According to a survey performed by Statistics Canada in 2010, approximately 25% of Canadian workers described their daily lives as highly stressful. Consistently high levels of stress can cause a number of problems for individuals, and could eventually lead to a situation of burnout.
What is burnout?
Burnout can be defined as a state of exhaustion that is caused by persistent and excessive stress and pressure. Burnout can be felt in many ways – including physically, mentally and emotionally. Often individuals facing burnout feel drained, exhausted, overwhelmed and unable to cope with day to day life demands. It can be the cause of many interpersonal problems, both professionally and personally, and can affect the quality of an individual’s work. Someone suffering from burnout may begin to isolate themselves from family and friends, and may no longer participate in activities that they have previously found enjoyable. Some experts believe that burnout can lead to more significant mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
Sometimes, the symptoms of burnout can be difficult to identify, as they are often dismissed as a byproduct of a busy lifestyle and not seen as anything more serious. The symptoms of burnout include:
- Feeling drained mentally, physically, and/or emotionally
- Insomnia or other changes in sleep habits
- Impaired concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of productivity
- Poor performance at work
- Feeling helpless, overwhelmed, and/or trapped
- Feeling isolated or detached from loved ones
- Physical symptoms such as stomach pains or headaches
How can burnout be avoided?
To avoid burnout, it is important to be aware of the symptoms. It is easier to try and modify an existing lifestyle to avoid burnout from happening than it is to recover from burnout. One of the most important steps to take to avoid burnout is to incorporate self-care into one’s daily routine. Takings steps to manage the stresses in day-to-day life is the important first step to take, and can be integrated by making changes such as:
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet – ensuring that your body is getting the nutrients it requires is very important for minimizing physical stress. Additionally, reducing both caffeine and alcohol intake will positively benefit stress levels.
- Exercise regularly – aim for 30 minutes of activity daily to help manage your stress levels. This doesn’t have to be all at one, nor does it need to be formal exercise. Try thinking outside the box for ways to add activity daily – take the stairs instead of the elevator, get off one bus stop early, park at the end of the parking lot, or take a brisk 10 minute walk on your lunch break. These small activities add up fast!
- Learn how to say “no”– it is very easy to want to please everyone, however this often leads to feeling overextended and increases stress levels. Learning how to say no allows one to focus on those commitments that are truly fulfilling.
- Take stock of the stressors in your life – can they be somehow changed to be less stressful? Can they be removed from your life completely? Are you able to delegate them to someone else?
- Take time to incorporate activities you enjoy into your life – pick up an old hobby that you used to enjoy, or try a new one.
- Spend time with loved ones
- Incorporate relaxation techniques into your life – activities such as guided imagery and yoga allow the mind and body to relax and have been shown to reduce stress levels.
- Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and it can be helpful to talk with a counsellor who specializes in stress management.
How can Living Well help?
They key to avoiding or recovering from burnout is finding what works for you as an individual, what fits your lifestyle, and committing to make the change a permanent one. If you need help with this process, Living Well Counselling Services Inc. has many counsellors available who specialize in stress management and can help. We offer a free 20 minute consultation to all prospect clients to help you find the counsellor that would be the best fit for your goals. Click here to request an appointment.