What is burnout?
Burnout is something that can happen in life regardless of your age, gender, race or employment status and can creep up on you so you don’t notice it is happening, often until it is too late.
Burnout can affect each person in different ways. Some may experience stomach problems, sleep issues, not feeling motivated to do anything, not finding enjoyment in the things you once found fun, general “fogginess” of the mind, feeling numb to things, memory problems, loss of appetite and other symptoms.
Why does burnout happen?
Burnout happens when the body and mind are subject to stress, lack of sleep and the cause can be the modern lifestyles. In this day there is a pressure to always be “on”, connected and busy – whether it is working all the hours, side hustle, study, hobbies or interests, something needs to be filling each minute of each day. The internet, especially social media, reinforce these beliefs with eh sharing of such “motivational” images “Live your best life” and others that encourage doing all the things.
Other causes can be from social media, email and mobile phones. For some, there is a pressure to forever update statuses, share photos and engage with followers 24/7, check and respond to emails as they happen. The ping of a new message or notification can be a buzz that becomes addictive and one that commands attention.
Even day-to-day life can be a cause of burnout. There are so many different things to juggle day to day, from paying bills, working, housekeeping, washing, cooking, hobbies, interest and other pursuit’s that can be a drain on your energy, lead to stress and lack of sleep.
How can we identify burnout?
As burnout can affect everyone differently, and the cause can vary; the best way of identifying burnout is to pay attention to how you are feeling mentally and physically. Are you tired all the time? Do you feel stress? Are you avoiding doing certain activities you once enjoyed? What are your reactions like – are you short-tempered or annoyed quickly? Also, assess how much time you have been “on” and doing things, if this is higher than usual then it is possible that you will be experiencing a form of burnout.
How you can treat burnout?
If you are starting to feel the effects of burnout, one of the best things you can do is to step away from all of the activities that have been taking up your time and energy, turn off your social media and email notifications and take some time to yourself.
Going for walks in the fresh air, spending time with friends and family, eating a healthy and varied diet, stretching exercises, reading and mindfulness can help, but one of the most restorative is sleep.
Safeguarding against burnout in the future.
- Know the signs of burnout that are personal to you.
- Understand what your burnout triggers are.
- Take time out each week to relax.
- Exercise, eat healthily and get enough sleep.
- Take regular breaks from social media, emails and other communications.
- Listen to yourself. Your body will often give you hints about what it needs and tuning in to this can be the preventative measure.
- Assess how you spend your time and alter it to include more time focusing on relaxing.
Case Study – My Experience with Burnout.
I have been experiencing burnout for the past few weeks. I started to become aware that I was not very motivated to do anything much, preferring to spend my time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram rather than blogging or doing any of the other things, I usually enjoy. I felt disinterested in everything and struggled to get up for work in the mornings.
I had a pretty busy October and figured out some of the triggers for this burnout, these things included
- Blogtober, a month-long daily blog challenge, where I challenged myself to answer three questions each day, which, as I tend to blog daily did not seem too ambitious coupled with trying to maintain my usual blog routine.
- Season changes. The past few weeks have been really dark and gloomy, with a lot of rain and bad weather, which I have found, affects me.
- Shoulder pain. My shoulder injury has meant that I have not been sleeping properly and have been unable to do some tasks that I would normally be able to carry out.
- Inktober, a month-long drawing challenge where you create artwork from a daily prompt word.
I already knew that stretching my creativity could cause me to experience burnout, something I discovered in University but I thought that, because the activities I had set for myself through October were fairly varied then I would be ok.
As I had suffered from burnout previously I was able to recognise some of the signs and take steps to overcome it.
You may have noticed that I have not posted many “proper” blog posts for a week or so (aside from my Blogtober posts and my Saturday Shout Out Advert). I took the decision to step away from the blog, art and design work and get some well-needed rest.
I am now, slowly working my way back into my routines and looking at what I want to achieve, how to balance my work, play and relaxation time and how I spend my time.