HR & Management

Battling burnout before business becomes bothersome burden

5 min read

04 July 2016

One in four of us feels under pressure at work on a daily basis. Sometimes this “healthy” pressure can become overwhelming, stressful and lead to “burnout – the type of job stress that is often characterised by mental exhaustion combined with self-doubt.

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It often happens when individuals are passionate and committed and have become disillusioned with a job that they feel is their identity. This type of stress can cause mental and physical health problems, here’s a list of ways you can identify and address burnout.

Disengagement

Over-engagement is a symptom of high stress levels. Losing sleep because you can’t stop thinking about a deadline is an example of over engagement.

Helplessness

Stress normally demonstrates a sense of urgency, often resulting in hyperactivity. Anyone facing everlasting deadlines knows the feeling. Burnout, however, is characterised by feeling nervous and having no solutions.

Blunted emotions

When under stress, you may find that your emotions are exaggerated and hard to keep track of. You may become angry or even teary easier than usual as you are a lot more sensitive. Numbed emotions are a sign of exhaustion. You may feel that you do not have the energy to react emotionally to situations.

If you can identify with the above, then here’s what you can do to help yourself:

Acknowledge your problems

When one problem establishes, it’s easy to ignore or kerb other issues in your life that may be contributing to feeling drained. Make a list of all things that concern you every day. Include the things that make you feel powerless and then number them one to ten on what’s most important. This gives you a realistic view of what your issues actually are.

Actively address your problems

Initially, you might feel like this is impossible but once you start to work towards making changes, you’ll find that many problems only exist because you’re scared of approaching them. This is particularly important in the workplace, as most employers would rather go out of their way to help you through your burnout, rather than lose you.

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The following are the most important steps:

• Just speaking about a subject will start to remove some of your feelings of helplessness, and give your employer or manager a chance to try and help you.

• Speak to your employer about new duties you could undertake, or any training opportunities available. Getting out of the rut of doing the same monotonous task on a daily basis is positively motivating. This might help bring the spark back to work.

• Take some time off! Sometimes taking a breather is the only way to give yourself time to re-evaluate your priorities. Make a mindful decision to use this time to reflect on your situation and not just escape from it.

Slow it down

Feelings of being out of control, and that everything is under time-pressure, are common symptoms of long-term stress. Take a few minutes each day to acknowledge your anxieties for what they are; illogical and exaggerated.

Focus on personal activities like spending time with friends and family and outdoor activities. When listening to music or watching movies, make a conscious effort to pay attention and don’t let your mind wonder to stress again – switch the phone off!

Re-evaluate your priorities

If work stress is having an impact on your personal life, it’s time to move on. It’s unhealthy and counterproductive to be thinking about work during whilst you are “off”.

Also, be frank with yourself during the onset of burnout and recognise the stresses that you have surrendered to. Remember, these are simple tips to help you mend your situation in the short term. Burnout has real health implications and we do recommend that you seek professional help in overcoming it.

Ciara McGrath is the head of HR and talent for the Instant Group.

Still concerned? Stay sane as an entrepreneur in seven steps with this guide from a psychiatrist-cum-business owner.