Because of this difficult predicament they find themselves in, millennials often feel that they need to be working constantly just to keep their head above water. This fear has become the source of a significant amount of stress, anxiety and depression, the kind that eventually leads to emotional exhaustion and detachment, with tell-tale signs of burnout being physical and mental fatigue, insomnia, a lack of focus and constant negative feelings.
Work is considered the most glaring contributing factor to burnout. In the UK, work is the single biggest cause of stress, with one in five (21%) citing work as the source of their stress several times throughout the week. According to research on the subject, there are six main risks for burnout: an overwhelming workload, limited control, unfair work, unrewarding work, work that conflicts with a worker’s values, and a lack of community in the workplace.
“Where the external stressor takes away your ability to take any time for self-care then burnout is a real risk,” says Joanna Shurety, an accredited Health Coach (UKHCA) and works with busy professionals to avoid burn out. “What we often do is just continue to try and do everything, rather than take the time to think about what needs we have, the areas in which we need help, or what we simply can’t do.”
While men and women are both susceptible to burnout, Joanna says the way each deals with it differs between the sexes: “The difference I see is in the ability to make a commitment – men will often sacrifice to make themselves the priority, while the women I’ve worked with have struggled with this and feel guilty for asking for time for themselves.” We already know feelings of guilty are way too prevalent in women, and while men are able to justify their need to put themselves first, women still struggle with the feeling that they’re not doing enough, which can make their burnout that much worse.
Burnout has been called an epidemic, with one in five of us being at risk. But this doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. Joanna says there’s a number of ways to recognise and recover from burnout. While we can’t always see the signs of burnout in ourselves – as stated above, the guilt that women feel stops them from acknowledging it and accepting their exhaustion. Thus, sometimes it’s good and important to have a friend who’ll give you some tough love when it comes to taking time out. Much like a workplace cheerleader who’s there to recognise your achievements, this person is on hand to tell you when you need to slow down, particularly when you’re not willing to admit it to yourself.
“I know when I was at my most stressed, I felt like I was coping well and juggling everything – others saw the stress in me more,” Joanna explains. “From experience – both with myself and with others – the desire and the need to keep going and keep the plates spinning sometimes means we think we are coping, when actually our relationships are suffering, and our energy levels are depleted. It’s not that we don’t know when we’re burnt out, it’s just that, at times, stopping or slowing down doesn’t seem to be an option. Therefore, others may address it before we get to that decision ourselves.”
And while some stress can be a good thing – “It can be a real motivator and focus point. Under pressure is when some people are at their very best” – it’s when that pressure becomes constant or unachievable that is takes a negative turn. So, it’s important to recognise the signs of this turn and stop it in its tracks. As such, Joanna has given us her top five tops for preventing burnout, so you’ll know when to give yourself a well-earned break:
- Recognise your limits: If you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, then identify what needs to change. It may be getting rid of something, or asking for help, or just saying no more often.
- Take time for self-care: Taking some time for yourself, however small. It may be taking a relaxing bath without any distractions, mediating, going for a walk, listening to music – something where you can have an outlet.
- Be sure to eat well: Often alcohol and sugar are the cravings or coping mechanisms that people have when they’re under stress. This is not helpful. They don’t take away the stress, instead they add to the stress on the body, which is a vicious cycle.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Sleep is when our bodies recover. Being active before bedtime, especially with social media and technology, means a delay in the body switching off and doing its job effectively when sleeping. Drinking alcohol before bed can also affect the quality of our sleep.
- Exercise can be a great way to get rid of pent up stress: Find a fun workout that you enjoy – it should not be a punishment.
For more information, visit ShuretyCoaching.com.