Burnout - What to Understand Beyond Work And "Feeling Busy"

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Understanding burnout


By Nomali Cele

Self-care has, whether we like it or not, become something of a buzzword in recent years. The good thing that’s come out of that, however, is the fact that more people are thinking about and being more intentional with caring for themselves. But is it enough?

The fallacy that comes with discussions of burnout is that people tend to only ascribe it to “high achievers”, which is a term that generally denotes a certain class, level of education and careerism. But all kinds of people, including poor, working-class people can experience burnout.

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What is burnout

Burn out can be described as working long hours (whether at a job, at school or at home) without giving yourself time off or a chance to come up for air. It can be caused by several factors including perfectionism, which leads you to work until each task or project is perfect. Necessity can also lead to burn out; people who work more than one job or long hours, also experience burn out.

According to Psychology Today, Burnout is a state of chronic stress and depression that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Burnout isn’t just triggered by work. When you are doing a lot in all departments of your life, it’s bound to lead to exhaustion. You can be burnt out in your relationships and in your home life, as a result of how work is going.

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How to recognise burnout

The sad truth about burnout is that you will feel like the worst version of yourself. You will feel as if you are running on fumes – because you are! It may start as little as you constantly feeling irritable at work to serious signs of depression, anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion and very bad sleep patterns.

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How to treat burnout

The best treatment for burn out is doing less. It’s making the choice that you will say no to some things or if need be, most things. Start by halving what’s on your plate and adding nothing else until you feel balanced. You may even need to treat the symptoms brought on by being burnt out such as the depression, insomnia or regular illness. Stepping back and doing less when you work for yourself can be hard, but it’s important to put measures in place


Burnout can be dangerous and the fact of the matter is, no job is going to stop for you. Should the unthinkable happen to you, your employer will move along swiftly and hire your replacement because “the job needs to get done”. So why sacrifice your health for work? Why sacrifice other facets of your life?



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