World Mental Health Day: How to deal with work burnout

by | Oct 10, 2022

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“Quiet quitting” may have been a trend that took over TikTok over the summer months, but despite the idea that you can free yourself of much of work’s stresses by simply not working extra hours or taking on additional jobs, work stress and burnout is still on the rise.

Today, we’re celebrating World Mental Health Day here on IFA Magazine, sharing the views and opinions on this crucial subject from a range of professionals and experts both within financial services and more broadly.  

In fact, according to a recent survey, 88% of UK employees have experienced at least some level of burnout over the last two years.

Connor Campbell, business expert at NerdWallet, says, “The whole idea of “quiet quitting” came from exhaustion, which fosters a sense of disengagement. Increased demands on employees, sometimes as a result of hybrid or remote working, combined with external factors, such as the cost-of-living crisis, can result in individuals feeling detached and distant from work. This can manifest itself in a number of ways, but burnout is one of the most common.

“It’s important that employees and employers are aware of the signs of burnout, and understand how to handle it before it becomes a serious problem.”

Some of the key indicators of burnout include mental and physical exhaustion, which are made worse by repeated pressures and stresses; feeling drained; not being able to turn off your brain; and worrying about things out of your control. Not only can this be detrimental to your work and output, but it can also impact your mental health significantly.

To help deal with this issue, Connor has put together some tips which will help you overcome burnout and get you back on track.

Accept and acknowledge the problem

The first step is to realise what’s happening, accept that you’re struggling, and take immediate action. This could look like a number of things, such as not beating yourself up if you make a mistake, allowing yourself to ask for help, and taking a break.

Talk to someone

Once you’ve accepted that you’re struggling, the next step is to discuss how you’re feeling with someone at work who can help. This could be your manager, a senior colleague, or HR.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or via a video call, but before you have a meeting, it can be helpful to jot down the key points, from how you’re feeling and what you need help with, to how they can assist you specifically. This can ensure you don’t miss anything, while also providing a structure to the meeting so it ends with a plan in place.

Take some time off

A break and rest from the pressures of work can help in a myriad of ways; from allowing you to recharge, to putting things into perspective, and even giving you time to focus on your priorities.

If you have some annual leave to use, give yourself a long weekend and get away – even for the day – if you can.  If you don’t have any days left to use, after speaking to your company, they may agree to give you a couple of days off to give you some space.

Get to know your limits

Taking on more than you can handle could be the reason you got burnt out in the first place, so make a note to check in with yourself a couple of times a week and ask yourself whether you’re taking on too much, or whether you feel comfortable and have space for more work. Blocking out time in your calendar  can help with this, as you’ll be able to see how your days and weeks are broken down. It’s also important to pencil in regular breaks.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’

We all want to do our best and help our colleagues out, but we shouldn’t be doing this to the detriment of our own health. If you can help people out, without it causing you stress and anxiety, then do so. But if saying ‘yes’ means you’ll be struggling, then explain this to the person asking.

If this is your manager, it’s important to ensure they know what else you are working on and as such, what they would like you to prioritise and what can wait.

Be mindful of your habits

If you’re used to working extra hours, taking on lots of projects, and generally being stressed, it can be far too easy to slip back into that cycle. But in order to ensure you don’t, there are steps you can take:

  • Don’t make a habit of working overtime. Sometimes we may need to do extra hours to hit a deadline, but this should be an exception and not a rule. Should you find yourself doing this regularly, it’s time to take a step back.

  • Don’t agree to every commitment. If you don’t think you can take on a project or meet a deadline, say so there and then. It’s much easier to discuss this while discussing the topic than bringing it up later down the line, and close to a due date.

  • Learn how to delegate. If you manage staff, they’re there to help your team achieve its goals. If you feel they have capacity, delegate work to them. Not only can this help you, but it can also be good for their development, by exposing them to new platforms and ways of working.

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