Burnout is a common experience, particularly within the workplace. It can leave you feeling disempowered, helpless and out of control. The reality is, the symptoms of burnout can be difficult to recognize and so while prevention is a best-case scenario, it’s not always possible to spot the signs ahead of time.
Luckily, there are ways to raise your awareness of how burnout can manifest, and most importantly, ways to recover should burnout occur. Whether you are in the early stages of noticing a few, gradual symptoms of burnout or recognize yourself as experiencing ongoing and increasingly challenging symptoms, it’s important to remember there are ways you can move forward and recover.
Here are four ways you can work towards recovering from burnout.
The first step to eventual burnout recovery is identifying the signs and symptoms. Common signs of burnout include:
If you feel yourself experiencing any of these early signs, it’s important to recognise and acknowledge them, rather than trying to put on a brave face and carry on.
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, you might be experiencing one of the five stages of burnout. Take a look at our guide which explains and helps you to identify the five stages of burnout.
Once you’ve spotted the signs and have identified what you’re feeling as a form of burnout, you can start working towards recovery. Rather than trying to solve burnout in one go, try working out your next move in smaller, more manageable steps.
This could be taking time off work – whether it’s an afternoon, a day, or weeks, depending on what you need. If you’re in the early stages of burnout, it’s important to take time to reflect on your feelings and start resetting your mental health. If you think you might need longer, consider speaking to someone you trust in your workplace about reducing your hours each week over a longer period of time, so you can learn to manage the symptoms you’re experiencing and dedicate time to recovering.
As with any mental health concern, sharing your thoughts and feelings is a positive and empowering step towards feeling better in yourself. While it can feel vulnerable and exposing, it can also help you to clarify your emotions and better understand what you need to do in order to recover. So, perhaps the first small step you take is telling someone close to you how you’ve been feeling. This could be someone at work who understands the pressure you’re dealing with, or a friend or family member you trust, or your HR department who can help organise formal leave.
Another empowering decision to make is to take a step back from work, or whatever commitments could be contributing to your experience of burnout, and examine your options.
It’s important to give yourself the space and time you need to make positive choices for your mental health.
This could be deciding that you need a more supportive workplace and allocating time to exploring other options. Another example is setting boundaries with colleagues or friends to ease feelings of pressure and stress. While these might not feel like long-term solutions, knowing that you have options will help you on your road to recovery.
Once you’re clear about what options you have, you can start making positive choices for your mental health. This can seem daunting however, as explored above, there are small ways you can start to take back control that can help lead to eventual burnout recovery.
Start by prioritising what is achievable and realistic. When we are working, it can often feel like every task has the same level of importance, when in reality, some things can wait until we are less busy. While prioritising is effective in the workplace, it can also be an effective practice in your personal life too. If you are feeling burnt out at work and also can’t seem to take time for yourself in the evenings or weekends, then consider prioritising how you spend your personal time and organise social plans. Create a timetable that works for you, and stick to it – whether it’s keeping the evenings free on certain days of the week, or dedicating some mornings or lunch hours to self-care.
Another way to take back control is by delegating. Again, this is typically more common in the workplace however there’s no reason for you to not delegate in your personal life too. While it can feel difficult to do, particularly if you’re worried about letting go of certain tasks, try passing on smaller, admin based tasks to start with and see how you get on - and how helpful it can feel.
For more insights, read on to discover three tips for dealing with burnout.
The process of recovering from burnout can not only feel daunting but also, it can take time.
It could be a matter of weeks or months, yet the key thing to remember is that there is a way out, there is always hope and there will be a time when you feel better. Taking positive steps towards recovery starts with identifying what’s challenging for you, taking a step back to prioritise your mental health, considering your options and making empowered changes to eventually overcome burnout.
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