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From Burnout to Balance: Recovering Your Thriving Self




Burnout is one of the most common issues my clients bring to coaching.


We're not just talking stress, here - though stress is certainly a pervasive and dangerous issue. Burnout is a chronic state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that stems from prolonged periods of overwhelming responsibilities. In this blog, I'll delve into the world of burnout, exploring its signs, causes, impact, and most importantly, how to prevent and conquer it.


What is Burnout?

Burnout isn't just feeling tired at the end of a long day. It's a profound depletion of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. It is intense and long-lasting. Think of it as a slow burn, where the demands placed upon you consistently outweigh your capacity to cope. The WHO has defined burnout as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”. In a 2021 survey, 52% of workers reported feeling burnt out and 27% say they are unable to unplug from work. This is an issue that employers can not afford to ignore.


Recognizing the Signs of Burnout

If you're already finding yourself constantly pushed beyond your limits at work, chances are you suspect burnout. Symptoms can present physically, emotionally, or behaviourally. Physical symptoms like persistent fatigue, disrupted sleep patterns, and headaches can signal burnout. Emotionally, you might find yourself detached, cynical, and increasingly irritable. Motivation can feel like a long lost memory. Behaviorally, your performance might decline, and you might start withdrawing from responsibilities you once embraced. Are any of these sounding familiar?


The Impact of Burnout

The repercussions of burnout are far-reaching. On an individual level, it can severely compromise your mental health, leaving you feeling emotionally drained and anxious. It can start to affect your relationships as you find yourself less able to engage in the things that previously brought you joy. Professionally, your productivity wanes, and even work relationships can become strained. It can all start to feel like a never-ending cycle, inconceivable to break.


Prevention Strategies

Preventing burnout starts with self-awareness. Acknowledge your limits and recognize the early signs of burnout. Setting boundaries between work and personal life is crucial. Let me repeat that. Setting boundaries is crucial. Burnout develops in a relationship with your work. Unfortunately, your work is not likely to be the one setting any boundaries in your favor so the responsibility of pushing is going to fall to you. Give yourself permission to put your mental health and well-being before your work. In addition to addressing the systemic issues in your work demands dynamics, some other strategies can help with reducing likelihood of burnout. Effect time management, stress-reduction techniques, and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals are essential tools, too.

Obviously, I'm biased, but working with a coach can be a great way to help you see new possibilities when you're stuck in the burnout cycle.


Overcoming Burnout

If burnout has already taken hold, don't lose hope. Take a break to recharge your batteries and regain perspective. However, understand that a vacation will not cure burnout. Addressing the work-demands dynamics that contributed to the burnout is critical. Professional help from a therapists or coach can provide valuable guidance and support, too. If you have paid leave available to you, take it. Further, lifestyle adjustments, like incorporating regular exercise, supportive social time, and prioritizing self-care, can aid in your recovery.

If your mind immediately starts to say, "I can't afford to take time off", try asking yourself, "what will it cost me to let this dynamic go on unchanged?"

Fostering a Burnout-Resistant Work Environment

As I've highlighted, organizations and leadership play a pivotal role in combating burnout. Employers must prioritize work-life balance - in both word and action. Supportive workplaces offer skill development opportunities, and acknowledge employees' efforts. Psychologically safe environments that encourage open communication channels and can create workplaces where burnout is less likely to thrive.


Burnout Case Studies

In my work with clients approaching or experiencing burnout, we start by honestly acknowledging the costs of nothing changing. Often, clients face considerable mental and physical fallout and the possibility of losing valuable relationships. Confronted with this, we start making incremental changes, addressing the inner and outer barriers impeding healthier dynamics. Over time, clients make more space for themselves. Most find a greater sense of balance with their work. Others realise their work environments are not conducive to a healthy balance and take steps towards better opportunities. Whatever the outcome, remembering what is at stake keeps us focused.


Conclusion

Burnout might be pervasive, but it's not insurmountable. You can recover some balance. By understanding the nuances of burnout, recognizing the signs, and employing preventative measures, you can safeguard your well-being. Remember that overcoming burnout requires a combination of self-care, support, and changes in both personal and professional spheres.



Some additional resources you may want to check out:


Or, register for our upcoming Burnout to Balance program.

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