My final three blogs on the topic of burnout will look at exactly how we can make changes in the way we work in order to protect ourselves. If we’re lucky we spot the warning signs of impending burnout well before we are completely consumed by it and take necessary action. However, it’s probably more like that we steam on past our own individual breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion. We tend to learn the hard way that this will only cause further emotional and physical damage.
So – spot it early and take some time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout and feel healthy and positive again.
And use the “Three R” Approach!
Recognise, Reverse and Resilience
- Recognise Watch for the warning signs of burnout
- Reverse Undo the damage by seeking support and managing stress
- Resilience Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health
Also extremely importantly:
Connect with Others
One of the most effective actions we can take (but at the same time one which we really don’t feel like doing!) is to reach out to others. Why? Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress – talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm down your nervous system and relieve stress. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to find solutions – he or she just has to be a good listener who doesn’t judge you. This might be your partner, family or a close friend. Once you’ve talked things over, try to put aside what’s burning you out and make the time you spend with loved ones positive and enjoyable.
Chat at the water fountain!
Research has shown that being sociable with our work colleagues can help to protect us from job burnout. Just a quick few words at the water fountain or over a cup of coffee, or going for a drink together after work can all help. But do beware, hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. So choose to hangout with the positive ones!
Connect with your wider community
We can also immunise ourselves against burnout by casting out net a little further out – and connecting with people in our wider community (research has shown that this is one of the most powerful ways we can develop long term resilience).
You need to find a way of doing this which is meaningful for you. It might involve joining a social group, or it could be joining a group who share a common interest such as cycling or walking (and physical fitness is another proven barrier to burnout). If your line of work has a professional association or union, you might attend meetings and interact with others coping with the same workplace demands (and campaign for change). It’s never too late to expand your social network and if there is an element of helping others this can deliver immense pleasure and can help to significantly reduce stress as well as broaden your social circle.
While it’s important not to take on too much when you’re facing overwhelming stress, helping others doesn’t have to involve a lot of time or effort. Even small things like a kind word or friendly smile can make you feel good and help lower stress—for you and the other person.
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541
Book a counselling session today!