may not be helpful), just going for a 10-minute walk at lunchtime to get some fresh air would have its benefits. Try incorporating it into your day by parking further away from the office, doing some squats while you brush your teeth, hosting a walking meeting etc. Better yet, if you have time, try some bedtime yoga to benefit your body and help with sleep.
Engaging in daily mindfulness practices has a profound effect on our mental and physical wellbeing and will be of huge support for you to bring some balance back to your body and mind. This doesn’t mean sitting for an hour cross-legged on your living room floor! Just take some time each day to take some deep breaths from your belly when the pressure mounts or grab yourself one of many free meditation apps and simply sit for a minute, or 10, in quiet solitude and deep breathing.
Remember those friends you haven’t seen for a while because you’ve been too busy? The ones that make you laugh and fill you up with joy – you know the ones. Give them a call and make a plan, laughter is the best medicine.
And so, if at all possible try to avoid getting to the point where it’s difficult to bounce back – by recognising when things aren’t right before they take over. If you’re already there - get the support you need to be your very best self. You have been through a lot – you deserve it!