burnout: how to prevent it (10 tips) 

Studies have shown that burnout is on the rise, with more than half of accountants admitting to feeling the impact of it. However, taking the time to include more self-care measures into our everyday routines is key to helping prevent it.

Stress is a normal part of life, but when it gets overwhelming, it can seriously affect our emotional and physical wellbeing. Left untreated, the constant feeling of overwhelm can create exhaustion, resulting in burnout. 

In our last article, we explored some of the common signs of burnout that range from brain fog and joint pain to anxiety, struggling to switch off and low motivation levels.  

The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help manage your day-to-day life more effectively - and reduce your stress levels at the same time: 

how to combat burnout the signs of burnout

The second you start to feel more stressed than usual, take a minute to reflect on if it’s because you’re just having an off day or it’s being caused by burnout. Recognising the tell-tale signs early on and immediately implementing self care to prevent burnout is central to helping stop it from spiralling out of control. 

“This manager seemed to be determined to criticise me and my work. Over the next 14 months I went from a confident, hard-working, able person to a terrified wreck. It felt like any tiny flaw was exploited to humiliate me. I felt hopeless. One day driving to work, I found myself hoping to have a car accident, so I didn't have to face my situation at work. It was at that point I thought, this has to stop. You don't realise when you're in it that something terrible is happening to you.”

Polly

caba client

10 tips for dealing with burnout 

tip 1: ask for help  

It can be hard to admit when we’re struggling, but some things we can’t do alone. 

If it’s work that is the source of your stress, talk to your colleagues or manager to see if there’s something they can do to relieve some of the pressure by reducing your workload, or changing working hours.  

For more on navigating work burnout, hear our mental expert’s advice.

tip 2: talk to a friend  

As the saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and telling a friend how you’re feeling can potentially help you more than you realise. 

Sometimes, knowing that you’re not alone, and that your friend/family member/colleague is there for you, is enough to relieve you of some of the stress you are feeling. We know it can be difficult to open up about your feelings but just try and be honest and they’ll understand.

tip 3: get more sleep (if you need it)  

If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough sleep, turn off your alarm and see what time you wake up naturally. This will give you an indication of how much sleep your body needs every night. 

If you do need some more sleep, adjusting your sleeping pattern, i.e., going to bed earlier so you sleep for the recommended seven to nine hours, will make it easier for you to wake up in the mornings. And if you’re struggling to fall asleep, techniques such as Sleepstation or guided meditation can help.

tip 4: eat a healthy, balanced diet  

It’s easy to reach for a ready meal when we’re mentally drained, but sticking to our healthy habits of eating more fruit and vegetables will improve your mental and physical health. 

Try this: Start the day with a couple of portions of fruit or veg and cook and freeze meals in bulk for when you’re short on time and/or energy.  

tip 5: take part in exercise  

Aerobic exercise has been proven by researchers to help with mental exhaustion. According to a study published last year, just one bout of acute aerobic exercise can help people achieve cognitive regeneration, as well as positively impact their wellbeing. 

Meanwhile, more gentle forms of exercise, such as Pilates and yoga, has been linked to helping improve people’s mental state due to their ability to stimulate the production of mood-enhancing endorphins.  

tip 6: slow down  

One of the main reasons we get burned out is because we’re doing too much at once, all day, every day. But it really is ok to slow down for a little bit. For example, by reducing your workload, cutting back on commitments and fitting more ‘me’ time into your daily or weekly schedule. 

tip 7: make time to meditate  

Meditation is capable of slowing our brains down by forcing us to concentrate on the moment. According to a study that explored the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress and burnout in nurses, mindfulness meditation is effective at significantly decreasing stress and improving all aspects of burnout.

Here's a quick 1-minute mindfulness exercise, try use it anytime throughout your day when you need a bit of clarity and calm. 

tip 8: focus on the here and now  

Where possible, do something you enjoy that will take your mind off work. This could be cooking, playing with a pet, reading a book, whatever works for you. The important thing is that you disconnect and focus on being in the moment and blocking out any work-related worries. 

Tip 9: take it one task at a time  

Multitasking isn’t the best way to achieve anything, even if you have several tasks that all need your focus and attention. It can lead to a decreased focus and lower quality work. And mean your tasks take you longer to complete.  

Instead, decide on the best order to complete tasks which fall into the same priority category. 

Tip 10: take a break 

It’s possible to feel more stressed out and overwhelmed emotionally about life and work when you haven’t had a break for a while. 

Having time off work enables us to relax and switch off and recharge our batteries so we do feel more in control in relation to work and life overall. Where possible, plan your annual leave so it’s evenly spaced out over the year and you don’t have to go too long without enjoying some quality downtime. 

how caba can support you 

Maintaining your day-to-day healthy habits can only go so far in preventing you from burning out. For more in depth advice on tackling burnout, sign up to our free managing burnout course:

Our free Managing Burnout course will provide you with practical guidance on the best way to manage your mental health and burnout. 

click here to join

 

In the meantime, for more practical advice on tackling burnout, read this article, ‘Burnout at work: Advice from our mental health expert.’

further reading 

burnout at work mental health expert.png

burnout at work: advice from a mental health expert

Read more from our mental health expert, Kirsty Lilley, as she shares her thoughts and advice on how chartered accountants and ICAEW members can prevent and address burnout at work.

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improving sleep quality

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why self-compassion boosts our mental wellbeing

Self-compassion is key to developing good mental health. It's not about being over-indulgent or too easy on ourselves; there are key steps we can take to look after ourselves more.

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Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
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*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

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caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

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