How to Prevent and Cope with Burnout

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Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can be caused by a variety of reasons. Comms people are no strangers to this feeling, we’re usually under a lot of pressure, having to manage crises, meet tight deadlines and, sometimes, work around the clock. The media never sleeps, and neither do we…(not quite, but you get the idea).

Common contributing factors include overwhelming job demand, role ambiguity, and a lack of social support that can leave employees feeling ignored, ostracized and/or not feeling like an integral part of the company.

No manager, co-founder, or CEO wants to lose any of their best talent to burnout, and most of the time they don’t even know that their employee is burned out until it is too late.

With this in mind we’ve compiled some useful tips to prevent and recover from a burnout.

1. Exercise

Regular exercise can make you feel refreshed and energised. Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress. The endorphins released when exercising will trigger positive feelings within the body to help boost your mood, and it’s a great way to clear built up adrenaline (which we get a lovely serving off every time there is a minor panic!)

2. Re-evaluate your priorities

Burnout is an obvious sign that something important in your life is either missing or not going the way you want it to. Take time to think about what matters most to you, go through your hopes, goals, and ambitions. Are you neglecting something or someone that is truly important to you?

A burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and slow you down to give you time to rest, reflect, and recover. In this time, set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that truly matter to you. Make your priorities known to those around you, so that they can support you and ensure they are helping to manage your time to focus on the good things.

3. Diet

Support your mood and energy levels by having a healthy diet. As they say, “you are what you eat”, so what you put in your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day. Minimize sugar, caffeine and refined carbs, you may crave sugary snacks or comfort foods but these high-carbohydrate/sugar foods quickly lead to a crash in you mood and energy.

Eat more Omega-3, fish oil reduces body fat and stimulates the use of fatty acids for the production of energy to give your mood a boost. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines, seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.

Avoid nicotine. Smoking when you're feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol temporarily reduces worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off. Hard to avoid when you may need to regularly take part in or run events - our Founders tip “grab a soda and lime and no one needs to know it’s not a gin and tonic”.

4. Explore hobbies and interests

Nourish your creative side, creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favourite hobby.  

Encourage yourself to find a hobby that has little or no relation to your profession and pursue it with passion! A hobby that uses an entirely different set of skills can provide your heart and mind with a satisfying break from the weekly work grind and set you on a good path for increased productivity.

5. Socialize or Retreat

Socialising can be beneficial to most people, as it takes you away from the work environment and gives you something else to focus on. Although socialising can seem like an exhausting task when you’re burned out, for most it can be a positive stimulus. However, for those who are introverted or just prefer having time and space to themselves, socialisation can be exhausting, so if this is you, it’s best to retreat and get some isolation in order to recharge your battery. The trick? If it feels like you’re forcing it, it’s a sign you don’t want to do it. Listen to your inner voice and do you.

6. Don’t eat lunch at your desk.

Taking your lunch break in another area or outside, for example, at a break space or a nearby restaurant sets you up to finish the week out strong. You can go alone to get physically and psychologically away from the office, or, if you see a co-worker who is about to hit the wall, taking them out to socialise can be beneficial for both of you.

7. Rest

Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you can completely disconnect from everything. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

Also, make sure that you are getting enough rest.  According to The Sleep Council UK, it is recommended that you give yourself 7-9 hours of sleep a day for sufficient rest.

8. Talk to someone

Start by having a conversation with people you feel comfortable speaking with and can trust. Try talking with your superiors, assuming you are comfortable and trust him or her. If you can’t talk to your superiors, try talking to friends, family, your significant other, or a healthcare professional. Don’t just wing it, you should prepare for this conversation–after all, it’s an important one. There are people who can and want to help you, but you need to reach out. A problem shared is better than one just in your head, talking with people, especially those at work can help in implementing change in your work environment to solve the issues that cause burnout.

9. Time off

If you feel that the effects of a burnout are present or if it seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your holiday allowance days or ask for a temporary leave-of-absence or mental health day—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue the other burnout recovery steps.

Remember, your health should always come first! Whether physical or mental, always make sure you are taking care of yourself.

If you have any tips that you think are useful for burnout or to let us know what works for you, hit us up on our Twitter!

BY TOTO OBI, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.