Burnout is usually associated with job commitments but can be caused by any aspect of life that is overwhelming or draining. everyone suffers from varying levels of stress at one time or another, when this stress evolves and becomes worse it is classified as burnout, this is a type of exhaustion that is caused by excessive emotional, physical and mental stress.
Although burnout may appear to be a typical part of life, it is advisable to take steps to reduce its impact for our own health and safety. Burnout tends to be more prominent in the winter due to a number of reasons, the weather and shorter days, the pressure of Christmas, January 1st deadlines and reflections of the last year/goal setting for the impending year.
Effects of burnout on the body
Although you may initially associate the effects of burnout as being mental, burnout can actually lead to physical consequences putting your own health and safety at risk. Below are a few key impacts on the body and mind of burnout.
Physical health – Burnout has been known to make individuals more vulnerable to illnesses and viruses. There has even been evidence to suggest that it can increase your risk of; type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and respiratory issues amongst others.
Mental health – Psychological effects of burnout on your mental health and safety can include insomnia, depression as well as increasing the chances of needed medication and hospitalisation for mental disorders and psychological illnesses.
Premature death – The long term effects of both psychological and physical effects on the body have been recorded to impact mortality rates. There has even been evidence to support an increased chance of death before the age of 45 years old from burnout.
3 tips to avoid winter burnout
We’ve already discussed how burnout can have a massive impact on both your mental and physical health and safety, so how can you avoid suffering from burnout and reduce your chances of the negative effects?
Use your vacation time
Some individuals hoard their vacation time or do not take it at all because they feel that they are too busy to take time off. Taking time off to recharge your batteries is actually more than likely going to result in an increase in productivity once you return to work. You don’t even need to take weeks off at a time to feel some of the benefits of a well deserved break, even a long weekend can really help you to avoid symptoms of burnout.
Reduce your screen time
Many people nowadays will spend their full working day staring at a computer or laptop screen, due to the boom in technology many of us also spend a lot of time outside of work staring at screens e.g. televisions, tablets, phones. Although we may be using this time for personal reasons, screens are still a stimulant to our brains and don’t allow us to fully relax. Instead, try an activity that does not involve a screen; reading, puzzles, going for walks or something creative like crochet can really help you to unwind.
Whilst feeling stressed and swamped at work it can be easy to forget to make time to look after yourself. A big change in Winter is the lack of sunshine, this reduces the amount of Vitamin D that our bodies absorb and increases the production of the hormone melatonin which actually makes us feel more tired. Ensuring you eat the right things can help to try to maintain Vitamin D levels helping to keep your energy levels higher. Foods high in Vitamin to incorporate into your diet include:
- Soy products
- Cereals and oats
Burnout can have serious impacts on your mental and physical health and safety, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms as well as preventative steps you can take. If you feel that your mental or physical health is suffering as a consequence of burnout, please speak to your GP.