Managing mid-year burnout

NMG Benefits
17 May 2023
7 min read

Let’s talk about why we feel utterly exhausted and we are only halfway through the year. Given the vicious onslaught of the past few years, most of us just got over the finish line of 2022, starting 2023 on a less than empty tank, frazzled, spent, and running on aged fumes. Then it began, the fastest catch-up storm we could have ever imagined, becoming exhausted by the continued barrage of extremes, not only from events at global levels, but the deep impacts of loadshedding and high inflation which are still being felt close to home. We have a belief that the faster we get through something and the busier we are, we can easily just ‘move on’. We push to return to ‘normal’, while no longer even knowing what that looks like. Placing our nervous system and mental health permanently in ‘fight or flight mode’, on constant alert and stand-by.

Before you start to question the complete burnt-out state you and your family are in, pause. Take a moment to breathe and be kind to yourself, take some steps to go slowly, and practice managing your mid-year burnout.

What is burn out?

Burnout is categorised as chronic physical and emotional exhaustion resulting from prolonged stress, often caused by excessive work demands or other sources of stress. Burnout manifests as fatigue, decreased productivity, detachment, and negative emotions, which affect both your work and personal life.

Signs indicating potential burnout

  • Physical and emotional fatigue and exhaustion on a regular basis.
  • Detachment from all aspects of your life and no longer appreciating things you used to enjoy.
  • Reduced productivity leads to a decline in performance, a lack of concentration, struggling to meet deadlines, a lack of motivation and procrastination.
  • Mood swings and irritability, feeling like you are overwhelmed and constantly on edge.
  • Physical symptoms include headaches, muscle soreness, gastrointestinal issues, and frequent illness. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system making you susceptible to infection.
  • Neglected self-care, including not prioritizing hobbies or a gym session, resulting in the prioritisation of work over personal needs which lead to feelings of guilt or resentment.
  • Negative effect on relationships, as burnout affects both personal and professional relationships. Often people become withdrawn, experience frequent interpersonal conflict with colleagues, friends, partners, and family members as individuals struggle to maintain healthy relationships.
  • Sleep disturbance and insomnia, where you have difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep or having restless and disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Decreased resilience where burnout reduces your ability to cope with stress.

Managing your burnout

  • Be Kind – By noting a few indicators of potential burnout, the first step is to breathe. Take a breath and re-assess. You are completely human. Show yourself kindness and care. You are only able to deliver in a given time frame till end of year.
  • Prioritise tasks – We’ve all been there, lost track of tasks, deadlines, and deliverables. Suddenly, we are hit with a tsunami of deadlines. Take steps to keep track of your work. A spreadsheet or to-do list assists to arrange your days around these outcomes with your meetings. Don’t forget to include your breaks and implement simple and easy to execute time management skills.
  • Take mind breaks – Breaks are important, not time to check phones or social media. It’s a brief 5 minutes to step away to get water, make coffee, or take a step outside. The importance of not shifting tasks is that you are able to continue where you left off as soon as you sit back down to continue your work.
  • Take physical breaks – Over and above your mind breaks, physical breaks are just as important. A physical break can include getting some exercise, stepping outside, going for a walk, or if you are fortunate enough, being able to take leave for a much-needed break over the festive season. Sitting for a whole day indoors can be a contributing factor to your mindset and burnout. The body was designed to be active, move and get outside to help improve your mood, your energy, sleep patterns and overall health.
  • Speak about burnout – When taking strain or feeling overwhelmed, we feel embarrassed about not being able to function at our peak levels of performance. We berate ourselves and engage in negative self-talk, compounding our feelings of worthlessness. Talk openly about what you are going through and consider getting in touch with your employee assistance program (EAP) services to receive telephonic counselling to manage and overcome your burnout.
  • Lifestyle change –Stress triggers both depression and anxiety, the ups and downs encouraging a shift toward using and needing a distraction or escape. Often these escapes are self-destructive behaviours. Make lifestyle changes to manage your stress, including getting enough sleep, following a healthy diet, exercising, taking breaks, and getting outdoors. Consider talking to someone and taking advantage of your EAP to put steps in place to manage your triggers.

To overcome burnout, it is important to prioritise self-care and make positive changes to your routine. Set boundaries, make lifestyle changes including practicing stress management techniques like meditation or exercise to create a healthier work-life balance.

T&Cs apply. NMG Consultants and Actuaries (Pty) LTD is an authorised financial services provider FSP 12968


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