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Signs you may be experiencing burnout and how to recover

Last week I had an extreme urge to rest, knowing that my routine is going to drastically change for the busier soon. So this week in the blog I really wanted to address how to recognise the signs of burnout and prevent the crash in energy that follows.

Due to my experience working shift work whilst studying at the same time I have come close to burnout many times. The signs I experience when I am over burdening myself and causing burnout include anxiety and irritability with those around me and close to me. Due to this it has become easier to recognise when I am over loading myself with work. Half way through my studies I made the difficult decision to drop two subjects and study at a much slower rate to the rest of my class. I had to recognise that I am an individual and what works for someone else may not work for me. I also dropped shift work and started working during normal hours by changing my job to work in a day clinic. This was a big step for me as I had worked in the same role for 8 years of my career. In my last year of university I scheduled regular holidays away every six months, even if it was only for a weekend, in order to recover from the stress of assignments and exams. This along with some well needed time off after graduation helped me to reset and recover from my studies and prevented burnout.

So what are some other signs you may be experiencing burnout?

Some signs of burnout include:

  • Being cynical or critical of others at work

  • Extreme fatigue, struggling to get started and dragging yourself to work

  • Impatient and irritable with colleagues, patients or customers

  • Poor energy and lack of productiveness

  • Brain fog or struggling to concentrate

  • Being unsatisfied with achievements

  • Feeling disillusioned about your work or job

  • Using drugs, alcohol, food (or anything really) to numb or feel better

  • A major change in sleeping habits (such as insomnia or sleeping too much)

  • Any unexplained symptoms such as headaches, back pain, stomach issues, etc.

Job burnout is increased with heavy workloads, working long hours and working in a helping profession. Other causes of burnout include:

  • Work-life imbalance - overwork or work taking up so much time there is little time to spend with friends and family

  • Extreme activity - requiring such a large amount of mental or physical energy to complete tasks that it exhausts your vitality

  • Lack of social support - in workplace and personal life

  • Dysfunctional workplace - bullying, micromanagement or being undermined at work

  • Unclear expectations - unknown expectations or amount of authority at work

  • Lack of control - being unable to affect schedule, workload or assignments or lack of resources to complete your work

If ignored burnout can lead to health conditions such as chronic fatigue, alcohol or drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure, type two diabetes, as well as insomnia, stress, fatigue and sadness.

Treating burnout requires you to take a close look at your life and your priorities. What can you do to take some of the load off yourself? What would a loving friend suggest?

My top tips for treating burnout include:

  • Address your work situation - discuss with your manager how to reduce some the workload affecting you (it doesn't have to be as drastic as changing careers), what is the most important to get done now? What can wait? Can you reduce your hours?

  • Ensure you have a good support system in place - reach out to family, friends and colleagues. Contact your employee assistance program.

  • Incorporate a relaxing routine into your day (or if strapped for time week) - this could be anything that relaxes you, meditation, tai chi, yoga, walking on the beach, having your favourite cup of tea, etc.

  • Make some time to exercise - this could be as above doing yoga, tai chi, or walking on the beach whatever you have the time and energy to commit. Exercising will help lower your stress levels and reset you for the week ahead.

  • Get a good nights sleep - be sure to get at least 8 hours sleep as this is when your vitality will be restored.

  • Practice mindfulness in the workplace - this can include noticing 5 things you see, hear, taste, smell and feel.

These practices help reset you to be able to meet the week ahead by lowering stress, increasing patience and taking the monkey mind off work. In addition, it is important to have regular breaks when you are at work and ensuring that break resets and revives you to continue on the day. Sitting out in the sun and in nature helps clear the mind and reset the energy for the day.

Finally, herbal medicine using adaptogens have been one of the best treatments I have used for burnout as I have literally seen someone two weeks later who has completely recovered their energy. Adaptogens help our body to recover from stress more easily and give us the psychological resilience to deal with that stress. These consist of herbs such as Withania, Astragalus or Siberian Ginseng. If you're interested in this or want more one on one help recovering from burnout I will be available for bookings in mid February.

Love and light to you all,


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