In a culture that values productivity and success above all else, it’s no wonder that burnout is spiking at an alarming rate. Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged and repeated stress.” While short-term stress often comes and goes, burnout is chronic—and much more damaging.
Although the prevalence of burnout is difficult to pinpoint, and often varies between different professions and situations, it’s probably safe to assume that it’s alarmingly high. One 2020 survey clocked employee burnout rates at around 76%, a number that was no doubt influenced by the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, working professionals aren’t the only people who experience burnout. Anyone under a lot of stress—for example, parents or students—can be affected by burnout.
The signs of burnout will manifest differently for everyone. Burnout is characterized by three main components: exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of inefficacy. Symptoms of burnout include feeling tired and drained all the time; feeling irritable, frustrated, or unmotivated; or feeling inadequate or worried about your ability to succeed.
How To Recover From Burnout
Most of us don’t have the luxury of quitting our jobs or hiring a full-time caretaker for our kids; as such, simply walking away from the thing or situation that is causing burnout is rarely an option. For that reason, it’s important to teach ourselves how to cope with burnout in ways that can be integrated into our current lives. The following steps are good starting points for anyone dealing with burnout:
Set boundaries. In this case, setting boundaries means both disconnecting from work and protecting personal time. Creating and maintaining a routine or set schedule can be a great way to help yourself stick to boundaries.
Take breaks. Allowing your brain time to recharge and disengage from work is crucial for protecting your emotional and mental health.
Find something that fulfills you. One of the most insidious aspects of burnout is that it can sap your enjoyment of things that usually make you happy. To counter that, consider looking elsewhere for things that bring you joy or purpose—like a new hobby or creative activity, a social group, or volunteering.
Practice self care. Stress management and self-care are important for everyone, but they’re even more necessary for people dealing with burnout. Take care of your mental and physical health by seeing a therapist, exercising and eating well, and getting plenty of sleep, and try to incorporate acts of self care into your daily routine.
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