Burnout Uncovered !

Avoiding burnout can be  difficult if you don’t know what signs to look and some of the signs overlap with other psychological experiences such as depression and anxiety.  Post Covid restrictions lifting  has resulted in hybrid working and it  harder than ever to separate our work and home lives, even with some normality returning, many are experiencing a period of huge adjustment both personally and professionally, which can  leads to feelings of burnout.

Burnout ( workplace stress)  keeps building for employees after a year of pandemic-related anxiety and isolation, heavier workloads and little to no time off. More than 4 in 10 employees (44%) say they are more burned out on the job today compared to a year ago, according to a new survey of 2,800 workers from global staffing firm Robert Half. That’s up from 34% in a similar 2020 poll. Nearly half of employees experiencing increased fatigue (49%) blame it on a heavier workload. Managers should be encouraging employees to have holidays and breaks to recharge their batteries and protect their mental health.

Burnout keeps building for employees after a year of pandemic-related anxiety and isolation, heavier workloads and little to no time off.

It can be difficult to recognise that you’re in the midst of this, until it’s too late and then it’s even more difficult to switch off from areas which are impacting upon you in this way. However there are some key behaviours and changes  to be aware of, which will help you to understand that you’re nearing breaking point.

I know It’s easier said than done to take some time for self-reflection, but once you do, you’ll find it much easier to shake off and recognise burnout in future.

Life might currently feel like one big monotonous cycle, there will be ups and downs but when the downs become more frequent, you need to tackle these issues head on.




How can you identify burnout?

Using a mindful, more self aware approach to what triggers feelings of burnout is the best starting point, you can then better understand what’s causing this or what the result of these feelings are.  Occupational Burnout has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) ICD-11  as a syndrome resulting from chronic work related stress that has not been successfully managed and includes the following symptoms:

1.Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion (resulting from excessive work demands and physical symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness, quick to anger)

2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your Leadership role

3. Reduced professional efficacy


Are you experiencing any of the below?

– Negativity about relationships

– Feeling negative towards work

– A lack of concentration, energy and motivation

– Feelings of isolation, loneliness or disconnection

– Struggling to sleep, exercising or eat a normal diet

– A decrease in your productivity or feeling unable to plan , execute and  deliver work tasks effectively

Allowing yourself to realise that these triggers or experiences could be the result of, or cause of burnout is the first step to rectifying and putting support in place to prevent this occurring in future.

What can you do to support yourself during bouts of burnout?

– Set boundaries and manage expectations

– Structure and routine

– Give yourself space and time to switch off

– Seek further support


Approaching each of these solutions might seem like stating the obvious, the truth is sometimes it’s the most obvious things that we do, or should do, that can help the most.

Whether you’ve returned to work, are working from home or perhaps finding yourself juggling too much ‘life admin’, it can be difficult to stick to a 9-5 routine. Where you can, start to set yourself blocks of time for work, life admin, family time, relaxation, exercise and sleep.

It’s inevitable that you’ll be interrupted but setting boundaries where for example you don’t check your emails between X and X because you’re focusing on something else, is perfectly acceptable. Don’t make yourself available to everyone, at all times. Even if it’s that between 8-9 your going to spend some time catching up on your favourite TV show or reading a book.

This will help to manage other’s expectations and allow you more time to unwind at the end of the day, rather than feeling switched on and unable to get through your own to do list.

Respect your own need to step away from situations, conversations or tasks where you’ve not prioritised that time.

Some useful areas to set boundaries include;

– Firm working hours

– Avoiding checking work related emails or systems outside of working hours

– Clear communication on availability with others to help manage expectations


Routine and Structure

Think back to the start of lockdown, your whole routine likely changed. Did you stop getting dressed properly, stop making yourself breakfast or having a shower etc?

Many of us stopped doing things that we’d usually do, whether related to work or personal life, from not taking a coffee break to not making a to do list to help us manage our duties.

Finding that balance has been difficult and it’s something we’re all still experiencing. This can lead to a lack of structure and a feeling of being out of control, panicking and feeling unprepared and overwhelmed. You’ll likely then overwork yourself to compensate for this feeling.

So, take a look at your existing routine and think about where you start to trail off, then put into practice some of the suggestions below to help you find a structure which helps you feel prepared and in control.

– Set your alarm and get up with enough time to prepare for the day, giving yourself a buffer from waking up, to getting ready and working

– Define a clear workspace, if you’re still at home then make sure you clear away your work at the end of each day to give you that sense of finishing for the day

– Go to bed, sleep is so important for your mind to process the events of the day so set yourself a bedtime routine and get those forty winks

– At the end of each day, think about what went really well and celebrate your wins, take time to focus on the positives

– Take regular breaks and as above, don’t make yourself available all the time

Seeking further support

I know it’s easier said than done to put these methods into practice, which is why I offer several different services which can help you further.

Hopefully, highlighting these points is the first step to allowing you to make these changes which equip you with strategies to recognise burnout and help you regain balance.

If you’ve addressed these points or are struggling with where to begin, then please reach out to talk and discover how we can  help you, with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Resilience building which reduces workplace stress.



Martina Witter

Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist