Modern life can be very stressful and demand a lot of energy from us. While a moderate amount of stress can make us more productive, when it exceeds our ability to cope, we can experience burnout. Burnout is a recently recognised medical condition that can impact our physical and mental health. But what can we do to prevent these problems and cope better with the stresses of everyday life? Here are our tips for coping with stress and burnout.
Signs Of Burnout
Constant stress can leave us feeling fatigued and struggling to cope with daily pressures. Unlike temporary tiredness that can be fixed with a good night’s sleep, burnout is a general state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. Symptoms include:
- Constant fatigue and inability to recover, despite having adequate amounts of sleep
- Feeling like everyday is a bad day or having to put in considerable effort to accomplish basic responsibilities
- Loss of interest in your favourite activities
- Spending your day in mindless activities or indulging in over-consumption (e.g., food, alcohol, smoking, shopping, etc)
The Long-Term Impacts Of Stress And Burnout
Studies show that chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. (1,2) This is because when we are stressed, our brains produce an increased amount of cortisol, which disrupts your body’s natural processes. Our biology responds to stress hormones by increasing inflammation in the body. As a result, high levels of inflammation can leave us more vulnerable to develop cardiovascular diseases, various forms of cancers, gastrointestinal issues, and mental health disorders.
Other physical impacts of burnout include:
- Sleep and memory problems
- Concentration issues
- Weight gain
- Muscle tension and pain
- Heart diseases, high blood pressure and stroke
- Depression and anxiety
Tips For Coping With Stress And Burnout
The good news is that burnout does not have to be permanent. There are lots of things we can do to support our mental wellbeing, including:
- Recognise the first signs of stress. This is paramount for preventing a potential burnout episode. (3) Instead of waiting until you are no longer able to get out of bed due to exhaustion, try to prevent this by incorporating daily self-care practices into your routine. Self-care should be mental, emotional and physical in equal measures.
- Incorporate mental self-care practices. These can include relaxation sessions, taking regular breaks from work and social media, including activities that take your mind off things, etc.
- Look after your emotions. Emotional self-care means protecting yourself from the factors that deplete your energy. This can mean reducing the time you spend on watching negative news and events, asking for help from a trusted friend or having a catch up with someone you love.
- Prioritise your physical health. Physical self-care can include daily activities and practices that benefit your physical health. You can choose a form of daily movement that you enjoy, such as weight lifting, running, yoga, aerobic classes, or a simple walk in the park. In the meantime, ensure that you follow a nutritious diet that covers all your nutrient needs.
Stress and burnout can affect anyone, especially those with a busy lifestyle. If these issues are not addressed, these conditions can lead to more serious health consequences in the long-term. To ensure optimal functioning and avoid stress and burnout, take regular breaks from work, ask for support whenever you need it, and implement regular self-care practices that replenish your physical and mental energy.