Burnout: Everything you need to know

According to a study by The American Institute of Stress, about 77% of people are physically affected by uncontrolled stress. Stress affects your body, and your body affects your mind. Burnout is a reality for many who work overseas and are far from their support system. It is important that you do not work through it alone and look at all your irons in the fire with a critical eye!

According to the Dictionary of Social Work, burnout is the result of work-related stress and frustration characterised by varying degrees of depression and apathy. We all feel tired and exhausted at times, but it’s important to know when to start adjusting your environment, habits or workload.

What causes burnout?

Burnout is caused by long-term stressors. A stressor is a chemical, environmental condition or external event that acts as a trigger for the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol. External events that may cause stress include, among others, traffic, a lack of physical activity, the demands of family, overexposure and lost keys. Stressors cause physical, chemical and mental reactions in your body and in the long run it can break down your immune system.

Symptoms of burnout

When you are constantly under stress, you may struggle to deal with daily issues and respond more negatively to your environment. Symptoms such as insomnia, forgetfulness and poor concentration are the first warning signs. According to Good Housekeeping.co.za, people who suffer from burnout withdraw from friends and family and become indecisive and apathetic about their responsibilities. They are also at risk of becoming dependent on energy drinks, sleeping pills or other remedies.

In the final stage of burnout, one becomes depressed. It is important to get help in time to prevent self-destructive thoughts from getting the upper hand. Burnout occurs especially among caring professionals such as social workers, doctors and nurses, but nowadays more and more people in other professional occupations are experiencing this.

How do you combat burnout?

To prevent burnout, you need to strengthen your immune system, sleep enough and get stress levels under control. How do you do it? Meditate regularly, share your problems and challenges with friends and family, exercise more and eat healthy. Meditation means relaxing for at least 5 minutes a day and doing breathing exercises. According to the 4-7-8 technique, you must inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds; repeat these four times. Meditation not only means to clear your mind of distractions or thoughts, but also to fill it with something positive. Meditate on a Bible verse or something you are grateful for.

Because stress affects your body and mind, you must fight it by getting physically active and focusing your mind on something you want to think about. If you are struggling to do it yourself, it is wise to consult a clinical psychologist.

It is always good to reflect on your situation, with what and whom you surround yourself. Be honest with yourself about your behaviour patterns and your daily decisions on how to spend your time.

Photo: kinga-howard-unsplash

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