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  • Shannon Carvalho

Burnouts: Everything You Need to Know

Sometimes, it can feel like we have no more to give and we become emotionally exhausted with a sense of hopelessness. Burnouts, defined by Psychology Today accord refers to a "state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress." Unlike ordinary fatigue, burnouts make stress management difficult for people and their ability to handle daily activities. Burnouts are susceptible to anyone experiencing high levels of stress, often through work. It can also commonly found within caregivers as it can sometimes become difficult to switch off and to prioritise themselves. The demands on a caregiver can easily seem overwhelming leading to fatigue and hopelessness resulting in a burnout.

Whilst not classified as a medical condition, WHO determine that burnouts can still influence our health and lead us to reach out to health care services. They can cause symptoms of exhaustion, depression and isolation. Burnouts are not always easy to recognise, often because they are a gradual process that manifests and worsens over time. It is crucial to pay attention to our mind and bodies, actively reducing stress to prevent a breakdown. Continuing to ignore the signs will eventually lead to a burnout. According to HelpGuide, symptoms and signs of burnout can be split into three categories: emotional, physical and behavioural.

Emotional symptoms and signs of burnout include:

  • Sense of failure and self doubt

  • Detachment and feelings of loneliness

  • Loss of motivation and negative outlook on life

  • Decreased satisfaction

Physical symptoms and signs of burnout include:

  • Constant tiredness and feeling drained

  • Lower immunity and frequent illness

  • Recurring headaches and migraines

  • Change in appetite and sleeping habits

Behavioural symptoms and signs of burnout include:

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities

  • Social isolation

  • Procrastination

  • Taking frustrations out on others


How to Deal With Burnouts

Whilst it may feel like burnouts are permanent, they are in fact reversible. There steps and strategies you can put in place to manage your stress.

Assessing the Situation

The first step to combating burnout is assessing your current situation. Ask yourself if you are carrying more responsibility than usual? What needs done and what can wait? How are you feeling? Burnout manifests in our bodies so it important to pay attention to the body's signals. You might recognize a few ways to lighten your load right away and the immediate relief this brings may surprise you.

Prioritising Sleep

The stress of work or other aspects of life can lead to sleepless nights worrying. It is important to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern because it restores our wellbeing and protects our health. It is recommended that we sleep 8 hours a night. To help achieve this, we should wind down before bed, avoiding screen time and switching off from work or outside influences. Staying up later to achieve tasks is counterproductive. Lack of sleep results in the weakening of your energy, mood, productivity and the ability to cope with stress.

Establish A Daily Routine

It can sometimes be challenging to enforce strict divisions and maintain a healthy work/life balance. Writing a to-do list of what needs to be achieved can be a great method of setting a clear vision for the day. In doing this, you create small achievable goals as opposed to looking at the day as one big task. As you cross the goals of your list, you will feel satisfaction and this can boost your mood.

Explore a Hobby

Often with burnouts, the issue lies with not taking time for ourselves. Finding a hobby that you enjoy can help you recharge and destress, and return to your work or chores with a more positive attitude. It is just as important to schedule time for hobbies and relaxation as it is to schedule work. By scheduling these activities, you create a certainty that it will happen and it becomes something to look forward to. You can go for a jog, do a puzzle, read a book or even try a new recipe for dinner. Creativity is a powerful force against burnouts. Whilst doing these activities, it is important to switch off by avoiding checking the news, social media or emails. Simply enjoy the activity at hand.

Regular Exercise

Exercise is a great way to clear your mind, reduce nervous energy and increase happiness levels. Navigating an outlet for your stress can result in feelings of calmness and elevated energy levels at work. It is often recommended to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes day; this can even be done through 3 ten minute slots if you are short for time. Exercise is also a great distraction from the worries of work. When you are exercising you are focusing on your body as opposed to your thoughts and this can be a great stress relief.

Healthy Diet

What we put into our bodies can have a huge impact on our mood and energy levels. Maintaining a healthy diet will ensure you have all the nutrients and vitamins required for the day. It can be tempting to crave sugary snacks or comfort food such as pasta or fries, however, these high-carbohydrate foods can lean to a crash in both mood and energy. Eating a healthy diet filled with omega-3 fatty acids can be a natural antidepressant


Mindfulness is all about paying attention the present moment which helps us mediate the racing, repetitive and non productive thoughts that cause stress and eventual burnouts. Therefore, mindfulness can be viewed as a tool for self-regulation. Within a job setting, this involves facing situations with openness, patience and without judgement. A great way to practice mindfulness is to engage as many of your senses as possible in one activity. 5-4-3-2-1 is a great grounding technique that involves isolating each one of your senses and observing a certain number of things using that specific sense.

Ask for Help

When experiencing stressful times, it is important to reach out for help. Whilst it can feel difficult to open up to others, loved ones can become a great support network during trying times. Talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress.

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