Hi Guys! How you doing? What’s new?
So this topic has only recently become relevant to me as I’ve been experiencing it a lot myself these past few months. And that’s absolute burnout.
The tiredness that comes with having had thrown yourself into everything and feeling so finished at the end. And so many of us go through this without knowing how to deal with it, especially as young adults.
Life is not easy, period. In fact it’s plain hard most of the time.
You’re working, wanting to make more money, pay for something or just trying to survive. The fact is, you’re always DOING. Hardly taking time out to just be still or silent. Life demands to bloody much!
And all these stresses usually begin to amp up when you start university or enter the working world. From then on, it’s usually one thing after the other. If it’s not trying to do as best as you can at uni, it’s trying to secure a job that pays you enough to live, alongside everything else, which isn’t easy at all.
And at some point, you’ll experience burnout – but what is it exactly?
And what I love about this very helpful definition, is that it makes clear what burnout is and is not. It is not the feelings of exhaustion and tiredness that many of us regularly have, nor is it something that can be easily combatted.
Burnout is also very different from stress.
Importantly, burnout leaves the person feeling absolutely drained of motivation and can cause you to feel disengaged. It’s often the pre-cursor to depression and the damage it distinctly emotional, affecting your reason of being.
But how does one get to burnout?
Well, it’s a long process of ignoring the needs of your body and mind.
Psychology Today describe this as, “burnout is not simply a result of long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when a person is not in control of how the job is being carried out. Equally pressing is working toward a goal that doesn’t resonate, or when a person lacks support—in the office or at home. If a person doesn’t tailor responsibilities to match a true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, the person could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.”
So it seems that burnout is an accumulation of unfulfilling decisions that ends up becoming an unfulfilling life. You do things that don’t nourish your soul and when you don’t tackle it early enough you’re bound to experience burnout.
But unfortunately, the way life is setup it’s really hard to get around this. Many of us aren’t afforded the luxury of slowing down. We often have to continue going no matter what’s happening in our lives. And the results are deeply troubling.
The Guardian, reported that 526,000 workers in the UK suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, and 12.5m working days were lost as a result over that period. And though burnout often affects more women than men, Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew saw an increase of men reporting burnout-symptoms in the consulting room.
It could be due to the fact that the UK works longer hours than most of its European Union neighbours; an average of 42.7 hours a week compared to 41.6 across the EU. This is coupled up with the rising number of younger freelance, part-time workers, cost of living and renting – leaving many in a precarious state of survival.
This can be particular difficult for BAME people, Grazia suggests. “People from BME or working class backgrounds often need to prove themselves more in the workplace, and so will often push themselves more – the irony being the work of BME and working class people is regularly dismissed or devalued.”
This is in addition to the often disregarded class aspect of burnout. Experiences from BME and second generation immigrants felt that they couldn’t be as open as their white counterparts about what they were going through, as they didn’t feel like they had the same safety nets. Instead they would need to push through and just ‘get on with it‘.
So how do we combat burnout?
Well, there is no easy way. In fact burnout is actually quite complex. Dr Boynton says that, “the problem with burning out is that it’s less about you, and more about the structures around you. We are working too hard, too much, and the pressure to keep calm and carry on in the face of a rapidly bleak future is clearly affecting many people in the UK. As cuts continue, work hours increase, the cost of living gets higher, and the political climate more toxic.”
And I’m very inclined to agree with him. Being burnt out isn’t something that happens overnight so there is no quick fix either. Many times it’s a result of situations that are very difficult to resolve, like financial issues, job or home pressures.
So stereotypical self care, like treating yourself, won’t necessarily work because the life you’re required to live is unfair and unequal. But there are still some things you can do to at least combat some of the symptoms, that left unchecked can spiral into full blown depression.
seek a counsellor
Counselling is an important way to deal with burnout. It encourages you find healthy ways to deal with difficult situations. And I am a strong advocate of this having had counselling at an important time in my life. The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network, Mind and Off The Record Youth Counselling are all really good to find a counsellor or therapist to suit your needs.
figure out when enough is enough
Sometimes the best way to avoid or combat burnout is to know your boundaries and limits and this can apply to some of the hardest of situations. Simply knowing what you can no longer continuing doing can save you from a world of stress. That job no longer fulfils you, you can no longer afford to pay or do something – figuring that out early on will help you to plan your next move before it comes to an unfortunate end.
cultivate a rich non-work life
Speaking as a true self-care blogger, finding your passion is also very useful to combatting burnout. When everything is falling apart around you, having that one thing that can give you an ounce of joy makes all the difference. So I say, find it, cultivate it and use it help you keep going.
So burnout in reality is quite serious and extremely difficult to avoid especially in this current climate. But learning to recognise its symptoms early on is very important to combatting burnout.