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BURN OUT: HOW TO RECOGNISE IT AND WORK THROUGH IT




Happy New year everyone! I hope you’ve all settled into the year and are looking after yourselves. We are currently in exam season and on top of this we still have coursework, placements and lectures waiting just around the corner! With this, there is a danger of burning out. This blog post is dedicated to educate you about burnout, factors that can increase your likelihood of burnout and the best way to avoid it.


What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion as a result of prolonged stress. It usually occurs when you constantly feel overwhelmed, are emotionally drained, and are unable to meet deadlines.


Five main stages of burnout


1. Honeymoon Phase


When we carry out a new task, most of us will start by experiencing high energy, motivation and commitment to the task and or the role at hand. It is also possible that you start to experience “normal” stresses.


--> Common Symptoms of Stage 1

· Strong desire to prove yourself

· High productivity levels

· Readily accepting responsibility

· Sustained energy levels


2. Onset of Stress


The second stage starts with a realisation that some days are harder than others. Here, your optimism for this work starts decreasing and stress related symptoms may start affecting your physically and mental health.


--> Common Symptoms of Stage 2

· Anxiety

· Procrastination

· Change in diet

· Fatigue, headache

· Lack of social interaction

· Decreased productivity

· High blood pressure, unusually heart rhythms


3. Chronic stress


There is a noticeable change in your stress levels, and there is also increased frequency of feeling stressed.


--> Common Symptoms of Stage 3

· Anger and aggression

· Chronic exhaustion

· Feeling pressures/ out of control

· Increased alcohol/ drug consumption

· Physical illness

· Social withdrawal from loved ones


4. Burnout


This is where you reach burnout. At this stage, there is a struggle to cope because the symptoms you experience become intense. We all have individual limits of tolerance therefore, one person’s burnout stage can look different to someone else’s,


--> Common Symptoms Include

· Chronic health problems (i.e. headaches, GI problems)

· Complete neglect of your own needs

· Pessimistic outlook on work / life

· Obsession over problems at work or in life

· Escapist mentality


5. Habitual Burnout


At the last stage, the symptoms of burnout are so ingrained in your daily routine that you experience ongoing mental and physical problems. It becomes a chronic problem.


--> Common symptoms include

· Chronic mental fatigue

· Chronic physical fatigue

· Depression


So how can you overcome this?

Burnout can be caused if your workload exceeds your physical and mental capacity.

With this, there is little opportunity to rest and recover.


To battle this, unmanageable workload and unreasonable time pressure, you could try to create a healthier work environment.

--> This can be done by planning your work using an organised priority list which will help manage the tasks at hand.

- The skill of time management will become your best friend as you progress through life and this can be achieved by delegating tasks and most importantly, learning how to say no.

Another cause of burnout is having the perception that lack control of your situations.

When you find yourself in this position, first identify what has lead you to feel this way. Whether the answer to this question is external or internal pressures, think of ways that can help you shift your situation:

- Can you talk to your personal tutor about issues?

-Can you have more resources to help you with the task at hand?


Once the answer to this has been found, you identify things that can influence your environment and change the situation.

Other tips and tricks to help!

-

A holiday or time away from work may offer some temporary relief, but once you get back to working the burnout may start again.

This is why it may help to start implementing positive coping strategies, such as taking practical steps to support your wellbeing alongside your worklife.


- This can look like healthy eating, getting plenty of exercise and practicing healthy sleep habits to reduce the stress of university.


And finally, before the burnout gets to a stage of non-repair, try talking to a mental health professional who could help you!

Resources

Here are 4 great mental health apps that you can access when appropriate for you. These resources allow anonymous and easy tools.

· Headspace- Teaches meditation and mindfulness a few minutes a day

· Moodpath –Brings an awareness of your mood and wellbeing

· 7 cups – Connects you to caring listeners for free emotional support

· Super Better –Builds resilience


There are so many apps out there, however this is not in any way a suitable replacement for speaking to a professional.


I hope you find my tips and tricks useful and that this blog impacts you in a positive way. Watch this space for the next blog in the series!



Amanda Dhliwayo: Health and Wellbeing Lead

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