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Explore tips from wellness professional, Amy Deacon, to help you understand symptoms of burnout and ways to cope

Between the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns, reduced social interactions, family priorities and possibly longer work hours, you may be experiencing symptoms of burnout. Signs of burnout can include depleted energy levels, exhaustion, feelings of negativity or cynicism, as well as reduced professional efficacy. If you are feeling any of these symptoms, it is essential that you pause and take some time to focus on your mental well-being to determine how you’re truly doing. From there, the question becomes, what can you do to manage burnout and get ahead of it in the future?

1. Take inventory of your mental health

To start, here are some questions you can ask yourself to gain an understanding of how you’re really doing, underneath the image you may be projecting to friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Mental check-ins are largely subjective, but no one knows you better than yourself, so honesty is key.

  • Do I get angry easily?
  • Do I wake up feeling energized for the day or is the snooze button my best friend?
  • Am I feeling withdrawn from things I would otherwise find enjoyment in?
  • What is my predominant mood throughout the day?

2. Prioritize rest

You’ve heard it before, but rest is so essential. Rest includes not only your sleep, but your time disconnected from work and screens. A few tips to keep yourself charged:

  • Use vacation time to create a long weekend or a half-day to truly disconnect and make time for yourself.
  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and avoid screens at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Do some gentle stretches or yoga (try the Doyouyoga app) along with meditation (try Headspace and the Calm app) to relax your mind and body.
  • Turn off social media every once in a while and feel some JOMO (Joy of Missing Out)!

3. Keep your energy levels flowing

With regards to your energy levels and self-care, schedule activities that refuel your bandwidth and start every day with something that strengthens your mental, emotional, and physical energy. A few things to remember:

  • Keep hydrated — before your first sip of coffee and start every day with a 500ml of water.
  • Try to be active for at least 30 minutes every day (e.g., walking, weights, cardio, even dancing — can be fun with a partner)
  • Download a pedometer onto your mobile phone or watch — FitBit and Garmin are great at reminding you to get up and move.

4. Ease your mind

Many people “push through” mentally, even when they are physically and emotionally depleted. People need to give themsevles permission to slow down and to say no. Here are some suggestions to help tackle the busy days:

  • Incorporate mindfulness meditations (can be as little as 5 minutes) throughout your day. Try guided meditation apps like Headspace to get yourself started.
  • Use reminder tools like the Pomodoro app to take a 5-minute breather after every 25 minutes of focused work.
  • Manage expectations at work by seeking clarity on priorities and try using a tool like Panda Planner to help you set smaller, more manageable tasks for yourself.

5. Reach out

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may still feel mentally sluggish and a wall you’ve been trying to break through is still not budging. It’s time to get incredibly intentional about taking care of yourself. You may need to enlist the help of a mental health specialist.

  • Consult with your General Practitioner for direction on finding a mental health specialist.
  • Connect directly with a therapist, psychologist, or psychotherapist for some professional counselling.

As many people feel mentally and emotionally exhausted, one thing you can do better is to start recognizing and embracing your own humanity. It’s important to take time to focus on your mental wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help — you’ll be doing yourself and your loved ones a favour.