Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Burnout in the course of dealing with a pandemic can make you feel emotionally drained and unable to function in the context of many aspects of life. Burnout can lower your motivation and cause you to feel helpless, hopeless, and resentful.
In our always-on world, burnout has long been a threat. But since 2020, because of the lockdown, burnout became rampant, seemingly overnight. Within weeks millions of people lost their jobs and faced financial and food insecurity.
More than half of UK employees say they they have been expected to work outside of regular working hours during lockdown, contributing to many people reporting some negative effects of burnout since home working began.
Here are the symptoms of burnout:
Burnout often happens to people who always say ‘yes’, disregarding how they really feel, because they have a hard time setting limits. You find it difficult to indicate what is enough for you because you like helping people or want to help them. You often find other people’s wishes more important than your own, because you find it difficult to say ‘no’.
Worry and anxiety
You feel anxious and worried, especially if it’s linked to your performance at work. You might feel better when you get home and do things you enjoy but the anxiety returns as soon as you’re back at work. Research shows that burnout is related to the development of mood disturbance,
depressive symptoms and anxiety.
Insomnia or disturbed sleep
Having trouble falling or staying asleep, as well as a persistent feeling that you are exhausted or haven’t had enough rest. This can include feeling physical or emotional feelings of tiredness, exhaustion, being drained, or dreading the day or week ahead.
The person may feel that they just want to avoid everyone as they feel too frustrated and too busy to form and maintain friendships, leading to spending more time alone and losing social interaction.
How to manage burnout
There is a way out of this predicament. ‘The problem with working from home is that it becomes almost impossible for us to separate our work lives from our personal time,’ says Andrew Cooke, Strategic Director at co-working and workspace provider Bruntwood Works.
‘The key to escaping the stress that builds up during the day is being able to draw that line: by implementing some best practices to keep your workday from invading your downtime. That way, staff can prevent burnout and be more productive in the day to day.’
The good news is that breaking the cycle starts with some small changes in your daily habits. Bruntwood Works teamed up with experts at Push Doctor to find out how you can truly unwind from work when you’re stuck at home.
Unfortunately, burnout is sometimes part and parcel of caring for a friend or family member with dementia. We encourage the people on our courses to think about their basic needs. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you drinking enough water? Are you eating regular meals? Listen to your body, and don’t ignore physical signs that tell you that you need something. When we push ourselves too far, we are more likely to become unwell. Take opportunities to breathe, stretch, and exercise when you can.
Claire Goodchild, CEO of Dementia Carers Count, advises: ‘Ask for and accept help. We often feel guilty asking for support and tend to wait until we are desperate before reaching out. Be kind to yourself by asking for help sooner, and ask a wider circle of people – not everyone will be able to help, but it may surprise you how many people are happy to.’
Claire adds: ‘Take time out. We all need to recharge our battery, so we have enough energy available to give to others. Allow yourself to meet your own needs by taking small chunks of time to rest and recharge. This will enhance your quality of life and your ability to be there for those who rely on you.’
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.