Burnout might seem like a buzzword, but that’s for a good reason.
Finally, we’re waking up to the impact of long-term, grinding-you-down stress, and taking steps to prevent a total breakdown.
Most of us associate burnout with work – but there are other types.
‘Worry burnout’ is one of these; a state of emotional exhaustion where someone feels completely worn out and overwhelmed by worrying.
As you might expect, it’s a common experience of those with anxiety disorders – but can also occur when you’re exposed to a steady stream of worry-inducing events (you know, as we are right now, what with the threat of WWIII looming over us).
The tricky thing about burnout is it can creep on you. You might only notice when the wave of stress is about to crash down, at which point you’re unlikely to have the energy and ability to seek proper support.
That’s why it’s vital to know and recognise the signs.
Signs of worry burnout
Martin Preston, addiction specialist at private rehab clinic Delamere, breaks down the symptoms:
- Increased anxiety and excessive worries that don’t go away
- Lack of motivation
- Withdrawal from socialising
- Avoiding the news
- Feeling exhausted
- Feeling sensitive and irritable
- Getting physically ill
How to deal with worry burnout
It’s vital that if you suspect you’re on the brink of burnout, you seek professional support. Talk to a GP or book in a session with a therapist.
Alongside this, there are steps you can take to help you get your stress and worry under control.
‘When worried and stressed, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps to slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure and balance your mind and body,’ says Martin.
‘Meditation has many health benefits and is a highly effective way to relieve stress, soften anxiety and improve your mental wellbeing.
‘Taking time to relax the mind with meditation gives you the space to separate your energy, attention and emotions.’
Write it out
Just the act of getting your racing thoughts out on to paper can make a world of difference.
‘Writing can help to boost positive emotions and reduce worries and anxiety, according to research from the British Journal of Health Psychology,’ Martin notes. ‘Spending a total of 20 minutes per day writing about positive experiences can improve your physical and psychological health.
‘The aim is to find the positive in worrying situations, to reduce stress, tension and built-up anger. Start by thinking of the thing that makes you feel worried and begin writing about the positives you can take from the experience.’
Martin says: ‘Physical activity can help lessen worrying and can have a massive influence on your physical and mental wellbeing.
‘Exercising regularly, even if that’s just 10 minutes a day, can help individuals suffering from worry burnout.
‘When exercising, breathing deeper triggers the body’s relaxation response. A cardiovascular activity, like walking outside for 20-30 minutes several times per week, can improve sleep, increase energy and increase stress-busting endorphins.
‘Other forms of physical activity that can help cope with worry burnout are gardening, circuit training, pilates, yoga and tennis.’
Share your worries
Don’t be scared to ask friends and family for support.
‘Reaching out to family and friends for help and support is crucial when coping with worry burnout,’ Martin explains. ‘Socialisation increases a hormone within our bodies that can decrease levels of anxiety and make us feel more confident in our ability to deal with stress.
‘Limited social support has been linked to increased levels of depression and loneliness, and has been proven to alter brain function and increase the risk of alcohol use, drug abuse, depression and suicide.
‘Social interactions with family and friends play a crucial role in how you function on a daily basis.’
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