When you’re a woman, it’s easy to feel like you are quite literally juggling everything. From your career to home and family, there’s a lot on your plate. It’s important that you take steps to avoid burnout, but so often, the very real ramifications of experiencing burnout aren’t taken as seriously as they should be.
If you were physically injured at work, for example, you would likely take time off to recover.
When you’re feeling the effects of mental injury in the form of burnout, you might not do the same, but this can lead to:
- Emotional effects like sadness or irritability
- Heart disease
- Substance misuse
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weakened immune function
Those are serious complications that can affect your mental and physical health in big ways.
So, recognizing and avoiding burnout is important for everyone, but especially women.
What is Burnout?
Burnout can be physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion stemming from prolonged stress. You may feel overwhelmed and as if you’re emotionally drained. That can then lead you to feel like you’re not able to meet the demands that are placed on you, and it becomes a cycle.
Symptoms of burnout include feeling exhausted at all times and feeling like everyday is a bad day. You might find nearly all parts of your day tedious or overwhelming, and you could feel like you’re never appreciated.
Burnout can trigger a loss of motivation, a sense of failure, and a cynical or negative outlook. You might feel detached from the people and the world around you.
Stress is different from burnout in some key ways. For example, when you’re just experiencing stress, you might feel overly engaged, but burnout can lead you to feel completely disconnected and disengaged.
So what can you do to avoid or overcome burnout?
Reach Out to People You’re Close To
If you start to notice the symptoms of burnout in yourself, one of the best things you can do to avoid completely slipping into disengagement is to reach out to the people who are close to you. You want to talk and share your feelings. Maybe you open up to your family, friends or your partner.
Don’t worry that you’re burdening them because that’s why we have close relationships with other people.
If you don’t want to share with your family, you can work on expanding your social network and creating new friendships.
Remind Yourself That More Effort Doesn’t Always Mean Better Results
We tend to get it ingrained in our minds that if we’re working hard and also working long hours, we’re performing better or we’re doing better work. That’s not true.
For most of us, there’s a threshold or sweet spot where once you go over that, you might actually be getting negative results. One such negative result is burnout.
If you feel yourself creeping toward that, you should take a step back. Realize that there’s a very strong chance that even though you’re technically doing it all, you might not be productive at all in doing so.
Reframe How You View Your Work
There are different ways you might be able to change your perspective as far as how you see your work.
For example, try to find value in it. Think about the things you really enjoy.
You might also find little ways in the workday that you can enjoy more, like making friends or treating yourself to an occasional nice lunch to break up your day.
If you’re someone who’s prone to burnout, that might mean you also have a personality that wants to be a high-achiever. You might feel better in general when you schedule things and compartmentalize your life, so why not do that with things you enjoy and your personal life?
For example, include time in your formal schedule to do things you enjoy every day and also to relax.
Take Care of Your Body
If you take care of your body, it’s going to help you feel less physically stressed and fatigued, and that can have benefits on your mental health. For example, commit to moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day, in addition to doing short bursts of activity every hour or so throughout the workday.
Eat healthy foods as well, such as fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables.
When you take care of your body, it helps you manage stress effectively.
As soon as you start noticing those potential signs of burnout, it’s best to proactively combat them and take steps to stop the problem before it gets larger.