Burnout: What It Is and How to Avoid It

It can start with days stretching into nights as the struggle to get your tasks done within working hours grows. There’s a persistent sluggishness in your mind and perpetual physical tiredness, which is strange, considering you get a full eight hours of sleep. You might not even remember the last time you weren’t stressed during your waking hours. Add all of these to the growing feeling of demotivation for anything, work-related or not, and you’re likely in a bad state of burnout.

As this silent epidemic affects one individual after another, the need to quickly identify and prevent it has become more apparent.

What Is Burnout? The Tell-Tale Signs

How does burnout happen? When one is exposed to prolonged periods of severe stress, such as facing constant demands at work, taking care of a terminally ill loved one, or processing mentally draining current events, it leads to a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.

Healthcare professionals, for instance, are more susceptible to burnout because of the demanding nature of their jobs; saving lives is no joke, especially in the time of a pandemic. In fact, one study lists the different factors of burnout and found that about a quarter of Indian healthcare professionals experienced all three: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment.

There are several tell-tale signs of burnout that become more prominent at different times in its progression.

  1. Always feeling tired and/or sleepy
  2. Irritability
  3. Feeling overwhelmed
  4. Constantly having escape fantasies
  5. Procrastination
  6. Frequently falling ill
  7. Preference for isolation

Knowing how to identify these symptoms and differentiate them from fatigue can help prevent the progression of severe burnout, which can then lead to serious physical and psychological conditions, such as hypertension and depression.

How to Treat and Avoid Burnout

Stress is a normal part of daily life, especially at work, and it can be healthy in our drive for success. While stress cannot be avoided, burnout can certainly be prevented.

Mindfulness: Identifying the Signs

One of the first steps to treating and avoiding burnout is knowing the signs. Understanding what burnout looks like compared to healthy and productive work habits will help you become more aware of how your stress levels are developing. If stress is starting to cause you to neglect self-care and personal needs, then it’s probably a sign you’re starting to burn out.

Set Boundaries

One of the biggest causes of increased burnout is the blurred boundary between work and personal life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While people understand that time for meals, sleep, and exercise are important, these boundaries end up becoming non-existent, resulting in a disruption of routine and work-life balance.

Setting up a designated working space and being firm with work hours can help you establish clear boundaries at home. Making time for exercise and sleep is also a good way to set healthy boundaries and habits to ensure that you get the rest and physical activity you need.

Stress Management

Stress management can be difficult when things feel like they’re spiraling out of control. Seeking the help of a professional through a tele-mental appointment can be highly beneficial since it can break you out of maladaptive stress patterns without stressing you further with the hassle of a physical consultation. If burnout is causing your self-regulating abilities for stress to fail, then scheduling a call might be the best option.

The Bottom Line on Burnout

Burnout can creep up on anybody, especially those who are more susceptible to stress. What feels like an ordinarily stressful day might turn into weeks of little sleep, long working hours, and lost motivation. This can bring on a whole host of medical issues that are difficult to manage during this time, which is why healthcare management apps like Gigadocs are a great tool to have for online appointment setting, record maintenance, and others. Learn more about our features today!

Contributed by Beth Thompson

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