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Are You Stressed & Tired or Burnt-Out?

In this blog we explore how to tell the difference between being generally stressed and tired v.s being in a state of complete burnout - and what to do about it if you are.

Stressed and tired vs burnt-out


What do the WA premier, a top Australian sports coach and the NZ ex-Prime Minister have in common? They all cited burnout as a key reason for their recent resignations.

Anyone who experiences chronically stressful conditions is at risk of burnout. While high-stress, high-performance environments pose a greater risk, burnout can affect anyone.

Until now, top leaders have been unlikely to publicly state that they are standing down due to exhaustion and mental health reasons. However, with burnout on the rise and discussions around mental health being normalised, people are speaking out about their struggles and opening up the conversation about this stress epidemic.



THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRESS AND BURNOUT


Stress and burnout exist on a continuum. The main difference between the two is that stress is a response to a perceived threat, while burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. While small amounts of stress can be beneficial, chronic stress can lead to burnout.


Burnout can show up differently person to person, however there are three main tell-tale signs to look out for:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  2. Increased mental distance or cynicism related to your work

  3. A sense of ineffectiveness related to your work

Stress is a part of daily life and exists in all jobs, but if you're feeling completely exhausted, unable to concentrate, and can see that your own wellbeing is suffering, you may have reached burnout.


Once we notice we're feeling stressed, we can put time aside to rest and recover and generally bounce back after a short amount of time. With burnout, symptoms are more severe because stress has accumulated in the body over time. Recovery from burnout is not a quick-fix and can take quite a bit longer.

If you suspect you're experiencing burnout, it's important to seek professional advice. In the meantime, there are some simple actions you can take to improve your wellbeing NOW.



HOW TO CARE FOR YOURSELF IF YOU'VE HIT BURNOUT

If you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to take time out to rest and recover. Here’s a few things I suggest to my coaching clients:

  • Open up to your friends and family and let them know how they can support you.

  • If you can, press pause on work and other commitments and take a break. Speak to your boss or HR Manager and let them know what’s happening for you.

  • Prioritise rest and recovery and make this your only focus right now.

  • Spend as much time as you need sleeping, relaxing and calming your nervous system. Gentle movement like yoga and walking is great for burnout recovery.

  • Nourish your body with nutrient-dense, healing foods and plenty of water.

  • Be willing to feel your feelings. Journaling and meditation are great emotional outlets and can help you make space for your thoughts and feelings.

  • Reconnect with the things that bring you joy and make time daily for these.

  • Don’t rush your recovery. Go gently and take small steps, one at a time.




WHERE TO FIND SUPPORT FOR BURNOUT RECOVERY

I truly mean it when I say that finding the right support can be life-changing. Burnout can be a really tricky thing to navigate alone, and it’s not something you have to take on by yourself.


If you’re suffering from burnout, making decisions may be particularly challenging. Enlist the support of friends and family to help you find a professional who you connect with. Here are a few people who can help:


YOUR GP

See your doctor to get signed off from work. Your GP can also write you a Mental Health Care Plan if you would like a referral to see a psychologist (you can access 10 free sessions per calendar year under Medicare).


A THERAPIST

A qualified mental health professional like a psychologist or counsellor can give you practical, evidence-based strategies to improve your mental health and help guide you through burnout recovery.


A NATUROPATH

Hormone imbalance and nutrient-deficiencies play a big role in chronic stress and burnout. A qualified naturopath can test for these and help create a plan to get your health back on track.



On a personal note...

Looking back, one of the things that contributed to burnout for me was being too proud to admit it when I was struggling. I saw being independent and self-reliant as strengths, and was much more comfortable in the role of helping than I was being supported by others. This led to total exhaustion and full-blown burnout: toughing it out and going it alone had not benefited me at all. It was only when I acknowledged this and allowed others to step in and help that I was able to begin healing from years of stress and the toll of being “the strong one”.


Finding the right support was a game changer for me. I worked with a therapist who guided me to explore the beliefs, values and behaviours that had contributed to my burnout, and helped me see a new way forward. Having someone who understood what I was going through and offered judgement-free support was so powerful. Equipped with new tools (and a big dose of self-compassion!) I created a new mindset, new habits, and a completely new lifestyle - one that allowed me to step into a bolder and braver version of me, and never leave my health or happiness to chance again.


If you’re needing extra support and guidance from someone who really understands where you’re at and how to help you move forward, I’d love to hear from you. Click here to book a time to chat.


Take care,

Alexis


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Image by Jeremy Bishop
Burnout Coach Perth - Alexis.jpg

BLOG AUTHOR

Alexis Postans

WELLBEING CONSULTANT

Alexis Postans is a highly experienced therapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and the founder of Total Life Wellbeing. 

 

She is currently undertaking her third degree in Psychology and has worked in a variety of settings including mental health policy, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, youth residential care, child protection, youth justice, adventure therapy and delivering wellbeing programs in schools.

 

Alexis is a skilled and experienced group facilitator and is passionate about improving the wellbeing of individuals, workplaces and society.

 

Aside from study and business, she can be found playing with her two young kids or enjoying a glorious WA sunset over the beach!

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