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How Not To Burn Out, 5 Signs You’re Headed Towards Simply Passing Stress

HEALTH- Burning out is much more than simply passing stress it marks an accumulation of tension, exertion, and hopelessness that can be hard to identify. Here are five notable signs of you heading toward burning out.

1. Rethink your screen time
Modern life is plagued by digital devices and screens, and it’s not unusual to be staring them in the face throughout the working day and beyond. But it’s crucial to stay on top of your screen usage where you can and be mindful of the pressures of the always-on digital life.

“Many of the telltale signs of regular burnout are similar to what some have dubbed ‘screen burnout’ – or ‘Zoom burnout’ during the pandemic,” says Becca Caddy, science reporter and author of Screen Time: How to make peace with your devices and find your equilibrium.

“While our devices can make us feel more connected to others, too much time on screens can be detrimental to our well-being. One big problem is that because our tech is always on there’s an expectation that we are, whether that’s catching up on Twitter news or replying to emails.”

Caddy recommends “only checking emails between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. or setting limits on your social media apps so you can’t access them after 8 p.m. That way time spent scrolling doesn’t impact your sleep.”

2. Focus on self-care
Self-care is a crucial practice, not just for addressing burnout but for preventing it in the first place.

Briley recommends that people “stick to or start self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet (to name just a few). Also, ensure you disconnect from work during your time off, meaning you fully engage in activities you enjoy, with people you love, and minimize the amount of time you vent your frustrations about work.”

3. Take a break
If there’s ever a time to take time off, it’s when burnout hits. Burnout is likely a sign of having too much on your plate. Seeking doctor-approved leave, alongside standard PTO from your employer, can be crucial to give yourself the time and headspace to work through what’s happening.

Briley also stresses the importance of getting away from your desk: “Spending time in nature, such as walking in a park or opening the windows to better hear and smell the rain, have been shown to reduce both acute and chronic stress.”

4. Talk with a mental health professional
If you find yourself having difficulties with burnout, it can be very hard to dig yourself out. It’s worth looking at which talk therapies are available to you, either through state-provided services or private therapists and clinics. But this can be in tandem with the other methods in this list, especially if you’re on a lengthy waiting list to access the therapy you need.

“The avenue for recovery for someone experiencing burnout will likely depend on the severity,” says O’Connor, from Headspace. “For some, adopting a meditation and mindfulness practice and setting more firm work-life boundaries may be sufficient. For others, seeing a behavioral health coach or therapist might be a necessary step so they have a day-to-day guide on the road to burnout recovery.”

5. Be open to change
An openness to change was a recurring theme among the experts we spoke with. It’s difficult to envision a different life, or a different relationship with work when your energy and motivation is at their lowest ebb.

But while an increase in self-care routines or mindfulness habits can be beneficial, it’s also important to look at bigger structural changes you can make in your life — whether that’s changing your job, reducing your hours, or negotiating a different set of responsibilities with your employer.

If the option is there, you can also look for other opportunities for employment. Working somewhere that constantly makes you feel burnt out may negatively affect your mental health in the long term, and you shouldn’t force yourself to stay if you have the ability to go elsewhere.

As O’Connor says, “The road to recovery not only requires support from our employers but often demands us to press reset on the relationship we have cultivated with work over the years.”

It’s not a simple task, O’Connor says, but “finding the courage to take on this challenge is an opportunity to establish new work-life balance boundaries and mindfulness practices that benefit your relationship with work for the future.”

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