Nimi Jayachandran reveals the harsh realities of dealing with stress and breaks down the methods to deal with it and avoid burnouts
The world we live in today has evolved into such a fast-paced and demanding one. From a really young age, we are exposed to high levels of competition; such a demanding lifestyle has shown an increase in the levels of stress experienced by an average person. It has been scientifically proven that more and more people are pushing themselves to work themselves to the point of mental exhaustion. After a point, this fatigue becomes too much to handle and they find themselves unable to perform any more tasks. This exposure to chronic stress has been termed ‘burnout’. Burnout has been recognized by psychologists as an effect of chronic occupational stress, long term exhaustion and diminished interest in work.
“There has been an increase in the number of people looking for professional help for the problem of stress in the past few years. Overly-demanding jobs have caused people to take on increased workload upon themselves with less job satisfaction. This is leading to them burning out quickly,” says Dr Bamathy, Medical Officer at Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai. Burnout is becoming more commonplace in the modern workplace. Hostile work environments, whether psychological or physical, are taking their toll on employees very evidently.
Another group of individuals equally affected by burnout are college students. According to a study done by Professor Richard West at the University of South Maine, the US, around 70% of college students experience stress and burnout during their course time. The combined effect of workload, pressure and expectations have resulted in more students pushing themselves to the limit and ultimately finding themselves burned out from the heavy load.
Signs That You Might Be Facing Burnout
As obvious as it may seem, people have grown so accustomed to dealing with an increased level of stress, that they do not recognize when they may be too stressed and heading down a road to burnout. Here are some classic signs of burnout:
People report feeling both mentally and physically exhausted. Often times there is a lack of motivation to do simple tasks, whether in the work environment or otherwise.
• Social Isolation
Many times, the increased workload drives people to stay in a niche and finish as much of the work as possible. The consequence of this means they lock themselves up and spend less time with the people in their lives and more with their work.
• Lack of Self Care
Basic hygiene and cleanliness often times take a back seat as a result of the burnout. They may sleep excessively more, or may hardly sleep. This lack of sleep, in turn, will result in the inability to concentrate and on many mood changes. They will be more irritable and restless. More often than not, they will easily get frustrated with the tasks they do and end up being harder on themselves as a result of the dissatisfaction.
• Physical Health Problems
Chronic stress takes a severe toll on normal health. Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep is a commonly reported problem. Prolonged inadequate sleep can lead to decreased memory power and fatigue. Concentration will be difficult when sleep is not enough. Furthermore, people will be more frustrated and irritable. It has been proven that people exposed to increased stress for a long time period are more prone to stress-related heart attacks. Stress-induced palpitations are common. Headaches and lingering colds are also common problems encountered by those experiencing long-term stress.
How to Beat the Heat of Stress
- The first step is to cut off the source of stress. Take a break and turn yourself away from the source altogether.
- Next is to start treating yourself right and practising healthy habits.
- Exercise, eat well, sleep well and treat yourself to something.
- Go on a vacation you’ve been meaning to go on, have a spa day for yourself, go out with your friends or family.
- Start building up your energy again. “The most important thing to do is to relax,” says Dr Bamathy, “and people find different ways to do so. Some find it comforting to take time off to do what they want, while others choose different methods. Many people take up sports of one form or another. It helps to push out all the negativity built up.
- Yoga helps others relax through breathing techniques and mental well-being.
The options are endless! Yet others find it helpful to turn to a medical health professional for help, and I strongly encourage people to do so if they are finding it difficult to deal with stress.” Burnout and stress are commonly experienced problems. The most important thing is to learn to recognize it early on and reverse it. It can cause health problems long term and should be dealt with immediately before it does any damage. There are plenty of ways to tackle stress, and one should never give up on themselves when dealing with burnout. It is strongly recommended to get medical help when needed.