Self-worth is commonly determined by how productive you are. You can often be made to feel guilty for taking a break. As a result, you might not know when to pause and how to prioritise your mental health, which might lead to burnout.
Burnout might make you detached from what you previously valued and enjoyed, which can result in feeling exhausted and unfulfilled.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is mental exhaustion that can negatively affect your work performance and other areas of your life. And, while chronic stress might lead to burnout, day-to-day stress and burnout are slightly different conditions. You can feel overwhelmed as a reaction to being under pressure when experiencing both burnout and stress. If you are experiencing stress rather than burnout, though, once stressors are removed, your symptoms will improve. On the other hand, a person who’s experiencing burnout might have a hard time imagining that things can ever get better and struggle despite having a break.
Burnout is typically associated with:
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Emotional numbness
- Disengagement from your responsibilities and personal life
- Increased negativity
- Feeling drained
- Decreased productivity
- Sleep difficulties
- Concentration problems
Burnout affects people differently and depends on personal circumstances; you might relate to all of the signs mentioned above or just a few of them. You can determine whether you are burnout by considering how your day-to-day life is affected. For example, it’s normal to experience decreased productivity or lack of motivation once in a while, but if it’s a daily occurrence, it may be a bigger issue.
What causes Burnout?
One of the most common misconceptions about burnout is that it’s synonymous with tiredness. The solution for tiredness is taking a break from your responsibilities. Resting might reduce stress but also serves as an avoidance strategy that doesn’t address the underlying issue. Once you’re back in the same environment, the symptoms will return.
Additionally, we see burnout as an inability to handle stress. This implies that the individual is responsible for their burnout. However, the source of it is often an overly demanding environment.
Burnout isn’t classified as a medical condition, however, it has been featured by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases and is now recognised as a common occupational problem.
There can be various causes of occupational burnout such as:
- Heavy workload
- Long hours
- Unfair treatment
- Unclear job expectations
- Repetitive and monotonous tasks
- Pay that doesn’t reflect the effort
- The nature of the profession (for example, working in healthcare is associated with increased stress)
However, if you are experiencing burnout, it may not be work-related. If you struggle to meet the demands of being a parent or caregiver you can suffer from it too.
Parental burnout might be caused by:
- Having little or no time for yourself
- Relationship problems
- No support from a partner or family members
- Taking care of a child with behavioural issues or long-term sickness
- Unrealistic expectations of parenthood.
A caregiver’s burnout often results from:
- Difficulty separating your role as a caregiver from your role as a partner/child/friend
- Not enough financial resources
- No external support or help from other family members
- Neglecting your own needs
Ultimately, burnout is a response to prolonged emotional stress regardless of your circumstances. When left untreated, burnout might not only make you unhappy but can also turn into anxiety and depression, so it’s best that you address the issue as soon as you spot the signs.
How Can Therapy Treat Burnout?
Even though you may be able to prevent burnout by having access to more support and practising self-care, this isn’t always available. You may not always prioritise your health until you begin to struggle.
Taking a break or a holiday isn’t always enough to solve the problem. You can however learn how to manage the challenges of your situation, which is why the best treatment option for it is therapy.
Firstly, a therapist will help you identify the causes of your burnout and the way it affects other aspects of your life. You can then learn healthy coping skills that allow you to keep stress to a minimum.
For example, you might learn how to set boundaries and say no to taking on more work than you can handle. A therapist will also encourage you to explore why it’s difficult for you to set them in the first place.
Another important part of therapy is learning how to listen to your body. Burnout is a gradual process so it’s helpful to be able to recognise when things become too much to prevent a relapse in the future.
Additionally, when you’re burnt out, you might feel that you are underperforming and not doing enough.
This is why one of the goals in therapy is to practise self-compassion which involves developing a non-judgemental attitude towards your situation. This can lessen the impact of negative experiences and help you adopt a more positive mindset. You’ll also be encouraged to engage in self-care to decompress from your stressful environment.
How Therapy in London can help burnout
When it comes to burnout, the experience can be very subjective and your therapist will make sure that their methods align with your goals and needs.
Committing to therapy sessions is the first step to treating burnout as it will help you establish a regular space just for yourself, in which you can breathe, improve and eventually succeed.
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