The WHO defined burnout syndrome as a condition caused by chronic work-related stress. It’s characterised by exhaustion, depersonalisation, negativity and decrease in productivity.
- Fatigue, low productivity and creativity
- Depression, anxiety and disappointment
- Impaired cognitive functions (memory, attention)
- Inability to unwind and emotional numbness
- Losing the meaning of life, work; apathy
- Digestive problems
- Low sex drive
- Sleep disorders
- Tendency to addictions (alcohol, nicotine, drugs, sweets)
- High blood pressure and risk of having a heart attack
- Tiredness, exhaustion, low energy
Who should one do when these symptoms appear?
It’s important to acknowledge it. Don’t suppress it. Be kind to yourself and don’t push too hard when they appear. Speak about it with people close to you and share your feelings.
The next step is finding help – a psychologist or psychiatrist who’ll try to let you see your life and priorities from a different perspective and give you concrete tips on how to make improvements. Take a so-called sabbatical (long vacation) and consider switching your job, employer or field. Don’t rush it and try to deal with it fast as it could exhaust you even more. Give yourself time.
How to prevent burnout?
Prevention is essential so it’s worth investing your time and energy into it rather than deal with the effects of our burdens and the fact we didn’t put ourselves first.
- Don’t be alone – Find people who’ll support, love and care about you. Cultivating relationships with your family, friends and colleagues who’ll support you through your hard times will improve your well-being.
- Don’t push it – Set realistic goals and requirements. It’s important to say NO in moments when you feel exhausted.
- Find balance – Be good at time management and have a “colourful” personal and work schedule. Set boundaries to time spent working and time spent on yourself.
- Relax – Sleep and relax enough. Various relaxation techniques such as stretching, meditation or a short walk during lunch, can help you at work. You can practice these even outside of work. Yoga, autogenic training, Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation or mindfulness are great.
- Hobbies and “you” time – Spend your time on hobbies and yourself. Not only for others, but be there for yourself.
- Be kind to yourself – Ask yourself about your feelings and needs. Be in contact. Feel your thoughts, energy and body. If you’re not feeling well, focus on the cause. Don’t put uncomfortable feelings on another track and pay attention to them.
- Exercise – Find a sport or an activity that you like and makes you forget about the world. You’ll put all your troubles behind and the endorphins will definitely boost your mood.
- Nature – Go for a walk in nature. Find favourite spots where you can put everything behind you and let the time flow.
- Don’t be a slave to the technologies – The digital world and modern technologies are fun and make our lives easier for sure but try to live without them as well. Allow yourself not to be online 24/7 and don’t go to bed while checking on your work emails or wake up with Facebook or Instagram in your hands. Do a digital detox. Various apps and features showing your screen time might help.
What to do when…
When to see a professional?
Whenever you feel like talking about it. You can seek help even if you just want to get a different perspective or find new solutions to your problems.
What are the basic principles of mental hygiene?
Good-quality sleep – Ideally, everyone should sleep somewhere between 7–9 hours a night. It all depends on your age of course. Setting a time you’ll regularly go to sleep and wake up will help a lot.
Balanced and healthy diet – is a building block of mental health. It supplies us with energy and creates our body constitution.
Regular exercise – It’s indispensable to overall health. Regular exercise supports our physical and mental health. It relieves stress and anxiety and boosts self-confidence. That’s why it’s an essential factor of mental health prevention. At the same time, it improves the life’s quality of people already suffering from mental illness (mostly depression treatment). Try to find an activity you’ll like and practise it 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
Time management – We all have a huge amount of responsibilities, that’s why it’s important to master time management. Add enough relaxing time to your daily schedule (active or passive), and set working and “you” time.
Relaxing and autoregulation exercises – These are essential for mental hygiene, they help with purposeful stress management and support inner balance. Relaxing rids us of muscle and mental tension and regenerates and recovers our bodies (including the brain). Try yoga, walking, exercising or meditation.