burnout: how to prevent it

Our research shows that burnout is on the rise, with over 50% of accountants admitting that they suffer from stress and burnout. Taking the time to implement more self-care measures into our everyday routines is pivotal to helping prevent it.

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

With burnout at work on the rise, a survey by Indeed revealed that more than half of workforces are feeling burnt out, we’re turning our attention to self care to prevent burnout. Keep reading for practical guidance on coping with burnout at work.

how to combat burnout at work

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. 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."


caba client

10 tips for dealing with burnout at work

tip 1: speak to your manager

Talk to your manager to see if there’s something they can do to relieve some of the pressure.

For instance, they may be able to reduce your workload, help with challenging colleagues, allow you to change your working hours or help in other practical ways.

tip 2: contact your GP

Not everybody realises this, but burnout is something you can speak to your GP about. They will be able to discuss a variety of treatments with you, such as counselling and medication. 

If you have underlying or undiagnosed health conditions, they may also be able to refer you to a specialist for tailored advice.

tip 3: 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.

tip 4: 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 5: eat a healthy, balanced diet  

It’s easy to reach for a ready meal when we’re mentally drained, but 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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.

Tip 9: 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 10: take your annual leave

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 

If you need help because you’re feeling burnt out, contact one of our registered counsellors online or over the phone for confidential emotional support.

find out about our emotional support

There are everyday and exceptional things that affect us all at some point in our lives. We're here for you. We can arrange for you to receive counselling sessions to help you work through any difficulties you're facing. Our support is free, impartial and confidential.

talk to us


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

Sleep struggles can cause lasting effects on your mental health. Our expert guidance can help you improve your understanding.

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Woman in bath on phone looking happy

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.

View more

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  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 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

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

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

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

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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