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It’s that time of year where we’re all feeling a little exhausted and stressed. For some of us, this state of mental and physical exhaustion is in fact a burnout. Worse than typical fatigue, a burnout is a stress condition that results in severe physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, which leaves you feeling hopeless and unmotivated. 

The difference between stress and a burnout

It’s important to understand the difference between stress and burnout. Whilst they both share common side effects, stress is a feeling of emotional or mental tension, often caused by pressure at work or even at home. Whilst a burnout is a feeling of being mentally drained and uninterested, which can have a serious effect on your physical and mental health. 

Signs of a burnout

- Little to no motivation to work on tasks

- Feeling easily irritated, frustrated and overwhelmed 

- Lack of sleep - waking up tired, and feelings of heaviness

- Emotional fatigue and feeling pessimistic, cynical and drained

- Compassion fatigue both professionally and personally 

- Physical exhaustion such as headaches, stomach aches and weaker immune function

- Trouble concentrating or paying attention which then manifests into chronic stress

- Neglecting your needs and turning to unhealthy coping strategies 

How to combat a burnout

Disconnect - Take a break from work or whatever is causing you stress, whether it’s just for ten minutes, an hour at night or the whole weekend. This will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. 

Set boundaries and say no - This can be a challenge, particularly if you’re a people pleaser. In order to set boundaries, you need to assess your current commitments and work out what’s a high priority versus a low priority. If your plate is full, focus on the more important tasks and let others know that your less important tasks have a new deadline to give yourself more time. 

Take time off - Time away from work or whatever might be causing you stress helps you switch off and improve your work-life balance. Prioritising a long weekend or vacation does wonders for your mental health. 

Eat a balanced diet - Eating a healthy diet full of omega-3 fatty acids can give your mood a boost and act as a natural antidepressant.

Exercise regularly - We know we say this all the time, but working out is not only great for your physical health, it also gives your mood an instant boost and helps relieve stress. 

* The content provided in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice and consultation, including professional medical advice and consultation.