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