Updated: Nov 7
By: Ready Nest Intern, Ryann Christ
Burnout is a silent enemy that can creep into our lives, affecting our mental and physical health. Recognizing the signs and taking proactive steps in stopping burnout is crucial for our overall well-being.
Burnout is more than just feeling tired or stressed; it's a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. The term was first coined in 1974 by author Herbert Freudenberger who defined it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired result.” It can leave you feeling completely disconnected from the things you once enjoyed. Identifying the warning signs early on is vital.
Unmasking the Culprits
Various factors can contribute to burnout, including high stress levels, long work hours, lack of control, support, or recognition, as well as desensitization to or dismissal of our own needs. Recognizing these potential triggers is the first step in preventing burnout.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
Early intervention is key in stopping burnout. Keep an eye out for subtle indicators such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep patterns. Burnout may manifest as apathy or cynicism. It can show up as reduced performance and productivity. You may feel exhausted, empty and unable to cope with daily life — overwhelmed by everyday work tasks or keeping up with your family’s daily routines. You may feel down on yourself, with a depressed mood. You may feel reclusive. If you find yourself dreading once-loved activities or avoiding responsibilities, it's time to take action.
It Can Have a Big Impact
The aftermath of burnout isn't limited to mental exhaustion. It can wreak havoc on your physical health too – from gastrointestinal distress to high blood pressure. Look out for lowered immune function, reoccurring headaches, and sleep disruptions or insomnia. Listen to your body.
Practical Steps for Prevention
Back to Basics: Prioritize good sleep hygiene, maintain a balanced diet, and engage in regular physical activity. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour gym session; a short walk or quick yoga session at home can work wonders. We can't stress the importance of the basics enough. The mind-body connection is real. Just as our thoughts, feelings and and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning, how we treat our physical body can impact our mental state. These pillars of well-being play a significant role in preventing burnout.
Effective Time Management: Embrace techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix to manage your time efficiently. Break tasks into manageable chunks, and remember to schedule breaks. Allocate time for self-care, socializing, and activities you enjoy. We have to be able to step away from the source of our stress to adequately attend to our well-being.
Prioritize Self-Care: Engage in activities that nurture your body and your soul. Whether it’s through a creative hobby, a moment of solitude in the shower, or simply a walk in the park, self-care is your shield against burnout.
Seek Support: Don't be afraid to lean on friends, family, or professionals. Seeing a therapist is often a good first step to tackling burnout. Sometimes having a safe place to talk with someone — not a spouse, a sibling, coworker or neighbor — but someone who is impartial and trained to provide support can be life-changing. It’s an opportunity to focus strictly on what you need to refill your tank.
Maintain Personal Boundaries: Boundaries protect your well-being and foster trust in relationships. Establish them with coworkers, with friends, and within your family circle. Overextending yourself or allowing others to overstep can take a big toll. It's okay to set limits and communicate your needs.
Build Work-Life Balance: Creating work-life balance and having some flexibility in your schedule can make a world of difference. Unlike depression, burnout is linked to specific stressors. So, once you distance yourself from what’s causing your burnout, you’ll start to feel more life yourself again. If work demands are the main stressor, consider ways to lighten the load or maybe even consider a change of direction. Having a workplace that’s supportive is instrumental in preventing burnout. It's worth noting that with some good stress-management skills, even in a high-pressure job, you can sidestep burnout.
Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Whether through guided meditation or spending time in nature, find what resonates with you. Breathing exercises can be your lifeline in stressful situations. This is a tool you can turn to anywhere, at any time. Focusing on each inhale and each exhale calms the nervous system and allows you to be present in the moment. Declutter your mind and your surroundings to promote mental well-being.
Remember, stopping burnout is an ongoing journey. Check in with yourself regularly. By implementing these strategies, you're taking proactive steps towards safeguarding your well-being. You have the power to reclaim balance, joy, and fulfillment in your life.
Stopping burnout before it starts is a powerful act of self-care and self-preservation. By recognizing the signs, understanding the contributing factors, and implementing practical strategies, you can create a life that nurtures your well-being. Take the first step today and embrace a future free from the grips of burnout. Your well-being is worth it.
If you find yourself in need of professional help, don't hesitate to reach out to us and schedule a session. Our dedicated team at Ready Nest Counseling is here to help you navigate life's challenges and transitions with care and compassion. Whether you're experiencing difficulties related to conception, pregnancy, postpartum, infertility, loss, parenting, or relationships our therapists are ready to support you. We offer both in-person and virtual therapy. Schedule a therapy session with us today and take the first step towards a healthier you. Ready Nest Counseling also offers support groups for new moms and those who have experienced pregnancy loss. Remember, you don't have to face it alone – we're here for you.