Most people will have experienced stress from time to time. This may be due to redundancy, marital problems or even something positive such as going on holiday. Yet, persistent and prolonged stress can lead to “burnout”. Burnout occurs when you feel completely overwhelmed and unable to meet the demands of your life. You may feel like all of your energy has disappeared along with your interest and motivation, leaving you feeling hopeless and with nothing more to give. This feeling does not usually happen overnight but is a slow gradual process that gets increasingly worse. Listed below are some of the signs to look out for:
Symptoms of Burnout:
A decreased ability to perform tasks
In some cases, there is an increased dependency on drugs or alcohol
Feelings of isolation and loneliness
Feelings of frustration
Feelings of exhaustion
A “what’s the point?” attitude, or failure to find meaning
How can I get my life back on track?
There are many different routes to burnout. It may affect individuals overworked and underpaid from their jobs, those who stay at home trying to juggle housework with children or even those with personalities that just don’t rest. In all of these situations, however, it is important to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel and plenty of available options to get your life back on track.
1. Take back control:
The first step to overcoming burnout is to try and take back the control over events in your life, by making plans of action and carrying them out. Perhaps write a list of goals and objectives that you wish to achieve. This process may help to bring about a higher motivation for performing long-term or everyday necessary tasks.
2. Examine your Motivation:
Your motivation is largely dependent on the consequences of your actions. If you have completed a complex task and receive no recognition or praise, you are less likely to continue performing tasks to such a high standard. In addition you are less likely to continue performing a task that has a negative effect such as a loss. Examine your actions and see where you feel you are not receiving adequate benefits for the effort and time you are putting in. Try and address the balance so that you are getting something out of everything you do, in order to keep motivation high.
Another thing that must be managed is stress. This goes hand in hand with burnout, and so heightens the problem. In order to reduce stress levels it is advisable to break large tasks down into small, manageable steps and to try and make time every day to do something that is enjoyable or relaxing for you. In addition it is helpful to make use of a caring and supportive network of friends and family. They can help you to carry out difficult tasks, and provide you with a feeling of self-worth.
4. Healthy Living:
Try and change some unhealthy living habits such as bad eating or too little sleep. An unhealthy lifestyle will make you less able to deal with the stress in your life and make you unable to relax. By eating healthy, getting regular exercise and cutting down on alcohol and drugs your body and mind will be more prepared for the challenges of daily life, as well as the pleasures of relaxing after a hard day.
In some cases, you may believe your job is the sole cause of your burnout. Try evaluating what it is about your current employment that you dislike. Is it the tasks you must perform, or the people around you? In answering this you will be able to determine whether it is your job or your career that you need to change.
Finally, another option to remember is therapy. Sometimes it can be useful to talk through issues that are causing you concern with a trained professional.