When it comes to dealing with mental or physical exhaustion, recognising the symptoms is half the battle.
When you hear the word ‘burnout’, you might be reminded of the famous racing game. But that’s not what we are talking about here! The psychological definition of burnout is ‘a condition of long term exhaustion along with diminished interest’. Every now and then most of us tend to hit the wall. While many bounce back fairly quickly, for others, it may take a wee bit longer to recognise the symptoms and get back in the swing of things. Pronounced cynicism and a sense of detachment from everything happening around you are signs that you’re close to being burnt out. It’s usually the result of being under too much pressure.
More often than not, burnout is associated with our emotional well-being. With our fast-paced lifestyle and its modern mantra of ‘work hard and party harder’, one tends to be physically exhausted with late night parties that extend into the morning, even during the week. Once just limited to Mondays, morning blues are now a more common occurrence. And it’s not just about physical exhaustion.
So, how do you recognise the symptoms of burnout?
It need not hit you like a ton of bricks. To begin with, you might feel low for no specific reason. If you are up late working or exercising too hard, a physical burnout is not too far away. Unlike physical exhaustion, the stress that can cause emotional burnout is harder to recognise. But if you feel dissatisfied with work or if you feel like your creative juices are just not flowing, a burnout might not be too far away.
There are several ways to prevent burnout and fight stress. Instead of popping pills to lower the anxiety levels, try a fresh start to the day. A bit of meditation will relax the mind, or jog a couple of rounds in the nearby park. You might want to try sipping on your tea sitting in your garden. Don’t think about those reports that need finishing or errands you need to run. A good start to the day will keep you energised as it goes on. But if you feel lethargy creeping up slowly, counter it by consuming plenty of fluids. Be careful not to overdo the coffee whenever you feel a yawn-attack coming on! Instead, choose something healthier like green tea, lemonade or, even better, plain water.
Burnout generally happens when you take on too many responsibilities or because of work overload. It’s nice to lend people a helping hand, but acting as a soundboard all the time isn’t the best way to counter emotional stress. Sometimes, it helps not to always be the shoulder everyone leans on. Saying no will not make you a bad person - sometimes, you need to take care of yourself first.
Just like gadgets need recharging, so do your body and mind. Technology connects us to everything and everybody all the time. Sometimes we’re guilty of being too connected, what with checking messages and emails in the middle of the night, and even replying to them! But once in a while it is good to de-tech yourself. Switch off your phone and computer and disengage. Less worrying about constant deadlines means less chance of a burnout.
For a change of pace, indulge in something you haven’t done for a long time. Try some gardening, snuggle into your favourite corner with the latest paperback, or catch up on your sleep. If you can manage to get a few days off, go on a holiday. There’s no better way to recharge than getting away from the grind. The absence of your everyday chores can be a blessing. If time is a luxury you cannot afford, try a bit of retail therapy or a day at the spa. It’s bound to do wonders to your body and mind.
Before burnout gets a grip on you, learn to recognise the symptoms and fight back. With a bit of re-organising or maybe just a good night’s sleep, you can fight stress and be ready to take on the world!