Bhavash Padhiar shares his expertise on how to spot the signs of a ‘burnout’ and gives you tips on how to prevent it.
I was at a business conference recently and the guest speaker was none other than the BBC’s steely eyed dragon, Deborah Meaden. She was on stage giving her insights on what it takes to make a business successful and about her humble beginnings as a bingo caller at Butlin’s. What interested me the most about one of the UK’s leading business magnates is that she is a late riser, usually after 9am, and one of the first things she does after waking up is to walk around barefoot in her garden for a while regardless of the weather. I’ve not read that anywhere on the Instagram ‘top 10 habits of the Rich’.
I found this a little bit ‘cuckoo’ for a someone who owns multiple businesses of her own and has her fingers in the pies of well over 100 business investments from Dragons’ Den whilst finding time to be on a production set, a stint on Strictly Come Dancing, a fellow of the environmental WWF and a patron for the Tusk Trust. Don’t forget that she is married and has a busy family life to juggle, too.
For many of us, Deborah Meaden’s life sounds incredible but would be very overwhelming and very, very stressful. I often hear of the city traders who are completely depleted from the work pressure long before the age of 35. And rock stars turning to alcohol, drugs and a downward spiral that often leads to suicide or an accidental overdose. What’s Deborah’s secret? And why do so many people ‘burnout’?
Burnout is the final stages of chronic stress and Herbert Freudenberger defined it in his 1974 book “Burnout” as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”
What Are The Signs of ‘Burnout’?
The signs were there long before the sleepless nights and the 3am deafening thrum of your racing heart.
This is different to physical tiredness. Your usual quick witted comebacks and sparkling conversation is replaced with a “sorry, what did you say?”, a wandering mind and your creative genius has given way to fuzzy headed ideas that are lacklustre at best. Deadlines aren’t met and you’re not enjoying the projects that used to be your area of excellence, reduced to taking a back seat. You’re finding it increasingly difficult to make meaningful decisions at both work and at home. You choose the little wins completing small menial tasks to make yourself look and feel busy when you’re normally the one to take on the biggest projects first.
Anger and irritability
You’re finding yourself increasingly frustrated. Minor annoyances seem to infuriate you and you’re more than a little snappier than normal. The wrong milk in your coffee, no paper in the copier and worst of all everyone is talking about Georgina’s funny story regarding Saturday night. You used to be the funny one and now you hate Georgina. A few months back, she was your work bestie. You’re becoming quite cynical about your work and more critical of the performance of your colleagues. You feel numb and uninterested about your job and work.
Changes in habits and routines
Are you finding it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep until morning? Do you find yourself hungry at odd times of the day, even after a meal? Any unexplained stomach aches, headaches or bowel habits? Have you started using food, alcohol or even drugs to try and distract from how you feel inside? The symptoms can be subtle but manifest themselves in sense of denial.
How to Prevent and Treat Burnout
Burnout is not a medical condition but is sometimes classed as a form of depression. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms in yourself, friends, family and colleagues before it gets too late.
Control your finances
The rat race, the hamster wheel, keeping up with the Joneses, burning the candle at both ends and the fear of missing out. These are all phrases that have become normal in everyday life. There is an increasing pressure to conform and earn more money to buy the bigger house, new car and items you don’t really need. The new Hermes Birkin bag is not going to buy itself and the Secret Santa at work has an increased limit of £25. You feel pressured to earn more and more money when in reality, if you cut out much of your unnecessary expenses, suddenly cashflow improves. The cost of the daily artisan coffee and gourmet lunches add up. Are you really making full use the luxury gym membership? A pay as you go membership elsewhere will get you in shape just as well. Why not sell some of that unwanted clutter on internet auction sites or local community selling groups.
Escape and unplug
A holiday means just that. Take a break away from work and focus on precious family time with your loved ones. Switch off your phone and set emails to out of office. If you need to check in on work, set yourself a little allocated time to check messages and be strict on your time spent on this. Have you ever forgotten your phone at home and after the initial dread, you have had a nice relaxed day filled with conversation and laughter once you’d accepted that you can’t check your device every 5 minutes. You don’t need to take a full on holiday either. Deborah Meaden would book a few days away from work and head off to her Somerset home whenever she felt overwhelmed or stressed. For most of us, a long walk through Wimbledon Common with your phone, airplane mode on, will have a similar effect. A nice break in some fresh air to collect your thoughts. Schedule some free time in your day for exercise, meditation, leisure activities or a hobby. Find time to pursue your passions.
Changes that make a difference
If your current work situation makes you unhappy, change it. You may well be much happier in a ten hour a day job that you enjoy, rather than six hours in a workplace that’s breaking your soul. When you break it down, you probably spend more time at work than quality time with your family. I once read that life is too short to hate your job. You can do something about it.
Talk to someone
We are very lucky to live in a society that values a persons state of mind. Mental health issues no longer carry the stigma that they once did. Whatever you are going through just remember someone else has already been through it before. Talk to your closest loved ones. They will understand and the relief will be invaluable to you. Help is very easily available from your doctor or various organisations set up to guide you through stressful times. For financial worries and debt, speak to the Money Advice Service. For stress, talk to Mind.org.uk. If you’re feeling much worse, your doctor or the Samaritans is best to contact.
Written By: Bhavash Padhiar
A pharmacist with over two decades of clinical experience – ranging from working in hospitals and serious injury units to owning an NHS pharmacy – Wimblederm founder Bhavash Padhiar has expertise in medicine, clinical pharmacy and advanced medispa treatments.