Avoiding burnout when you’re busy all the time

When busy becomes frantic and there’s no end in sight, you might be en route to burnout. Don’t wait until you’re super-stressed or sick, you need to take action to stop burnout from taking over. Read on for how to handle this common problem.

Life is pretty busy for most people, and it can be fun if you’re fitting in lots of things you enjoy. But when it just feels relentless, burnout can be on the way. We all have periods of time when things are frantic, but it’s not sustainable for months on end.

If you feel like you don’t have time to even think and you can’t cope with one more thing, it’s even more important to stop and assess the situation. Burnout won’t fix itself and it’s likely to lead to health problems and work issues if it’s ignored.

What is burnout?

Burnout creeps up on people over months or years as a busy schedule has more and more tasks added, leaving no time for relaxation. Your work might have gradually ramped up or your home life may have changed with additional responsibilities, or both.

You might feel constantly frantic at work, needing to work longer and longer hours yet feeling you’re getting further behind. An addition to the family or new care giving responsibilities can add stresses to daily life. If you’re commuting further or studying for better credentials, your relaxation time can all but disappear.

When being busy is no longer energising, but exhausting, take notice. If you’re not feeling engaged with work or excited about new challenges, watch out. These are the road signs to burnout.

First aid for burnout

It’s possible to juggle things for quite awhile, but sooner or later the stress begins to show. If you’re having health issues such as high blood pressure or becoming depressed, teary, short-tempered or having difficulty sleeping, it’s time to take things seriously.  

See your doctor for a full checkup to sort out any physical health issues. You might also need a mental health plan to get things back on track. Your employer may offer a free and confidential counselling service so make sure you find out the options available to you. Have any pre-existing health issues checked first, then you can look at the whole picture.

Back to basics

Everybody needs regular exercise, decent sleep, healthy meals and relaxation time to support your well being. It’s hard to get these back on track if you’ve been neglecting them because you’re frantic, but they’re non-negotiable for a healthy lifestyle.  

Stress and having a crazy schedule often interrupts your sleep routine, but enough sleep each night is vital for health and safety. Don’t eat late, skip caffeine after lunch and cut out screen time for an hour before bed. Plan a reasonable sleep schedule and keep to it on weekends, too.

Regular exercise can be tricky to fit in but it will reduce stress and help you sleep. If it’s done first thing in the morning, whether it’s running, going to the gym or using a treadmill at home, you’re off to a good start.

Simple healthy meals can be made in the same time that it takes to order and wait for your food delivery. Buy groceries online or even ready-to-cook meals delivered in a box. Self-care makes you feel better than any junk food.

Something’s got to give

Whether it’s your work schedule or your home life, or both keeping you frantic, you need to figure out what you can give up right now so you have time to sort things out. If you have a partner, talk with them about sharing tasks, or outsourcing them. If you have obligations with family or friends which have grown unsustainably, can you talk with them about your needs? Can you compromise on what you’re doing or find other help?

If your work is overwhelming, talk with your manager so they understand the issues. If your responsibilities have radically increased, can you delegate or get assistance? Are you taking available leave so you can relax and feel refreshed? Can you work towards more manageable hours? Don’t let issues build until it’s a meltdown situation.

Staying on track

Once the crisis is past, be careful you don’t get back into bad habits. Staying healthy is important for you and your family, and nobody does their best work when they’re unwell. Some counselling might help you identify strategies to avoid burnout symptoms again. Creating balance in your life means allocating time so that you can stay healthy and have some outside interests, not just obligations. It’s not easy to get work-life balance right all the time, but you can gradually build important changes into your lifestyle.

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