Top tips on managing burnout and how it contributes to your overall wellbeing - Medshield Movement

Top tips on managing burnout and how it contributes to your overall wellbeing

I am not sure about you but all around me people are expressing feelings of being exhausted, low on energy, tired and feeling depleted. It Is therefore important to make a conscious effort to be proactive about managing our energy levels and wellbeing to prevent us from burning out. We cannot rely on organisations alone to prevent us from burning out, we also have a role to play, a very important one. 

Know that you are alone if you are feeling exhausted, depleted, or experiencing negative thoughts – 

  • The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2022 Trends Report states that “burnout and stress are at all-time highs across professions.”
  • The Global Burnout Study (January 2022) found that employee burnout increased by more than 5% in the previous 12 months. 40% of those surveyed from 30 countries were experiencing burnout. This had increased from 29.6% in 2020. Women in middle-management roles had the highest level of burnout among all job levels.
  • Mental health is one of the top 10 conditions contributing to the burden of disease in SA
  • 16.5% of the adult population in SA have a mental health disorder including anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems

What is burnout?

Often I hear the phrase “I am feeling so burnt out” but do we actually know what it means? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterised by feelings of energy depletion leading to exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and negative or cynical feelings about one’s job, leading to reduced professional efficacy. (WHO, 2019). 

Burnout can arise from internal or external factors or a combination of both. For example burnout can be caused by work overload, feeling isolated, lack of control, feelings of lack of fairness, conflict between your values and your organisations values, lack of recognition or a lack of coping techniques (resilience, proactive personality), poor time management, lack of ability to cope with pressure and adapt to change.

Burnout affects both our physical and our mental health. It results in a high level of exhaustion and can often lead to an increased propensity for illness, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and even heart disease. In more severe cases it can lead to death. Some more common consequences of burnout are headaches, depression, anxiety, negative attitudes, increased stress, reduced performance, exhaustion, cardiovascular problems, stomach issues and insomnia. 

Some Burnout warning signs – 

  • Having a negative and cynical attitude at work
  • Dreading going into work and wanting to leave once you get there
  • Having low energy and little interest at work
  • Having feelings of emptiness
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Being absent from work a lot
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Being irritated easily
  • Thinking your work doesn’t have meaning or make a difference
  • Pulling way emotionally from friends and coworkers
  • Feeling that your work contribution goes unrecognised
  • Physical complaints such as headaches, illness, backache
  • Thinking of quitting work

If you are at risk of burnout you need to do something about it urgently. Even if you are not at risk you can still be proactive and put healthy habits in place to prevent burnout. Complete this quick survey to see if you are at risk.

Here are my top tips to manage burnout 

  1. Try to exercise / move your body for 30 minutes a day (Marshall fitness is a fun free YouTube dance workout, go for a walk, do 10 squats every time you go to the toilet, do calf raises when you brush your teeth, park further away from the shops)
  2. Go for a full physical health check (burnout symptoms manifest in our bodies)
  3. Make use of your leave days
  4. Get into nature
  5. Try this circle of concern exercise
  6. Reflect and improve on your work patterns – do you take your lunch break? Do you switch off from work when you get home? When you are on leave are you REALLY on leave and don’t respond to work calls/ emails?
  7. Try relaxation techniques – 4 square breathing (breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4, hold for 4, repeat)
  8. Download an app to support you to practice mindfulness (Headspace, DownDog, “I am”)
  9. Talk to those closest to you about how you are feeling so that they can be there for you. Be clear about asking for what you need.
  10. Reach out to SADAG (for free counselling), or join their weekly support groups

Know that you are not alone. Commit to doing one of the above this next month to start your journey to building healthier habits and a life reflective of energy, wellbeing and vitality. 

Joanna Leigh Maingard – Wellness Specialist

@whorunstheworld_jo – Instagram

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