An increasing number of Australians are either suffering from, or at higher risk of burnout as a result of the pandemic and its consequences; WFH conditions, home schooling, economic uncertainty, and social distancing measures to name a few.
A recent Australian survey by Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey found that amongst 2,700 executives, 84% of Australian bosses are at risk of burnout, 75% feel pulled in too many different directions and 60% feel stressed, anxious and prone to extreme self-doubt. This is coupled with newly revealed figures by The Australian, that more than one million Australians are seeking mental assistance since the Covid outbreak.
October is Safe Work and Mental Health month, national campaigns that raise awareness towards the signs, symptoms and strategies for combating burnout. These movements also encourage individuals to make the commitment to care for their mental wellbeing and the safety of others.
As burnout becomes an increasing concern for organisations, employees and the unemployed, we've pulled together a list of the signs and symptoms to look out for, along with pro-active steps you can take to combat burnout.
What is Burnout?
According to WHO, Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the pressure continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a specific role in the first place.
More simply put, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, have depleted energy levels and begin to feel less capable at work or in your personal life, you are showing signs of burnout.
The adverse effects can manifest in all aspects of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it's essential to address burnout the moment signs start to appear.
Signs of Burnout:
Alienation from work-related activities. Individuals experiencing burnout might view their role as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with and also emotionally distance themselves from colleagues.
Physical symptoms. Chronic stress can manifest in physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
Emotional exhaustion. Burnout can make people feel drained, unable to cope, and feel always exhausted. They often lack the energy to get their work done.
Reduced performance. It can affect the ability to adequately undertake work or personal tasks. Individuals can also reflect constant negativity towards tasks and have difficulty concentrating.
Ways to Combat Burnout:
Turn to others. Reach out to those you are closest with; become more social with coworkers; limit contact with negative people and perhaps connect with a cause or community group that is personally meaningful to you.
Reframe the way you tackle tasks. Try and proactively search for or prioritise work that you are interested in. Also, ensure you've got your work-life balance right and take time off to recuperate. If you’re job searching, then take time out or focus on professional development areas that are of interest to you.
Revaluate your priorities. Don't overextend yourself in your work and personal life and learn to say 'no'. Take a break from technology and do things you are passionate about instead. Set aside time to relax like yoga or meditation and ensure you're getting adequate levels of quality sleep.
Prioritise exercise. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout and can instantly boost your mood. Opt for exercise options that are enjoyable to ease back into a rhythm.
Support mood and energy levels with a healthy diet. What you put in your body has an impact on mood and energy throughout the day. Minimise sugar and refined carb intake along with other foods that can adversely impact your hormones. Also avoid nicotine, stimulants and drink alcohol in moderation.
Make sure you schedule leave. Despite Covid restrictions in place regarding travel for some regions, it's still important to take personal leave to restore, relax and recuperate. It leads to higher productivity and motivation in the long run.
If you’re experiencing burnout and having difficulty navigating or require support, call or text Lifeline for support services on 0477 13 11 14 or call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. Both services also offer online chat options via their website.
Additional Guidance to Support Your Organisation or Employees at Risk
Should you need further guidance around safeguarding your organisation, employees or even yourself from burnout then reach out to us.