Feeling Overwhelmed?

My Experience

Burnout is something that almost everyone experiences, sometimes people don't realise that they are going through it. I unknowingly experienced burnout around May/June 2021. At the time, I was incredibly confused, I had no idea what caused it to happen. In hindsight, 6 months later, I think of it as a combination of different things: adjusting to life after a 3-month lockdown, saying yes to too many things (Yes, I'm a people pleaser) and possibly overworking myself in the run-up to (pre-public) exam season. When I did eventually realise what was happening, I took a week off all responsibilities during the May half-term. This was the worst thing I could have done. It led to an increased amount of stress, and I fell quite ill at the end of June. Since then, I have consciously been trying to make little adaptions in daily tasks. I have realised that to combat this feeling, you need to incorporate strategies alongside your daily life and make time for what works for you. Just giving up is not the way to deal with experiences of burnout. It's about managing your stress levels, your productivity and planning your days better. It's inevitably the small things that add up to make the bigger things count. 

What is 'Burnout'?

 According to The World Health Organisation, Burnout is an 'occupational phenomenon' that involves 'workplace stress that has not been successfully managed'. Now you may be thinking that you are super organised and are on top of everything because you plan, organise, manage your time successfully, and meet deadlines, in which case this wouldn't affect you. Well, here's some advice. Read on. Particularly if you are THAT person, because once upon a time ago that would have been me!

After conducting meticulous research, I have gathered a few typical symptoms of the overwhelming syndrome of burnout. This list is not exhaustive and not all may apply, as I have included the ones I have specifically experienced. 

  • A general lack of energy or exhaustion
  • Constantly worrying about tasks you previously found exciting/manageable
  • Decreased sense of enjoyment
  • Reduced efficiency to get tasks done
  • Detachment from friends and family
  • Extreme loss of motivation
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Feeling helpless/trapped/defeated
'52% of all workers are feeling burned out, up +9% from a pre-COVID survey' - everyonesocial.com


Here are a few other things that helped me, including a few realisations!

  • Understanding that to be a good person, is not to be a people pleaser
  • Sometimes, it's okay to have a good old cry. Whack on your favourite sad tunes and belt it all out. Don't hold back. Just go for it. It will get easier. Trust me. 
  • Listen to podcasts - I highly recommend ControlAltDelete for experts advice on wellbeing in the world we live in as well as productivity tips, advice and general things you really need to hear!
  • Walking. That's it. Just walk. It does wonders. 
  • Being realistic in terms of goal setting and time planning. 
  • 'Desperate Housewives' for the escapism we all need!
  • Understanding that productivity RARELY means sitting in the same spot for 8 hours, tapping away at a laptop.
  • Know that time off is more VALUABLE. (obviously, this is in proportion. Don't take many days off, as I learnt from my mistakes)
  • Make time to do your favourite things/hobbies.
  • Find a new hobby! It was during this time that I resorted to running every time I felt overwhelmed and I still go for a run if things get a little too much. 
  • Read. Reading for at least 6 minutes has actually been proven to reduce stress levels by 68%! A quick (and you can make it productive) fix!

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Burnout is linked with 'perfectionism' - A psychological behaviour based on the desire for one to be perfect (which of course, is not true as we ALL make mistakes from time to time, it's part of being human!!) At Sixth-Form, a few weeks back, we (The Student Leadership Team) held an event that focused on helping other people our age combat the feeling of aim for perfection. It is suitable to note that there is no such thing as 'perfection' - it is a social ideal ingrained into us from a young age whether that be from families, peers or the media. Simply by trying a few techniques suggested it could make a difference in how you feel on a day-to-day basis, how well you cope under pressure and most importantly, how you treat yourself. 

Hopefully, this blog post has helped you gain an understanding of what Burnout is and a few strategies that may help you deal with the overwhelming pressure we seem to put on ourselves. There is a societal stigma on topics such as burnout and perfectionism, they are indeed sensitive issues, but through wider research, engagement with tips and strategies and having these (sometimes difficult) conversations, you can help people feel like they are not alone. 


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