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  • Daniel Pedley

Baffled By Burnout?

With burnout more common than we think, what is it and how can it be beaten?

Often feeling burnt out is far from relaxing by candlelight.



Shining a lamplight on burning out.

Exhaustion, frustration, insomnia or sleep cycle fluctuations and many more can be associated with the concept of a 'burnout' - that is a physical and emotional reaction to prolonged stress often linked to the workplace or other persistent environments (Burnout - Mental Health UK, 2023). There are however other symptoms that may be less often thought of, for example changes in appetite, IBS or other digestive issues, repetitive headaches, snappiness or trouble regulating one's emotions. In fact, it can sometimes be so nagging and aggressive that it can be mistaken for the early stages of a nervous breakdown. With this in mind, and with the slow death and decline of summer and the 'summer holidays' which are currently limping away with the threat of returning to work, university, school or other commitments nipping at their heels, being able to recognise burnout in yourself or others and knowing strategies to cope with it could never be more useful.


I myself have experienced burnout at full speed, and much like a supersonic jet heading directly towards you, I was at the time unable to hear it coming. In fact, I was only able to recognise it's full effects after it had already 'gifted' me with the symptoms and I was able to disconnect myself from what was causing it in the first place. Hence, writing this comes as much from both knowledge and research as well as my own personal experience, as had I been looking for it, I would've much sooner been able to prepare myself for the sonic boom fast approaching.


A backlit background

Burnout is, like many other modern issues or problems much more prevalent than you would think, with some surveys even indicating that as many as 88% of adults have experienced it to some degree within the last two years (Work-life balance statistics UK, 2023). 31% of employed adults in the UK feel as though they have an inadequate work/life balance, and that they wished work would not take up such a large proportion of their lives (Work-life balance statistics UK, 2023). The likelihood is then that if you are experiencing burnout to some degree, you are far from alone. Having a work/life balance is of course such a contributor because if you suffer from burnout, it can often be hard to find the time or energy to be able to invest in yourself and anything you enjoy doing, such as hobbies, activities or just spending time with those that you love or want to be around. Of course, this isn't limited to adults too. With educational institutions such as schools, colleges and university being so competitive, there is often a struggle with student burnout too. Especially since being a young person comes with it's own challenges to face alongside learning academically or indeed practically, young people are equally still discovering who they are, what they want from life and what to make of themselves at an accelerated rate. With many of us still going through this journey of discovery as adults too, understanding oneself, who we love or don't love, who we wish to surround ourselves with and ultimately trying to find the essence of who we are to be happy, it can be a heavy load to carry if you cannot muster any energy or think straight from lethargy, lack of sleep or other symptoms associated with the dreaded burnout.



Burnout is more common with modern work culture. But how do we tackle it?



Battling Burnout

"Ok, I'm more burnt out than a poorly modified car, what do I do about it?" I hear you ask. Well, there are steps that can be taken to help to ease the symptoms of burnout regardless of the cause, but also to help prevent it from occurring again.

  • Eliminating the cause: This seems fairly simplistic and straightforward, but is often overlooked. Whilst it is never as simple as saying "Just get a new job" or "Study somewhere else" considering a change in workplace or environment may be beneficial in both boosting self-awareness of what is causing you to burn out, but also by offering you new opportunities. What is it about your environment that is impacting you? Is it the place, is it the nature of the work you are doing? Is it the people? Really consider what it is that you struggle with and whether or not changing it may be the solution.

  • Prioritise self-care: Often burnout can cause us to lose touch with who we are, what we want or just prevent us from really putting ourselves in our own list of priorities. Find some time, and schedule it in to practice self-care. This can come in the form of small things such as having a relaxing bath (if that's your thing), reading a book that might change your mindset, journalling how you feel, finding some more time for yourself if you are more of a giver, meditating or mindfullness exercises, yoga or anything that could be relaxing. Alternatively, this could take the form of larger things such as talking to someone about how you feel about them or something you've wanted to tell them, spending less time with people or on things that may be adding to your stress or reducing your self-esteem, taking steps or leaps to take a risk with something that you may have been putting off due to lack of time or certainty, or communicating with someone in your life that you would appreciate some more encouragement, love or space as self-care can very much involve talking to others and making changes too.

  • Invest in hobbies and exercise: Yet another thing that may sound somewhat tricky if you're feeling lethargic or just lacking energy, but doing something you are passionate about can help to bring about a greater neurochemical balance in the brain, boosting your energy levels and reducing some of symptoms of burnout. This can come in many forms, whether it's a social hobby or not, anything will provide some relief from burnout and trying to get into it if you have lost enthusiasm for everything in your life may seem tough, but it will be worth it. Regular scheduled exercise can also help to regulate yourself both physically and psychologically, and so even light physical activity such as going for a walk will be enough to stimulate some changes in the brain.

  • Good sleep and sticking to routine: Now we all know how important sleep is, it's no big secret that is only dispensed as advice from people like yours truly. We also know that burnout can cause severe sleep disruption, which can be a bit of a spanner in the works. Step in the introduction of a regular routine. A routine itself is not a cure-all solution, but by going to bed at the same time every day, and getting up at the same time every day (yes, including on weekends) your body has much more opportunity to regulate your Circadian Rhythm (sleep cycle) as it will better understand what time of day is what. Not only does this reduce the likelihood of you jolting awake at 3am thinking it should be a Sunday afternoon only to realise it's a dark, muggy Monday morning and you have to get up for work in 3 hours, but it also helps your body to know what it should be doing in relation to the time of day and can help to re-settle your sleep as much as possible without consulting a specialist.

  • A big one from me - TALK ABOUT IT: Often there is stigma around burnout because it isn't something that is commonly discussed socially or in the workplace, and there is frequent avoidance of mentioning it as often it embarasses people. Please please please be open about it, to friends, family and anybody else that you think could provide you with help or support. Just because you are experiencing it does not mean you need to tackle it entirely alone. This also extends to working with people like myself who will be able to provide more in depth strategies to help you to deal with burnout on your own terms, bringing me to my final point:

  • See a therapist/specialist: With any kind of struggle, there is always the option of coming to speak to myself or any other therapist to be able to break down your symptoms, look at their causes and work with you to be able to set up a treatment plan alongside teaching you coping strategies and providing you a toolkit to be able to better equip yourself for a stressful environment. This of course comes with the aim of reducing burnout, reducing stress and frustration but also to help apply any other strategies to multiple other facets of your life too. Seeing a hypnotherapist like myself will also teach you ways to stay calm and relaxed, and introduce you to methods and ways of thinking that may not have occurred to you before now.


Why Piper Therapy Services?

Here at Piper Therapy Services, we don't just provide basic therapy that is universal to everyone. By getting to know you, consulting you on all of the facets of what you come to us for and by tailoring our approaches to you with your help, we can produce a treatment plan that is as bespoke as we can possibly make it. This not only helps us to help you to tackle what you visit us for, but allows us to teach you and equip you with a plethora of psychological tools and strategies that you can apply to various aspects of your day-to-day life to help you on the daily. Whether you come to us for tackling burnout, or indeed anything else that we can offer, we would love to hear from you about setting up a working partnership and to start helping you today. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to get in touch.


References:

StandOutCV UK occupational statistics (2023). Retrieved from https://standout-cv.com/work-life-balance-statistics-uk


Burnout. (2023). Retrieved from https://mentalhealth-uk.org/burnout/




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