How to beat the burnout without quitting your job

Burnout can manifest in all aspects of life. It can be in our personal, professional and social lives

By Jyotika Aggarwal

Published: Tue 21 Dec 2021, 10:04 PM

“Burnout” has become very common in the past few decades. It can be characterised as having feelings of exhaustion and negativity related to one’s job, and or/even reduced professional optimisation. One of the major reasons of burnout can be lack of work:life balance.

People forget that to be constantly motivated towards achievement, this balance is of utmost importance. In fact, it is possible that many of us don’t even know how to find balance. It is possible that subconsciously, we overwork ourselves to fill our lives to a point that we experience burnout.

Another situation that adds stress is the way we lead our lives. In our professional space, we spend our time largely in the virtual world while being sedentary. At home, we spend time doing chores and other tasks that we see as “responsibilities”. This unhealthy cycle brings a sort of listlessness in our lives.

To add to this, we use social media as a break, which is counterproductive. We scroll mindlessly, thinking we are taking a break, and it makes us more anxious. We forget our values and get stuck in trying to compete and create the lifestyle we see on social media.

Our focus on material things also add to feelings of burnout. When we start hoping that material objects will bring us joy, we feel disappointed. These objects bring only shortlived happiness, so in order to feel that happiness again, we tend to buy more and more things, with diminishing emotional returns. In order to gain those “things”, we have to work longer hours, thus creating another baneful cycle that pushes us to reach burnout faster.

Burnout can manifest in all aspects of life. It can be in our personal, professional and social lives. Usually whenever there is burnout, it overflows into other parts as well.

There are five stages of burnout. It starts with the honeymoon phase: in this, we feel committed to the goal, energised and proactive. In the next stage, there is the onset of stress, we witness a reduction in our optimism.

In the third stage, the chronic stress sets in, we can feel the symptoms more intensely. Burnout is the next stage, where it becomes hard to cope. There is cognitive fog, and intense exhaustion. The last stage is chronic burnout. In this, the burnout has been going on for so long that the symptoms become embedded in your life.

Identifying burnout, however, is half the battle won. Making efforts in the right direction would help minimise and eventually alleviate burnout. The right self-care resources would be very helpful. Plus, use technology in a beneficial way. Find self-help strategies that work the best for you. Most of these are now available online, so pick up a few and practise them diligently. There is no instant way to reduce burnout, so add these self-help practices to your lifestyle. The easiest way to improve your mood is to exercise. So, add more movement to your day. Take the stairs, find exercises that you can do sitting on your seat. When you do a mild workout, there is a release of endorphins or happy hormones in our body. This improves our feelings tremendously. Try taking “micro” breaks.

When you’re going from one meeting to another, take five or 10 minutes to hit the pause button, think about something enjoyable and breathe in and out. Research suggests that if we do this after each task, we build reserve energy so we don’t feel so drained. It also acts like a joyful buffer between cognitive heavy tasks.

Recreating your own value system is another strategy that helps us break from the dogmatic lifestyle competition we find ourselves in. This will help us not only in breaking away from the materialistic realm, but also help us create work:life balance. During burnout, focus on your social connection. Healthy relationships are a boon, the love, care and happiness that we get from these reduce our mental load and, in turn, our burnout. Unplugging mentally and technologically is extremely important. When we are able to detach from work or tasks in a healthy way, it provides a break to our mind and body, allows us to replenish and be ready for the next day, without much overload from the previous day. If none of these strategies work, don’t shy away from consulting a mental health expert.

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