How to recover from burnout


Do you ever feel you’re taking on too much at work? You’re not alone. Throughout the developed world, chronic work-related stress, more commonly known as burnout, is on the rise, with a 2018 Gallup study finding that in the US alone, two-thirds of employees experience burnout at least some of the time. In Europe, employee burnout is on the rise. So it’s essential to look out for the signs of burnout. 

You may feel like you can just push through the burnout, and things will get better, but ignoring the problem may make it worse, possibly leading to anxiety and depression, and with mental health issues being the leading cause for work absence in the UK. As well as the most common claim for income protection, it’s essential to look after your mental health. In last week’s blog post, we discussed the signs of burnout, here’s a quick recap.

Common symptoms of burnout

Exhaustion – Struggling to get through the day awake, or needing to go to bed as soon as you get home.

Unable to switch off –  A healthy work-life balance is the key to keeping your personal and work lives in order. If you come home and can’t stop thinking about work, to the point you struggle to relax or do anything while you’re off, it may be a sign of burnout.

Insomnia – The stress of chronic burnout can interfere with your sleeping patterns, resulting in struggling to sleep, waking too early, or going whole nights without sleep.

Poor performance – Unfortunately, worrying about work all the time, is likely to negatively impact your work, resulting in you struggling to do basic tasks. 

Physical and mental health conditions – Over time, the increased stress and exhaustion that comes with burnout can cause people to develop a range of health conditions, both physical and mental, including depression, anxiety, digestive issues, alcohol dependency, and obesity.  

How burnout impacts the workplace

It’s not just employees that should be concerned about burnout, if you’re an employer and see it in your employees you should be concerned too. Employee burnout is associated with high employee turnover, higher than average sickness rates, and workplace conflicts. All of which can hit your bottom line.

So if you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms, either in yourself, or your employers, here are some strategies to help you cope.

Set aside time to unwind from work.

After a busy day, many of us just want to get home, but if you’ve had a stressful day and go straight back from work, you will bring some of the pressure into your home life. Set aside a short amount of time in between and spend it doing something that helps you relax. Whether that’s reading, meditation, working out, or anything else you enjoy, use that time to calm down, so you can enjoy the rest of your evening.

Log out when the day’s over.

As more of us work from home, it’s easy to see the upsides. Saving time and money on the morning commute has lowered stress for many people, but as we navigate the new normality, there are other stressors to watch out for. By accessing your work emails and software on your home computer, the lines between work and home get blurred. If it’s after hours and you find yourself looking through your work emails, that means that work is eating into your home life. So unless you’re on call for the evening, log out when you finish for the day. There’s not going to be anything that can’t wait until the morning.

Find things to focus on outside of work.

Surprisingly, those who enjoy their work are more likely to experience burnout than those who don’t. Part of this is because those who enjoy their work are more likely to feel defined by their careers, so when the job’s stress becomes too much, it hits their identity. Finding work you enjoy is excellent, but don’t let it define you. Find fulfilling ways of spending time outside of work that challenge you, whether that’s a sport, volunteering, or any other thing that you find rewarding.

Breakdown your work and prioritize

When you have a lot to do, it can be overwhelming, and sometimes you might not know where to start, but it’s often not as bad as you think once you break it down. So take a short amount of time to write down the things you need to accomplish, once you’ve got them written down, you’ll find you won’t stress so much about missing something out, and you’ll be able to see which tasks are urgent as well as which ones can wait. 

Talk to your employer.

Depending on how your organization is, this might be a hard chat to have, but it’s essential, both for yourself and your company, that you tell your supervisor when you’re struggling. Some people find it difficult to say no to their bosses, but if you’re already stretched and continue to take on new projects at work, you’ll hurt yourself and the company.

Unfortunately, some employers may not be willing to have these conversations or be dismissive of your claims, and at that point, it’s okay to think about moving on. A company with employees that are always dealing with burnout is not a healthy workplace.

However you deal with burnout, don’t forget to protect your finances.

As we mentioned in this blog post, mental health claims are on the rise and are, in fact, the leading cause of sick days in the UK, and one of the most common reasons for claiming income protection. As burnout can lead to both mental and physical health conditions, make sure you protect yourself financially from the impact. VouchForMe’s income protection insurance helps you pay the bills when you’re unable to work for an extended period. Click here to find out more.

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