Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion reached slowly over time as a result of prolonged, unrelenting stress. It can show up in any area of your life including work, parenting, university and close relationships. It’s most likely to occur when you’re exposed to a lot of demands over an extended period, especially if these demands regularly overwhelm your capacity to cope.
Sound familiar? Evidence suggests you’re not alone. Google search data highlights a gradual increase in the volume of searches for ‘signs of burnout’ over the last four years, culminating in a notable spike in January 2020. On average, total searches have increased by 41% annually since 2017 (Source).
We tend to experience stress when the demands in our lives are too great for us to cope with. If this situation persists, it can lead to burnout.
Burnout is super common among perfectionists because they’re constantly striving and often place excessive, unrealistic demands on themselves. Neglecting your mental health, abandoning your values to please others, and a lack of personal or professional boundaries can also create the kind of stress that eventually leads to burnout.
Stress shows up differently for all of us. Learning what it looks like for you can be really valuable. You might find it useful to think about your wellbeing using the idea of a ‘stress bucket’. Imagine there’s a bucket you always carry with you. Stressful situations like pressure at work, health worries or financial issues cause the bucket to fill with water. Things like lack of sleep, poor diet and too much time alone have the same effect.
In contrast, things like rest and relaxation, talking to someone and prioritising activities you enjoy will cause the water to slowly drain away. If you neglect the latter, there’s a chance your bucket will overflow and become too heavy to lift. When this happens, you’ve reached burnout. Even when you feel strong enough to carry a lot of water in your bucket, it’s still important to prioritise activities that help lighten the load.
As it’s been shown to reduce stress and burnout, mindfulness can definitely make your stress bucket easier to carry! Practiced regularly, it allows you to connect with yourself, helping you recognise and address your thoughts and feelings head-on. This enables you to spot signs of stress early so you can intervene before reaching the point of burnout. To be more specific, mindfulness helps you avoid and treat existing symptoms of burnout by:
I’m on a personal mission to make mindfulness as easy and accessible as possible because it’s one of the best ways to find balance and avoid burnout. Here are some useful links to explore: