When Burnout Hits

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You’ve been working a 9 hour day then back home to more responsibilities, sometimes it’s easy to forget about yourself.

Speaking from my own experiences as a freelancer, it can be hard to know where work ends and home life begins.

I got diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue a few years back, which was the result of overdoing it in every aspect of my life at the time — eventually I just crashed.

I hit serious burnout.

This is something that recurs at times of stress and something I have to manage daily.

Sometimes you’re so focused on the outside stuff, you forget the inside — it’s so important to keep yourself in mind.

Here are some things I learned to keep myself well;

Your Workplace

According to the HSE, stress, depression and anxiety accounted for most of the work days lost due to ill health, 9.9 and 9.5 million days respectively
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Are you actually happy in your job?

We’ve all experienced not being happy in a job.

And we’ve all experienced the fear and trepidation of finding a new one.

If you’re unhappy, think about what you could do to make it better.

Could you stay in the situation if you changed some things? Is the situation so bad, would your life be better without it?

Big decisions, and questions I’ve asked myself a few times but, you only get one life, weigh up what’s more important to you and focus on that.

Is your workspace clutter free?

One thing that really helps me is having a damn good clear up.

Too much physical clutter, too many apps barking notifications, stuff I just don’t need. I feel so much relief when I get rid of shit.

Eat Well

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I am THE worst for sugar addiction.

I don’t drink or smoke but put a cake in front of me when I’m stressed and I turn into a woman possessed.

I have to watch for the signs when stress creeps up on me, and one of them is what I’m eating.

Everyone is different, so eat right for you — you know the drill — high energy snacks during the day, nutritious meals with a good amount of protein, keep high GI carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, white rice) to a minimum.

It doesn’t have to be a ‘new diet’, just include better things into your existing diet, I generally find that because those things make me feel better, I want to ditch some of the junk anyway.

You DO win friends with salad :)

Be Kind To Yourself

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Might sound like an obvious one.

But lots of people who get to the burn out stage are the kind of personality that pushes themselves too hard and they can’t hear the signs their body is giving them *points as self*.

I’m bad at this, my nature is to keep going until everything is done, which means I occasionally find myself in a heap on the floor. Listen to your body, it knows better than you.

Sleep as much as you need, laugh, sing, skate….do whatever you need to do to ease any life pressures.

Get Those Knees Up!

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There’s a 112% increased risk of getting diabetes if you sit down all day!

I game. I design. I sit down a lot.

If you sit (or stand) in the same position all day, not only is it affecting you physically, it’s affecting you mentally too.

The NHS suggests that if you sit down for long periods you have a 112% increased risk of getting diabetes and a 90% increased risk of dying from heart problems!

Exercising has a positive effect on mental health as well, so when I’ve recognised the signs I try to get outside, walk, cycle or run.

Exercise also helps to increase serotonin levels which offers up a decent night’s sleep— do you ever struggle to sleep after you’ve spent long periods sat down in front of a computer? More reasons to keep moving.

Take Time To Relax Daily

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I’m BAD at relaxing, I love being busy and proactive, I used to struggle to allow myself to relax, but now I’m coming around to the idea, it also doesn’t mean you have to go ‘full hippy’.

Everyone’s different, so whenever I feel like I need to cool down or get some inspiration I go outside and take myself away from the thing I was doing.

Another form of meditation for me is gaming, the video games I play with friends are real frustration-busters, even The Guardian newspaper is advocating this method for new mothers. Who knew.

Another way of bringing yourself back to the present is listening to something that relaxes you, I highly recommend Andrew Johnson’s relaxation apps, they’ve seen me through some really tough times.

Do what you feel is relaxing and if you don’t know what relaxes you, try new things; yoga, massage, music, gaming? Go at your own pace.

Talking it through

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Sometimes stress and anxiety is there because there might be unresolved stuff going on.

I bit the bullet back in my 20s and spent a lot of time with a therapist.

I never thought I could sit there and talk to a complete stranger about things deeply personal to me, and that it would even work.

It was the best thing I ever did and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone to just try out.

If you think you’re struggling with anything inside that could do with another ear, grab a good friend and talk it through with them or find yourself a good counsellor, I can’t rave about this enough.

I realised quite recently that life is way too short to work yourself into an early grave, work hard but be kind to yourself.

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Hello I’m Nik, I provide mindful brand + marketing design for creative and marketing businesses to increase engagement for your print and digital campaigns. See What I Can Do For You.