Burnout Unmasked: Recognizing the Signs and Restoring Balance in Your Life

Time for a quick mental health quiz…

Do you often feel overtired, or even exhausted?

Do you feel this way even when your schedule is not too full?

Do you often find yourself too tired to spend time with friends and family?

Do you frequently experience unexplained headaches or muscle pain?

Do you often have a difficult time concentrating, even on simple tasks?

Does your daily to-do list feel like a major mountain to conquer?

Do you regularly feel irritable or emotionally shaky? Stressed? Overwhelmed?

Well, how about it? Do you identify with many of these symptoms?

Maybe this list surprised you. If you don’t identify with these symptoms, it might be hard to imagine what it’s like to spend much of your time tired and frustrated. Sometimes we take for granted the simple things like our energy, our productivity, or our bodily integrity.

But maybe you are surprised to hear that there are others who do not feel this way! If this list did resonate with you, then you may be dealing with burnout.

Burnout is a sneaky condition. It builds slowly over time – perhaps your workload increases bit by bit, perhaps you stay a bit longer at the office and go home a little later, perhaps there is a slow build in pressure on your role. But one day, you find yourself running on fumes, struggling to get things done, and dreading the day.

Aside from irritability, exhaustion, and lack of focus, burnout can also look like a change in eating habits or sleep schedule (or outright insomnia), procrastination, substance abuse, or frequent sickness due to compromised immunity.

As you can imagine, this is not only no way to live – it is no way to work. Neither the person dealing with burnout nor the organization that employs them is getting a good deal when they are dealing with burnout!

So, whether you are a leader or a concerned employee, or you are feeling burned out yourself, here are five burnout reduction and prevention techniques you can use or bring to your work leaders:

1. Awareness and education campaigns. Awareness is the first step on every recovery journey. The more that team leaders and colleagues know about burnout, the sooner they can recognize it, the better they can address it and respond to it, and the better their team is cared for.

2. Creating a healthy work-life balance. Boundaries are a foundational feature in all healthy relationships – including the one between the office and the home. Promote a healthy, low-pressure work-life balance by setting realistic expectations and pursuing an accommodating work environment.

3. Adjusting the day-to-day routine. One of the most overwhelming aspects of burnout is the sameness of it. Some modern teams are breaking away from traditional routines and trying stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness breaks, no-meeting days or walking meetings, and job rotation programs.

Some organizations have even made their offices pet-friendly or set up office “nap rooms” where employees can relax for a short time!

4. Open conversations about mental health. One step toward breaking down the stigma of mental illness is to talk about it openly. If you are a leader, address mental health with your team; allow your team to feel safe admitting when they are struggling, and respond with initiatives to reduce stress and explain how they are meant to help. If you are a struggling team member, bring these concerns to your leader.

5. Access to supportive resources. Offering guides, articles, helpful links, and information about supportive organizations will not only directly help those who are struggling, but will also help those struggling feel that it is a topic worth discussing.

These techniques, when implemented gradually, responsibly, and with transparency, will help those struggling return to a sense of ease.

Are you feeling burned out? Let me be the first to tell you there’s no shame in it. You deserve to feel better – and you can. You can reach out with thoughts or questions and I will support you however I can.

Make today your masterpiece!


P.S. Do you know a leader who cares for the mental health of their team? Feel free to pass this article on to them to get mental health proactivity out in the open!

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