Mental Health Matters: Managing burnout
Burnout is something everyone deals with at some time or another—especially with all the added pressures of living through a pandemic. While burnout is usually associated with work, it can carry over into all parts of life, caused by personal or relational problems.
Fortunately, when someone is moving toward burnout, warning signs begin to appear. By learning to recognize them, you can learn to manage it before it affects your work and life. These are some signs Lifeworks, which manages Dallas ISD’s Employee Assistance Program, suggests you look for:
- You find yourself with more tasks than you can reasonably accomplish.
- You have to stay late regularly and cannot finish your assignments on time.
- You struggle to stop thinking about work outside of your set hours.
- You check your email frequently when you are off the clock, or you cannot respond to all the messages in your inbox on time.
- You feel annoyed, frustrated or resentful when you interact with colleagues.
With loved ones
- You do not have time or energy to give to your family and friends.
- You are irritable and impatient at home.
- You snap at or are short with your children.
- You get into more fights with your partner.
- You do not have energy to socialize and start canceling or rejecting plans.
- You stop prioritizing or practicing self-care.
- You struggle to maintain your regular sleeping patterns.
- You stop exercising or decrease the time you are moving.
- You reach for unhealthy foods to help you cope.
- Your alcohol consumption increases.
If you recognize yourself in these warning signs, take a deep breath. You have already completed the first step toward recovery by building awareness of what you are experiencing. Now, it is time to create your “burnout plan.” This can be as simple as assessing your to-do list and asking for help, or it can involve several of the practices below suggested by Lifeworks.
While it may sound obvious, setting boundaries can be challenging. The most important elements are identifying what you need—or what you cannot manage alone—and taking action. That means setting boundaries with those around you and with yourself. For example, if your job permits, you could decide to check your email only during working hours.
Schedule time to rest.
You are not an endless working machine, so you need time to rest and recharge. Get outside, eat healthy meals and prioritize your sleep. You can also build in reflective breaks to check on yourself and see how you are doing.
Do something you enjoy.
Give yourself a mental vacation during your free time. Whether you love going out to eat, taking long walks, talking to friends, finally finishing a project or watching a movie with the whole family, you deserve those moments of happiness. As an added bonus, you will naturally find your stress decreasing the more you enjoy your activities, which will lessen your feelings of burnout.
Get the help you need.
Recovery is always easier with support. Whether it is talking with your manager or a trusted colleague, following recommendations from a doctor or a mental health professional or getting comfort from a friend or loved one, help is out there. All you have to do is reach out and ask for it.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you can also take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program. Dallas ISD’s Employee Assistance Program by LifeWorks is a confidential service that offers help with countless personal and work-related concerns, including but certainly not limited to burnout. Their counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you need support, no contribution required.
All you have to do is reach out to LifeWorks at (972) 925-4000 or visit www.dallasisd.org/benefits and click on Benefits Resources to access online EAP information.