Burnout is a common problem in today's fast-paced and demanding world. It's a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. I've often heard that burnout is a lot like depression in that we get to a point where we feel that there's no hope. No hope in our work, no hope that we'll get time for ourselves, no hope that our situation will change. The good news is that with awareness and action, burnout can be prevented and managed. So let's dive into the signs and symptoms of burnout, and some strategies for navigating it.

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

  1. Feeling exhausted and drained, even after a good night's sleep.
  2. Decreased productivity and motivation.
  3. Feeling detached and cynical about work or other responsibilities.
  4. Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension.
  5. Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  6. Feeling irritable, impatient, or moody.
  7. Loss of enjoyment in activities that were once pleasurable.
  8. Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.

Strategies for Preventing and Managing Burnout

  1. Take breaks and recharge your batteries. You can't pour from an empty cup, so take regular breaks to do things you enjoy and relax. The three types of breaks I want you to think about are Micro (short breaks throughout your day), Meso (sleep - letting those cerebrospinal fluids do their job!), and Macro (Vacations)
  2. Set realistic expectations and boundaries. Learn to say no and prioritize your tasks. Knowledge is being able to say yes to something, wisdom is being able to say no to it.
  3. Practice self-care. Exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, and make time for hobbies and social activities.
  4. Seek support from others. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague, or seek professional help if needed.
  5. Find humor in your situation. Laughter is the best medicine, so try to find the funny side of things when you can. By shifting your mindset, you are basically using your attitude as a fulcrum and shifting the odds in your favor. Be careful however, don't just slap on a happy face and pretend things are good. It's ok to not be ok - you don't need fake positivity. Just be sure to look for the good in the situation though!
  6. Don't be a workaholic, be a work-a-happy. Find ways to make your work more enjoyable and fulfilling. Setting healthy boundaries and asking yourself "what does success look like to me?" is critical work.
  7. Be sure to regularly evaluate your values and look through that lens to your current situation. Is what I'm doing fulfilling? Does it align with my values?
  8. Leverage your strengths at work. Regularly we are on the "daily grind". Well, turns out you can use your strengths every day at work and actually ENJOY your time! If you don't know your strengths, I'd highly recommend looking into those through assessments, questionnaires, or even speaking with close friends and asking them "why are you friends with me?" and see what these awesome characteristics are that you bring!

Remember, burnout is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign that you're human and need to take care of yourself. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout, and taking action to prevent and manage it, you can stay healthy, happy, and be worka-happy :-)