4 Ways to Avoid Burnout

If you're working from home, you may be trying to prove to your boss just how productive you are. In fact, research suggests that people who work from home are more productive than those who work in an office. 

But just as you have enough time to think and work without the distractions of the office, there are steps you should take to ensure you do not neglect yourself during this process. 

What is burnout? 

Mayo Clinic describes burnout as work-related stress which results in the body being emotionally and physically exhausted. This can result in an individual feeling a reduced sense of accomplishment and loss of personal identity. 

What are the five stages of burnout?

The symptoms vary from person to person, however, these stages are commonly seen:

  • Honeymoon Phase - You have just been given a new task or project to work on, and you are excited. This is where you experience a high amount of job satisfaction, your ideas flow well, and you have the energy to execute the tasks. A few symptoms experienced are high levels of productivity, the need to prove yourself, sustained energy levels and commitment to the job.
  • The Onset of Stress - This is where you have a few “off” days because the workload has gotten too much or you’re not faring well with tasks and clients. A few common symptoms are fatigue, forgetfulness, anxiety, irritability, job dissatisfaction and an inability to sleep or do not get enough sleep.
  • Chronic Stress - This is where you experience stress on an ongoing basis. You are no longer motivated at work and experience more intense symptoms than you had in stage two. Some common symptoms include a cynical attitude, increased caffeine intake, missed deadlines, procrastination and chronic fatigue.
  • Burnout - Your symptoms have now become critical, and you are unable to cope with your assigned tasks. A few common symptoms are self-doubt, chronic headaches, changes in your behaviour, develop a pessimistic outlook on life, social isolation and intensity of your physical ailments.
  • Habitual burnout - The last stage of burnout is where your symptoms have changed the way you think, show up at work or with friends and changed your behaviour in general. This is where it is advisable to seek the help and counsel of a medical practitioner. Common symptoms include depression and chronic mental and physical exhaustion.

What are the symptoms of burnout?

Symptoms of burnout include:

  • You always feel drained
  • Your appetite and sleep habits have changed
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sense of failure
  • Detachment from friends and family
  • Using substances to help you cope
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities

How long can burnout last?

There is no overnight cure if your body is fatigued. It can take weeks, months and even years for your body to feel 100 per cent healthy again. 

Here are four tips to avoid burnout:  

  1. Find Purpose - If what you are doing is not purposeful, you may not enjoy it. Find ways to make your job more meaningful than working towards a salary at the end of the month. Ask yourself questions like, ‘what do I love the most about my job? How can I positively impact someone while doing my job?’ This way, you will see the beauty in what you do and how it can help the next person.
  2. Critically Analyse your Day-to-Day - If you frequently feel stressed, perhaps it’s time to consider exactly what is causing it. Often, people take on more than they can handle to feel a sense of accomplishment, but this can also leave you feeling overwhelmed as your task list intensifies. Have a look at what’s on your plate and decide what is urgent and essential. Prioritise those tasks to do immediately then see which tasks you can delegate, and others that you can collaborate on. This can help take the pressure off you and create unity between you and your colleagues as you work together.
  3. Self-care - Create a win-win situation between you and your tasks. There’s no point in succeeding at your job when you are mentally and physically exhausted. Consider different ways you can take care of yourself and alleviate stress. Exercise regularly to help increase your energy levels and get a good night’s rest, participate in a virtual yoga class onlineor practice meditation techniques at home. Meditating and doing desk exercises at work can also help you reduce stress during the day.
  4. Unwind - Choose a time where you completely switch off from work and unwind. You can do this by reading a book, watching your favourite series, taking a personal day off from work, or going on vacation. This will allow you to fully reset so that when you get back to work, you are fully recharged. Just don’t take your laptop with you when you’re taking a break!

Apart from work, other things can also create unnecessary stress. Think about your car insurance. According to the AA, about 70 percent of South African drivers do not have insurance. Paying a monthly premium is nothing compared to fixing a car as a result of a car accident. Get car insurance to suit your budget now and select your premium tailored to your pocket.

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