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Image / Editorial

‘Powering through’ makes burnout worse


by Sinead Brady
02nd May 2018
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Burnout out is a feeling of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion due to work. It leaves you exhausted, overwhelmed and cynical. You can’t concentrate and your capacity to perform is compromised. Professional challenges that once excited you now fill you with anxiety. Your workload feels insurmountable and your personal life feels out of control. This is the scary thing – it’s unlikely you will recognise the telltale signs until you are about to crash.

What is burnout?

Workplace burnout happens when the demands of your job outstrip the resources you have to meet those demands. The American Psychological Association describe it as ‘an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance’. These, the telltale signs of burnout are signs you should never ignore. Research tells us that ignoring the signs, and making the decision to ‘power through’, makes burnout worse, not better.

Bounce back

As burnout doesn’t happen overnight you cannot expect it to go away overnight. A physical, emotional and psychological state of resource depletion, the only way to overcome it is to admit how you feel and then proactively commit to small positive changes that refuel and rebuild you.

As you start this journey you will find every single excuse known to humankind to keep going, despite deep down knowing that you need to STOP. Now is your time to be brave and give yourself permission to look after yourself.

Time off

The hardest thing to do when you feel overworked and under pressure is to take time off, but if you are suffering from burnout you must. Getting the time off might involve speaking to your GP, taking unpaid leave or using your holiday allowance. Whatever it looks like for you, and no matter how hard it feels, STOP and take the time off to recover and recuperate.

Start to build a routine based on nutritious food, quality sleep, fresh air, exercise and time with people that are good for you. These things become your non-negotiables and help you cultivate a rich non-work life. This is challenging, so start small and build it one step at a time.

At first it feels overwhelming to fit these ‘extras’ into an already packed schedule, but if you think a little differently about it you will be surprised at what is possible.

If you struggle to get to the gym, try an online personal trainer. Train with Jenny is a brilliant Irish online personal trainer who fits into your schedule. If dance is your thing, try Zumba with the Revolution Project.  Or check out Get Ireland Walking to find your local (and free) walking group.

Educate yourself about food by going to a workshop by a nutritional expert who offers practical advice for the real world. Try Rachel Graham or Fiona’s Food for Life.

To get better sleep take your phone out of your room. Using it for an alarm is no excuse. Instead get an old-fashioned alarm clock. A brilliant alternative is a lightbox alarm clock. This is brilliant as not alone does it gently wake you by increasing the amount of light in your room, it’s clinically proven to help lift mood, boost concentration and restore natural energy.

Before you go to bed at night listen to this song which neuroscientists from Mindlab UK developed with sound therapists to induce a highly relaxed state. Research has since shown that listening to it can reduce anxiety by 65% while it also slows your heart rate and lowers stress. It is the perfect replacement for social scrolling before bed.

It’s not necessary, but if you are in a position to take a weekend out to kick start your reboot, try a retreat that focuses on helping you do just that. There are loads all around Ireland including Delphi, Pure Results Bootcamp, Monart or the Reset Me Retreats.

The bottom line is that professional burnout hurts you not just professionally, but also personally.

By taking the time to put strategies in place one small step at a time you give yourself the ‘fuel’ you need to bounce back from burnout, or better still, prevent it.

Occasionally in our careers it’s necessary to take a step back, reevaluate and rejuvenate. We’re no good to anyone, neither our family or employer, when we’re exhausted or emotionally drained. Looking after yourself will give you the energy and confidence to design a career that you love.


While we have you, have you listened to our latest podcast The Spill?
This week’s episode kicks off with an examination of Janelle Monaé’s PYNK, which features her and her fellow dancers in opulent pink vagina trousers. Sophie and Rhona go on to discuss if people are treated differently because of their level of beauty and finish by helping a reader who can’t stop fantasising about women

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