Signs of Burnout and Ways to Manage It
As society gets busier and more chaotic, it’s affecting many of us, so knowing the signs of burnout is important.
Many things can lead to burnout, such as stress, being overworked, and even living with neurodivergent or mental health conditions.
Learning the signs of burnout and relevant self-care tools can help reduce or even prevent it in the first place.
Suzy Glaskie is a Functional Medicine Health Coach, who came onto my podcast, Mind Vox, to discuss burnout.
To accompany the episode, Suzy’s written helpful tips below for recognising signs of burnout and how to get through it.
Suzy’s Personal Burnout Experience
Burnout’s something I see in my clients with depressing regularity, and it’s easy to spot, because I’ve been there myself.
I became a walking wreck, years ago, from juggling a stressful job with parenting young children who were often ill.
Desperate to be the consummate professional I’d always been, but grappling with chronic sleep deprivation, I fell apart.
My weight plummeted, I had constant knots of fear in my stomach and had various ailments, including a red eye that refused to heal until I resigned.
Why Do We Have Burnout?
These days the clearly defined boundaries that used to exist between our work and our home lives have dissolved.
When we consider the mountain of responsibilities people have, it’s not surprising that so many of us are struggling.
Getting children ready for nursery or school, dealing with house and school admin, caring for aging parents…and on it goes. It’s a perfect storm, and fertile ground for burnout.
It’s often easy to overlook the signs of burnout, because it doesn’t just announce itself one day like chicken pox.
Instead, it slowly creeps up on you over time.
It’s crucial to be on the alert for warning signs, so we can prevent it from becoming a full-scale breakdown.
Signs of Burnout
Here are some signs of burnout to look for:
- Feeling like you just can’t ever get on top of things – no matter what you do.
- Struggling to sleep.
- Having difficultly focusing at work, and making mistakes.
- Feeling exhausted.
- Suffering from heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches or back ache.
- Loss of appetite; digestive or skin issues.
- Feeling anxious, apathetic or depressed.
- Low energy.
- A lack of joy, even at happy occasions.
- Being irritable and short-tempered.
We often make the mistake of plastering over the cracks; Faking a smile, slapping on make-up and cracking on with the job.
These things don’t help, so it’s important to take action, rather than waiting to become completely incapacitated:
Ways to Manage Burnout
- Be honest about what’s going on; Reach out to people who you trust and accept support from them – you’ll likely find them far more understanding than you’d feared.
- Ask for help! We often struggle to admit that we need to share our load, but you’re only human and have your limits, no matter how efficient you are.
- Get into the habit of saying “no”. Respect the boundaries of your energy and be choosy about what you commit yourself to.
- Make time to nourish your social connections: social support is a key antidote to burnout. Being able to share openly to close friends, who don’t judge you, can be even more effective than counselling.
- Schedule me-time into your diary and be strict about it, to honour your body’s need for regular downtime. This could be going for a walk by yourself or doing a 10-minute mindfulness practice.
- Pay attention to your breath, as it’s the fastest, most effective way to get back to feeling calm. One of my favourite breathing practices is 7/11: breathing in for the count of 7 and out for the count of 11.
The podcast features various professionals and specialists that offer advice for mental health, wellbeing and self-care.
Some relevant episodes include:
An episode with Simran Sondhi about burnout and being stuck in a rut.
Suzy has a free app called Wellness Unwrapped, which contains a 5 Days to Calm programme, which has five self-calming tools that can help with burnout. You can access the app using Google Play or the App Store.
Mind have a list of online self help resources to help with mental wellbeing.
This includes links to free online courses covering low mood and stress, as well as mood trackers and help with anxiety and depression.
A toolkit created by the NHS to help people with persistent health conditions to find ways to maintain good self-care.
It includes tips, supportive activities and a list of resources for various health conditions.
Suzy Glaskie is a former PR boss who left behind an award-winning career in PR to become a health coach. She now leverages her experience of burnout to empower others to look after their own health – mentally, physically and emotionally. She is the founder of Peppermint Wellness and host of the Midlife Illuminated podcast.
This is NOT a paid or sponsored post. All opinions are honest and Suzy’s own.