Recognising the process of burning out, and how to prevent it

There is a process or flow that takes place to create burnout. You may not notice, it could be something insignificant, but they all add up. And before you realise, you are burning out.
So how can you recognise this process and what can you do?

7 signs of burnout infographic
Source: ReachOut Australia

Now if you imagine a stack sitting in front of you, each layer consists of drivers that determine how you live your life.
At the top of the stack are your values – those that are important to you.
Next will be your beliefs – they drive actions and behaviours.
And mixed in between all these are your basic human needs.
The most common reason for a person to experience burnout is because they do not have values that support their well-being and mental health. They are just not on their list.
If you don’t value something, you won’t prioritise it. You can consciously desire it, you can even will it to happen, but eventually you go back to your habits.
Now, if you then overlay that with the need to feel significant, job security, career progression, you will start to realise you are working longer hours, answering emails at all hours, not carving out family time or any me time. There is no focus on health as it is simply not on your radar.
The result is no boundaries in place and the person becomes another burnout statistic.

So what can we do to prevent burnouts?

The first steps are the easy ones – get on a balanced diet, sleep, keep the alcohol down to a minimum, cut down the coffee and get some regular exercise.
Find an accountability group, make it a challenge at work or do it with your partner. The main aim is to get some standards in place and get started.
Second – To make the first steps stick, you need to consciously commit to having a long and healthy life as a key value to you.
Ask yourself why you want this, how can this benefit you, what are you aiming to get out to this. Connect these with your beliefs and you can create habits that will prevent burnouts.
Third – At any given time, our two emotional states are driven by two factors – fear or love. It is important to be able to manage your mind and your emotional state through positive and empowering thoughts. This starts in the morning and goes throughout the day.
Fear sits behind a lot of burnout and it drives irrational behaviours. However, you can circumnavigate this response by understanding what triggers this in you. Your triggers will teach you where you need to grow or let you know there is a behaviour you have yet to own in yourself.
There are many resources available out there to help you improve your mental health and prevent burnouts.
For example, start internally by looking at what your employer is offering. Tap into any employee-run programs that encourage accountability and provide support for you to achieve your goals of maintaining a good mental health.
There are many mindfulness mobile apps (e.g. headspace) available out there too that are very useful in helping you manage your mental health so do look out for those.
Another way to prevent burnout is through intense self-reflection. If you answer emails late at night all the time, ask yourself why? If you are finding yourself working longer than normal hours on a regular basis – why? For what purpose? Why am I doing it?
Keep asking that until you identify the triggers that set you off. Then work on setting boundaries and goals to help you manage them.
Cover image: Shutterstock 

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