How To Avoid Mental Burnout
Mental burnout is something that can affect us all, whether it comes from our job, family life, social life or just too much exposure to stressful situations.
Learning how to identify mental burnout is an important skill to have, but the signs aren’t always clear, and it often creeps up on us so we’re not even aware we’re becoming burned out until it’s too late.
So today we’ll take a look at the signs and symptoms of mental burnout, and what you can do to avoid it!
All Burned Out
Burnout is the term we use to describe the condition where stress has become so overwhelming, we can no longer think or function as we normally would, and we can no longer cope with or manage a situation.
Herbert Freudenberger, the man who first coined the term burnout in 1974, describes it as:
“The extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one's devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”
Anybody can suffer from burnout, and while it’s common for people with stressful jobs to experience it, it is by no means exclusive to work-related problems. Mental burnout happens as a result of living in extreme stress for extended periods of time, so while a stressful job might be a cause, so can many other areas of life.
Common causes of mental burnout include:
- Stress from work. This could be from toxic work environments, unreasonable deadlines, extreme workloads, or long hours.
- Stress from family life. Such as going through a separation, caring for an ill family member, or sudden changes like moving home or bereavement.
- Financial problems. Constant worry of how bills will be paid, living paycheck to paycheck or not having the funds to live the life you want.
Who Is Most At Risk?
As we mentioned above, anybody who is exposed to high levels of stress for extended periods of time is at risk of becoming burned out. Having said that, there are certain personality traits that can mean some people are more susceptible.
These traits include:
- The need to be in control
- The desire to please everybody
- Low self-esteem or a feeling of not being good enough
Ask yourself if you have any of these traits, and if you do, recognise that they could one day push you towards burnout.
Am I Burning Out?
If you have become burned out, you can experience many symptoms, although they can vary from person to person.
These symptoms may be physical, emotional, or even behavioural in nature.
- Increased muscular tension
- Constant exhaustion and fatigue, no matter how much you sleep
- Increased susceptibility to illnesses such as colds and flu
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Emotional exhaustion/feeling emotionally drained
- Feelings of isolation, hopelessness, or dread
- A reduced ability to make decisions
- Decreased productivity/inability to concentrate
- Lack of motivation
It’s not uncommon for those closest to you to notice the early signs of burnout before you do, so make sure you listen when somebody expresses concern for your welfare and take steps to avoid it.
How To Avoid Mental Burnout
Your first step should be to identify what it is in your life that is causing you to be so stressed.
You may need to make some changes to your environment at work or home, or even take time off from work completely. It’s important not to feel guilty about this. Burnouts happen when you ignore your personal needs for too long. Now is the time to start putting yourself first!
This can be hard for some people, especially if you feel like you are indispensable, but tasks can be delegated, and responsibilities can be shared. Learning how to do this and how to trust others in taking the reins is something we all need to do sometimes.
Get Plenty Of Rest
While it’s not always possible, getting away for a break can be a great way to recharge your batteries. Even if it’s just for a day or two, the change in environment is a good way of distancing yourself from the source of your overwhelm.
If you can’t get away, try to spend some time each day that is dedicated to giving yourself some unwind time. This might be an evening walk, 15 minutes of meditation, a long bath or a massage from your partner.
And importantly, remember to sleep! This is when our bodies rest and recover. The stress hormones that have been coursing through your veins will likely mean it’s been a while since you had a good night of deep and restful sleep. If it’s something you’ve been missing out on, then it’s time to catch up!
It’s crucial to let those around you know what you are going through.
If your problem is work-related, then talk to your boss or get in touch with HR. There may be something they can do to help make your situation more manageable.
If the cause of your stress is due to family, financial or personal reasons, seek help from your spouse, parents, siblings, or friends. Asking for help can be difficult but it’s so important.
Exercise has been scientifically proven to help lower stress levels and it can improve both emotional and physical health. You don’t have to start running marathons, but introducing more movement into your daily routine is key.
Learning how to relax and slow down can feel quite alien if you are used to living in excessively stressful situations, but activities like yoga, meditation (check out Insight Timer for a great free meditation app) and Tai Chi have been effective methods of achieving inner peace for centuries. Join a class or check out YouTube where there are hundreds of videos that you can follow along with for free.
When our stress levels become unmanageable, the quality of our diet is often the first thing that takes a hit. Start paying attention to it again and try to consume nutritious, clean foods that will support your health. This also means cutting down on the junk!
Speak to your local UCA registered vitalistic chiropractor. Vitalistic chiropractors can offer much more than just the treatment of bad backs. They can give you advise on how to take a healthy and holistic approach to your health, including all of areas we have listed above. Find your local chiropractor by clicking here.
The Road To Recovery
Just like back pain, the best cure for burnout is always prevention.
Listen to your body and your mind, and take action before things get too much.
Burnout is not a sign of weakness or failure, it’s a sign that you have been under too much stress for too long. Recognising this, and doing something about it takes great strength.
If you feel like you have already become burned out, make sure you follow the tips above and start making yourself a priority. Stay active, eat well, talk to the people around you, and you will start to move back into a place of wellness and happiness again.
Life can throw a lot of things at us, don’t let mental burnout become one of them.