How to avoid burning out

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Burnout can affect anyone, no matter how seemingly successful they are. We chat to a psychologist to find out how you can prevent it happening to you.

In 2016 Sindi Dlathu, who had a long-standing role on the local soapie Muvhango, suffered a second collapse at work, reportedly due to exhaustion. Her first headline-grabbing collapse at work was in 2015.

Also in 2016, television presenter Lalla Hirayama took to social media to post a snap of herself at Milpark hospital. Her hospitalisation was also reportedly due to exhaustion. What shocked people about these two personalities becoming burnt out was their tough-as-nails public personas: they seemed to be hard-working women who had their ducks in a row.

They call it exhaustion but a ninja doesn't know what that means so here we are...

A post shared by 平山 ララ (@lalla_hirayama) on

This meant their health misfortunes were a big wakeup call for a lot of people, showing that burnout is a reality and can affect anyone. But what exactly is burnout?Psychologist Tebogo Tshukudu says that a burnout is a combination of various symptoms, which makes it difficult to define. “Being burnt out usually comes with a combination of exhaustion, which in itself is a medical condition that is characterised by your mind and body being too tired to function properly, as well as frustration, being overwhelmed and feeling like there are too many balls in the air to juggle,” she says.

"One of the main catalysts for suffering a burnout is a lack of balance in one’s life. Someone can feel that there is pressure on the work front, but also in their personal lives, and that they cannot excel at the one without neglecting the other,” Tshukudu adds. In today’s fast paced world where unemployment is high and corporate demands and deadlines are at their peak, bringing your A-game at work could not be more important. But how can one avoid burn out?

According to Tshukudu, these are a few tips you can implement to avoid suffering from burnout.

1. Pace yourself

You really do not have to bite off more than you can chew at work. Most people believe that going the extra mile will earn them brownie points with their bosses, but it is more effective to take on small tasks and excel at them than overworking yourself and potentially crashing and burning. You do not have to put in extra hours at work unless absolutely necessary. Working long hours also has the potential to bring a big ball of disappointment and frustration if, regardless of all the extra work you put in, you are still overlooked.

2. Take your leave

We often hear of people who pride themselves on the fact that they have not taken leave in years. This is not a good thing. Take some time off from work to allow your mind, body, and even your soul to recuperate. Sometimes a day off is not enough, as we spend it catching up on household chores, social obligations, school meetings, and so on. A proper chunk of leave will allow you time to refuel and find balance.

3. Manage your time

If you feel as if you never have enough time in a day, this is a definite red flag. Keep a detailed schedule and adhere to it. Assign different aspects of your life outside of work a dedicated time. These would be activities such as cooking, supervising kids’ homework, and, most importantly, your sleep.

This article first appeared in print in the Sowetan S Mag June 2018 edition.

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