A Survival Guide to Burnout

I do not really know when the sleepless nights began, and I teetered on the edge of a cliff. Was it when my children were nearing the end of high school or college and finding their own feet? Was it the continual changes at work? Was it when the motorway traffic slowed to 50 miles per hour in anticipation of a (so-called) ‘smart motorway’ and my 20 minute journey home from work took nearly two hours instead? Or was it when it suddenly hit me I just wasn’t good enough at that job anymore? (note to self – I know I was more than good enough at my job, but I really did not feel like it in that moment). BURNOUT!

Many of us believe that working in a particular industry or profession brings unique pressures that no other profession or industry does. Having worked and volunteered in the private sector, the residential care sector, the NHS, education, and retail sector I can honestly say all of them can be equally as unhealthy for your mental wellbeing. No matter what your job role, if you stop paying attention to… YOU, you will reach burnout! I have been there myself and witnessed it in friends, family and colleagues all around.

We spend most of our waking hours at work, and sometimes it can feel like it’s consuming our entire life. We are wrapped in a blanket of feeling needed, being able to serve, and delivering results. Adrenalin keeps us going in work hours with the constant desire to perform and achieve. Underlying this is the constant knowledge that we need to perform and achieve, so we keep the job as we have the excuse of a mortgage/rent/putting food on the table/contributing our fair share. We need to be seen and noticed, be important, be indispensable! And then we go home.

Home is where we begin to unravel. We are angry the kids have left their laundry on the floor. Our partner has been home ages but the washing up still hasn’t been done. We still haven’t forgiven the expense of Christmas, birthdays, that holiday that cost more than we thought. The dog has chewed the post! Fatigue is hitting but there is no rest – there is a report to complete, emails to catch up on before going to bed. Honestly – where would we be without mobile technology – but that is a different story.

Sleep evades so we get up at 2:00am put some washing in the machine, check a few more emails, fall asleep on the sofa – wake up when others have risen with the alarm – time to go to work. The cycle begins again. STOP! I needed to stop.

Any of this starting to sound familiar?

My balance was out of kilter. Thankfully I did stop before falling off the edge of that cliff. I did not hit burnout, but I was burning out. I was lucky – my family had been propping me up for some time but I had not noticed till the moment I felt I was about to break. My process was to make a choice to move out of that rat race and follow a different path. Before you reach burnout, there are steps you can take to address it, here’s some of the actions I took:

  1. Get out into nature and exercise (even just a little bit)

  2. Eat a balanced diet

  3. Get some sleep! Switch off your gadgets in the evening

  4. Take a good look at what changes you can make at work, if there are none, you need to consider changing your job (if you don’t you could reach exhaustion and risk not having a job anyway)

  5. Most importantly, speak to someone – there is always support available

If all of this is ringing true, and you do feel emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, you need to reach out. Through counselling or psychotherapy you have the time and space to explore the issues you are currently facing no matter how big or small you see them, so you can begin your journey of recovery.

For a free phone consultation contact me via the website, email or phone 07539 141411.

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