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Recovery From Burnout And Depression

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Hear a pastor explain his burnout and depression recovery

Dr. Borland notes that job burnout is so common because we often have a difficult time saying no. We have a difficult time maintaining necessary boundaries, especially because technology plays a significant part in the work field today, he says. We are accessible 24 hours a day. And especially now with all the virtual platforms, it takes our ability to disconnect from work and makes it all the more difficult. I see people across all stages of their career who are saying, I need to do a better job finding this balance in order to preserve my physical and emotional health.Of course, job burnout can be complicated. You likely arent in a position to quit a job, so you have to make the best of things. If you have the opportunity to communicate with your boss, with their manager, with someone higher up in the organization, and explain to them some of the difficulties that youre dealing with, thats ideal, Dr. Borland says. Hopefully find some sort of schedule or some change in responsibilities change in daily routine that could help.

But not everyone has that opportunity, he adds. So you have to try and remember that your health and well-being matters. If things are really out of whack, I have to figure out how to do something for myself.

Types Of Burnout Recovery

Recovery is different for all of us because everybody has a different relationship with stress. You should use different recovery techniques depending on the situation.

Once youve identified a burnout stressor or trigger, you can start looking at the different recovery types and move forward.

Some people are very physically affected by burnout. Others will experience purely psychological or emotional symptoms.

Here are three common recovery types and what they can look like.

S To Dealing With Burnout

Davison says there are ways you can aid your own recovery, whether that ultimately means leaving a job or not. Here are some of those steps:

1. Acknowledge that it exists 2. Track stress levels 3. Identify the stressors and step away from these situations4. Seek professional help. This is a strength not a weakness5. Create a work life balance that includes time to have fun and rest6. Change jobs if it is really badly affecting your mental health7. Be kinder to yourself and keep a gratitude journal8. Own it and believe that you can change it9. Create a healthy sleep schedule and diet10. Set boundaries.

While these are ways as individuals that we can ameliorate our conditions, remember that setting personal boundaries may not change the demands of your job wholesale.

This requires a company-wide push, or if youve got enough seniority in your role, a persistence in demands to change the wider work culture. Work should be a complementary part of our lives, not the thing that makes it unliveable.

*Names have been changed and surnames omitted to offer anonymity.

Life-Work Balance questions the status quo of work culture, its mental and physical impacts, and radically reimagines how we can change it to work for us.

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What Is The Difference Between Burnout And Depression

While symptoms can overlap, the key difference noted by experts is how long symptoms last.

Burnout symptoms are usually temporary and disappear after you address them. If not addressed, these can also affect your physical health and cause heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and even type 2 diabetes.

Depression symptoms, on the other hand, can get in the way of your daily life and are longer-term. Depression is a diagnosable mental health condition that can cause other symptoms like feeling empty, having low self-esteem, and changes in appetite.

It is, however, important to note that burnout can lead to depression which is why if you have ongoing symptoms, you should seek professional help.

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Youre reading Life-Work Balance, a series aiming to redirect our total devotion to work into prioritising our personal lives.

Ive had splinters on my feet, Im physically exhausted, Ive had breakdowns. All the detox time in the world doesnt change how burned out I am.

This is the experience of Anthony*, a tech worker, 34, from London. After being asked to work weekends, weeks of late shifts, only then to be swapped onto earlies without warning, Anthonys job has left him totally drained. So much so hes quit his job without securing another. I just cant take anymore of this.

Anthony isnt alone in this state of mind. By the end of 2021, burnout was affecting more than 79% of UK workers, according to research by the HR tech company Ceridian, with 35% of people reporting high or extreme levels.

Nearly half of those surveyed in research cited an increased workload as a cause. The ongoing pandemic, post-Covid recovery, and the so-called Great Resignation, have left employers squeezing more out of their workers than ever before. And its causing a physical and mental health crisis.

Is there a chance of recovery? How long does it take to get over burnout?

Weve seen buzzwords like self-care, wellness weekends and digital detox become the norm, but they risk ignoring the broader picture that short stints of respite or relaxation dont counteract the strenuous, back-breaking and brain-fogging nature of work under capitalism.

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Dont Be Afraid To Ask For What You Need At Work

The biggest misconception about burnout is that its somehow your faultif youre burned out, its because youre weak and youre not able to do something you ought to be able to do, says Nagoski. The truth is that the world asks us to do an unbelievable amount of work. If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, its because life in the 21st century is overwhelming and exhausting.

Adds Davis: We have to stop looking at burnout as something individuals can or should be responsible for fixing. Yes, there are things we can do on a personal level, but thats a very small part of the equation. Its really a systematic issue that organizations and leaders need to address.

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Feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed? What about irritable or forgetful? Do you feel like youre the battery of an old smartphone that never really charges to 100% anymore, even overnight? If any of these seem uncomfortably familiar, you might be on the path to burnout. Been there, done that and there was definitely no T-shirt just a darkness that had become my new

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Examine Locus Of Control

If youre spending a lot of time ruminating over things over which you have little to no control, you may actually be causing yourself more stress, rather than alleviating it. For each worry or stressor, do a check-in to see if it is something that is actually within your control. If not, do your best to turn your focus to something else.

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“Essentially, burnout is chronic stress gone awry,” says Ziegler. When you experience a stressful event your body enters fight or flight mode, causing hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to spike. Typically, your body would return to normal once the situation was resolvedexcept that many of us ping-pong from one stressful event to the next. That creates a state of constant stress, which is linked to a variety of health concerns, from an increased risk of heart disease to a weakening of the immune system.

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But there are solutions: “Physical activity is one of the most efficient ways to end the stress cycle and help your body recover from it,” says Ziegler. Plus, you dont have to take an intense spin class or run a half-marathon to feel its effects. She adds, “Just taking a brisk, 20-minute walk outside has a truly dramatic impact on your health.” Not only will you get the mood-boosting benefits of exercise, but you’ll also get the benefits of being in naturewhich include decreased blood pressure, enhanced immune system functioning, increased self-esteem and cognition, and a boost in overall wellbeing.

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Pay Close Attention To The Stressors In Your Life

Burnout syndrome comes from a prolonged response to chronic stressors. The more stressors you deal with on a daily basis, the higher your risk of burnout.

As Emma Seppala, science director at the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education explains:

Biologically, we are not meant to be in that high-stress mode all the time. We got lost in this idea that the only way to be productive is to be on the go-go-go mode.

We like to call this the busyness paradox: We mistake being busyness with validation that were doing the right things. But its just as easy to be busy checking emails all day or running to meetings as spend time on meaningful work and seeing real progress.

When you feel yourself being pulled into that sense of busyness, take a step back and try to identify the root causes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Frequent scheduling conflicts or interruptions
  • Unpredictable schedules that dont allow you to plan for proper rest
  • Technostress
  • Scope creep on projects
  • Interpersonal demands such as dealing with difficult customers or coworkers

While each of these might just be part of your job they also might be leading to burnout. Pay close attention to which ones are impacting your emotional state and try to find solutions to mitigate them.

This transparency creates what author Brigid Schulte calls positive friction:

What Are The Stages Of Burnout Recovery

Burnout is characterised by physical and mental exhaustion and a general loss of enjoyment and zest for life. In addition, there are often symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, forgetfulness, dizziness, irritability and digestive complaints. Improving the balance in your brain plays an important role in your recovery, because burnout can damage the brain.

Recovery from burnout involves three distinct phases:

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The Point Of No Return

It took a long time for me to realise what I was experiencing was burnout.

I did feel tired, but I wasn’t overworked. I rarely arrived at the office before 8am, and I was home before 5pm nearly every day. I was working with a team of talented and motivated engineers and designers, solving what should have been fun and challenging problems. Weekends were spent relaxing with family.

I never had more work on my plate than I could handle. In fact, my workload and working conditions were what most people would consider ideal. The perfect job.

And therein lies the trap.

When you read about other people’s experience of burnout, they almost always talk about it being caused by the workload. Long hours, weekends spent at the office, unrealistic deadlines, imposing bosses. Stress and overwork on a daily basis.

When I thought about burnout, this is what I imagined, but my situation couldn’t be more different.

I wasn’t overworked, but I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t concentrate on my work â even simple tasks like responding to emails felt monumental. I was only able to work at a mere fraction of what I knew I was capable of. Things that used to be easy were almost impossible. I was plagued with insomnia and found myself forgetting meals. My creativity had vanished – I could barely even respond to emails, let alone design a product.

Look At Your Options Objectively

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Various factors contribute to burnout. Therefore you must look at your life objectively.

For example, employees working around the clock may find it helpful to speak with their manager and discuss viable options to minimise workload.

If ongoing relationship problems cause burnout, it may be time for you and your partner to consider couples counselling.

Engaging in this form of therapy may help you uncover the root cause of your conflict and identify ways to move forward.

In some cases, a person may need to decide whether a job or relationship can be salvaged or not.

The above may seem impossible, but you may find an entirely new path by exploring your options.

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Take Time To Actively Reflect On Your Efforts And Accomplishments

In the go-go-go of today’s lifestyle, it’s easy to tackle one project and leap to the next without taking a breath to acknowledge your victories. But if you view success as getting all the work done in an environment that has never-ending work, you’re bound to hit burnout sooner or later.

That’s why it’s crucial to acknowledge both your accomplishments and your efforts. You don’t have to tally up everything you do . But taking the time to actively reflect can remind you of the value of what you do.

Here are two low-effort, high-impact ways to reflect on your progress:

  • Spend 5-10 minutes at the end of each work day jotting down what you learned, noticed, and achieved. You can do this in a designated journal or app, or even type it onto the “notes” section for each calendar day in your iCal or Google calendar. You can even do this during the day, as there are many subtle, office-friendly ways to destress.
  • Memorize these mindful questions for a daily reflection meditation. Studies have shown mindfulness is a powerful deterrent against burnout . Taking just 5 minutes to reflect mindfully grants yourself space to acknowledge your achievements and assess struggles without judgement. Try some version of the following questions: Where did I find joy today? Did anything cause me inner stress or conflict? What did I learn today? You can ask yourself these anywhere, like on your commute home, while eating dinner, or doing the dishes.

What To Look Out For

One common burnout symptom is insomnia, Dr. Dyrbye said. When researchers in Italy surveyed frontline health care workers with burnout during the first peak of the pandemic, they found that 55 percent reported having difficulty falling asleep, while nearly 40 percent had nightmares.

Research suggests that chronic stress interferes with the complicated neurological and hormonal system that regulates sleep. Its a vicious cycle, because not sleeping throws this system even more out of whack. If youve noticed youre unable to sleep at night, that could be a sign that youre experiencing burnout, Dr. Dyrbye said and your sleeplessness could exacerbate the problem.

Physical exhaustion is another common sign. Dr. Gold said that one of her key symptoms of burnout was fatigue. I realized I was sleeping every day after work and I was like, What is wrong with me? but it was actually burnout, she said.

Headaches and stomachaches can also be incited by burnout, Dr. Gold said. One study of people in Sweden suffering from exhaustion disorder a medical condition similar to burnout found that 67 percent reported experiencing nausea, gas or indigestion, and that 65 percent had headaches. Its also important to note that burnout can develop alongside depression or anxiety, both of which can cause physical symptoms. Depression can cause muscle aches, stomachaches, sleep issues and appetite changes. Anxiety is linked to headaches, nausea and shortness of breath.

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Put Your Smartphone Away

Derks and Bakker found that burnout recovery was hampered by workhome interference, which is when our home and work needs conflict. The researchers argued that smartphone use after hours put people at risk of workhome interference, specifically:

  • Receiving text messages about work after work hours
  • Actively checking work email after work hours

Derks and Bakker divided their research participants into two groups: those who used their work smartphone after hours and those who did not. Participants who used their work phone after hours were more likely to experience workhome interference and struggle with burnout recovery.

If these participants could disengage from their work and not use their work phones, then they were able to relax.

If you were wondering, avoid syncing your smartwatch with your work email it will have the same deleterious effects.

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Burnout is something that can happen to anyone. The symptoms are very diverse and so is the duration of your recovery. Fortunately, you yourself can influence the course of a burnout and how long it takes to recover from it. In this article, we give tips on the different stages of a full recovery and explain what you can do if you relapse.

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What Does Autistic Burnout Look Or Feel Like

Everyone experiences autistic burnout differently, but one sign certainly stands out above the others: sheer exhaustion.

Autistic burnout can feel like all the energy is just gone, says Sharon OConnor, a licensed clinical social worker and autistic psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety and neurodiversity in New York City.

When were in a burnout, even normal everyday tasks can feel difficult or insurmountable, she says.

Take An Actual Break To Reset Your Nervous System

There are likely a handful of things in your life that youve been engaging in that have been draining your metaphorical batteries for a while now. In order to earn your way back to a clean bill of health, you must begin by taking a proper break from the things that have been exhausting you.

Take a two week break from work. Start saying no to social events that drain you. Pass off your least favourite responsibilities to someone else for a while.

Yes, people will be disappointed with you. But your health comes first. Full stop.

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