Beating burnout

Beating burnout

Burnout and occupational stress are affecting more Australians than ever, with record numbers reporting burnout symptoms following the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. So what is burnout, and how can you protect yourself against it?

What is burnout?

Australia is a country of hard workers. From our sports stars to our frontline staff, we’re known for digging deep and giving our best. But when burnout hits, digging deep just doesn’t cut it anymore – you feel like there’s nothing left to dig!

With the pandemic causing blurred boundaries between work and home and workplaces busier than ever, one study found that more than half of Aussies are experiencing burnout.

While it’s not a clinical diagnosis, burnout describes a state where a person is so physically and emotionally exhausted that they’re not able to complete their usual daily tasks anymore. It can affect work, relationships and quality of life.

Signs you might be burned out

Burnout is usually associated with work but it can affect people who act as caregivers or serve other roles in the community outside of paid work as well.

It’s associated with stress and generally ‘over-doing it’ for a prolonged period of time until the person is completely drained. It can make existing mental health conditions like depression, anxiety or personality disorders more painful and difficult to manage.

Common signs of burnout include:

  • Increased anxiety or stress
  • Low mood
  • Trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Lack of motivation
  • Being unable to concentrate or experiencing memory issues
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or colleagues
  • Emotional symptoms such as irritability, lashing out, feeling upset or fragile
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea and a loss of interest in sex

Practical ways to beat burnout

The first step to preventing burnout is to be realistic about what you’re capable of achieving. It might be okay to push yourself for a short period of time: to meet a deadline or study for an exam, but consistently pushing beyond your limits is a surefire way to get burnt out.

Listen to your body and mind. Make a note of what triggers your stress response. Speak to managers, family members or friends about renegotiating timelines and responsibilities if you find you’re getting overwhelmed.

Most importantly, care for yourself. Rest, relax and prioritise healthy habits. Things to try include:

  • Taking a relaxing bath
  • Having a break from social media or screens
  • Creating boundaries between work and personal spaces, like working in a different location in your home or turning work emails off on your phone
  • Moving your body and connecting with others – try a walk with a friend or a group exercise class

If you find you’re still feeling burnt out after making lifestyle changes, it might be a good idea to speak to a professional.

Reach out for support

Just like physical illnesses, the treatment and specialist care a person might need for one mental illness may not be suited to the next person.

As the largest private provider of mental health care in Australia, we are dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of those we treat, with whatever pathway they need.

We offer a range of services designed to support people experiencing mental health issues associated with financial stress, including anxiety, depression, and a wide range of other conditions.

We encourage you to reach out to our expert team who can assist you in finding the right avenue for your mental health care journey.