What is burnout, and how can you avoid it?

Did you know that over 36% of people have felt workplace stress for the past five years, according The Stress Management Society? And that over-exhaustion can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease? And physical repercussions aside, it can take a major toll on your mental health and wellbeing.

So we agree – burnout sounds pretty doom and gloom. But what exactly does ‘burnout’ mean? How does it differ from the regular amount of stress and tiredness?

The World Health Organisation have spent time researching it and have dubbed the syndrome an “occupational phenomenon”. It manifests through feelings of exhaustion and energy depletion, an increase in mental distance or negative associations with an environment (such as your workplace), and an overall reduction in productivity. And it’s not just in the office that you can experience burnout. It can appear in certain lifestyle situations, often brought on by taking on too many responsibilities, not making the time to relax, and sleep deprivation. 

Here are our best tips for handling burnout if you feel one coming on.

Focus on some shut eye
Tiredness can exacerbate burnout as it prevents your mind from thinking rationally. Set a routine of going to bed at the same time each night and avoid looking at a screen for at least 30 minutes prior to this. By getting into a good routine, you can train your body to value sleep and wake up with a lighter mindset. 

Get moving in the fresh air 
Exercise is always good for you, but moving your gym to the great outdoors has been proven to help your body recharge and encourage your mind to switch off. An extra effective way of increasing your mood is through rhythmic exercise, so aim to do something that involves both your arms and your legs.

Work on managing your stress.  
Mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises are great for this. Even just taking 10 minutes out of your day can make a world of difference. Don’t know where to start? There are plenty of apps that can help you find your way. Other strategies for stress management include keeping a stress diary, not over-committing yourself, and ensuring you take breaks away from your desk at work. 

Limit time with negative people
Sometimes easier said than done, but by reducing the amount of negative-minded people that surround you in the office or in your social life, you'll start to notice a lighter outlook on life.

Pay attention to your diet
While keeping an eye on what you eat is important for your overall health, your mood and energy levels can be determined by your eating habits. Opt for vegetables and more omega-3 fatty acids, and try to cut back on the alcohol, sugar and refined carbs. Caffeine also plays a part here, so swap out the coffee for a peppermint tea.

Speak up
It’s important that you avoid internalising any negative emotions and get your stress off your chest. Speak to a partner, a friend, a colleague, or a doctor - anyone who will provide you with the support you need.

Looking for more insights? Check out our Healthy Talks interviews here

Search Healthy Nibbles