Burnout: How to Avoid Mental Exhaustion at Work

Burnout - How to Avoid Mental Exhaustion at Work

The lack of knowledge about burnout and its symptoms is still a big problem. That’s why talking about the subject without taboos is so necessary. There are ways to prevent and treat burnout, and in this article, you can learn more about it!

What is burnout syndrome?

Burnout syndrome is a psychic disorder characterized by mental exhaustion and a state of tension and stress caused by exhausting working conditions.

What is the difference between stress and burnout?

Many people still confuse stress and burnout, so it is very important to understand the differences to know when it is necessary to seek help.

Stress is not a disease, but it can be a trigger. It is the way the body reacts to different situations that require great emotional effort. The problem originates when stressful situations are not overcome and become too frequent or prolonged. In these cases, it is possible to start having sequelae that can become diseases.

Stress can result from issues in different spheres of life, not limited to the professional sphere. When it is continuous, it can generate physical symptoms after a while, for example, allergies, skin diseases, reflux, intestinal diseases, autoimmune diseases, etc.

Burnout, in turn, is strictly related to the work environment and has three main characteristics that differentiate it from stress:

  • Exhaustion: Feeling that you are going beyond limits without physical or emotional resources to deal with situations;
  • Skepticism: Negative reaction to difficulties, lack of interest, and concern with work;
  • Ineffectiveness: The feeling of incompetence, unproductivity.

What are the symptoms of burnout?

The diagnosis is clinical and takes into account the survey of the patient’s history and their relationship with work. It is common for people not to seek help because they do not know or cannot identify the symptoms, after all, the vast majority believe that it is just passing fatigue.

To avoid this, it is very important for the individual to carefully observe how their professional life is impacting their health. One tip is to notice how your body reacts when you arrive and leave the workplace. Physical symptoms such as a headache and wheezing could be a signal that something is wrong. In addition, discouragement to complete tasks and lack of concentration are also signs that something is not going well.

The main symptoms of the disorder are related to physical and mental exhaustion. Daily, it can cause:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Isolation;
  • Absence from work;
  • Memory and concentration problems;
  • Irritability;
  • Very sudden changes in mood;
  • Pessimism;
  • Anxiety;
  • Low self-esteem.

In addition, there may be some physical symptoms associated with the disorder:

  • Headache;
  • Tiredness;
  • Insomnia;
  • Muscle aches;
  • Sweating;
  • Palpitation.

What are the main causes of mental exhaustion?

Remembering that burnout is a consequence of chronic stress and emotional tension, both generated in the work environment, whether due to physical, emotional, or psychological exhausting conditions.

Therefore, when we analyze its possible causes, it is necessary to look at the individual’s professional daily life and understand what may be causing the disorder. The main factors that usually contribute to the picture are:

  • Lots of overtime work

Professionals who work all night and have little time for leisure and rest can be greatly affected by mental exhaustion. The physical and emotional strain in these cases is very high and can result in burnout.

  • Excessive pressure

Some work environments make their employees feel extremely pressured in many ways. Of course, in some cases, it may be necessary to be more emphatic and firm, but this does not mean putting inhuman pressure on employees.

  • Unattainable goals

Unbeatable goals are also a daily problem for many professionals who suffer from burnout. Some companies just don’t have enough resources or knowledge to get where they want to go and try to extract a miracle from employees. All this makes the environment hostile and contributes to emotional exhaustion.

  • Lots of conflicts and competition

Too much conflict is also problematic. Just imagine working in a place where every day there is arguing and shouting. The lack of harmony builds a routine that is too tense and negative.

Competitiveness can also be very harmful, creating a cadre of employees who spend day and night seeing themselves as enemies rather than allies.

  • Inappropriate environment

Lack of ventilation, inadequate furniture, and problems with technological devices are also factors that contribute to stress. If not properly cared for, they can end up weighing on the burnout scale.

How to prevent mental exhaustion?

Burnout can be prevented through strategies that aim to reduce stress and pressure at work. Check out some of them:

  • Ensure leisure time with friends and family when you are not working;
  • Avoid being around negative people who speak ill of other employees and the company itself;
  • Do not consume alcohol or tobacco in excess, as they increase mental confusion and make everything look worse than it is;
  • Whenever possible, try to get out of the routine to do different things, rest your mind, and have moments of pleasure;
  • Do physical activities regularly;
  • Have a good sleep routine and sleep at least 8 hours a night;
  • Avoid working in places that have a culture that is very out of line with your values ​​and what is important to you;
  • Keep an eye on self- demand and try to slow down when you feel like you won’t be able to handle everything you need to do;
  • Create a dialogue channel with your bosses to try to talk about possible changes and improvements that would bring more well-being to the team;
  • Take breaks during working hours to oxygenate your brain and be more productive;
  • If you are a manager or CEO, learn to delegate functions to the right people to decentralize work and reduce the workload;
  • Do not give up your holidays, as they are essential to “recharge your batteries”;
  • Whenever possible, avoid reading emails and messages from work outside of office hours, including your lunch break and breaks.

How to Treat Burnout?

The good news is that burnout syndrome is treatable. By seeking help from specialized professionals, you will receive a diagnosis and can start taking care of your mental health with much more awareness.

There is no single treatment and a defined period, after all, each human being has its particularities, but, in general, what is usually done to treat mental exhaustion is:

1. Psychotherapy

The treatment must be accompanied by a psychologist who, throughout the therapy sessions, will help the patient to identify triggers and causes of the syndrome. In this way, you will be able to develop strategies to combat it and live much better, with more health and well-being.

2. Medication

In some cases, it may be necessary to consult a psychiatrist, a doctor who will be responsible for prescribing medication to complement the treatment. This does not mean that the person will take medication for the rest of his life and under no circumstances should the patient self-medicate and ignore professional guidance.

3. Physical Activities

In addition to psychotherapy and the possibility of medication, treatment usually includes the regular practice of physical activities, as this is a way to relieve daily stress and control the symptoms of burnout.

4. Meditation

Meditation is another activity that can be included in the routine and benefit the patient. The practice helps to reduce the stress hormone and helps to increase focus and attention in the present moment, that is, it reduces anxiety. To start feeling the benefits, however, you need to meditate regularly.

5. Moments of Leisure and Rest

Social interaction is essential to maintain mental health. We are social beings and we need to have moments with friends and family to abstract the mind, laugh, and share stories. Including these meetings in your routine is important to ensure that your life is not just focused on work.

Moments of rest in your own company are also very welcome: reading a book, walking the dog, playing an instrument, watching a series, cooking… Anything goes, the important thing is to feel rested and disconnected from work.

The Author

Oladotun Olayemi

Dotun is a content enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class content, including finance, travel, crypto, blockchain, market, and business to educate and inform readers.