5 signs you need to slow down

We can all suffer from burnout. Long hours and heavy workloads at your job can be an enormous cause of stress, especially when you’re trying to balance workplace demands with fulfilment in your personal life. Letting yourself slow down is hard, but supporting your health could not be more important.

Recognising mental and physical signs of burnout and knowing how to address them is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Letting workplace stress get to you is avoidable, and there are massive benefits to remaining happy and mindful. This is especially true for Executive Assistants, who often deal with workplace crises and issues under stressful conditions

What is burnout?

Job burnout refers to a particular type of work-related stress. It creeps up on you during periods of chronic stress. Sufferers from burnout experience physical and emotional exhaustion, often centring around a feeling of underachievement and loss of personal identity. We all experience the condition differently, as burnout is influenced by various factors, including personality traits and your work environment. Job burnout can leave you feeling horrible, so it’s crucial to figure out if you’re experiencing the condition and need to slow down

Here are some common signs of burnout.

1. You feel overwhelmed

Have you ever found yourself beyond caring? Like every day is a bad day? One of the most common symptoms of burnout is loss of motivation when faced with a long period of demanding work. Unlike being overstressed, where the pressures on you leave you spending all your energy on work, feeling unable to put enough effort in is typical of burnout. If you cannot figure out why you’re feeling disengaged from work that you previously loved, you could be experiencing burnout.

2. You can’t find the time to look after yourself

Repeat after me… self-care is not selfish! Not being able to look out for yourself is one of the major signs of burnout at work. If you can’t bring yourself to maintain a healthy diet, take the time to care for your mental health, or spend time with the people around you, you may want to think about addressing burnout. This can be one of the nastiest impacts of chronic workplace stress. Not caring for your mental and physical health can have knock-on effects, weakening your immune system and leaving you vulnerable to getting worse. If you can’t seem to kick colds or flus, now is probably the time to slow down.

3. You feel like a failure

Have you ever found yourself making a mistake and thinking about it days later? When you feel unmotivated and worried about your performance, it’s easy to become unhappy with your work. This gets especially bad when burnout symptoms affect your job performance. If you’re letting things drop through the cracks or just staring at your emails with no action, it’s time to reassess and get some support.

4. EVERYTHING irritates you

Ok, so who has sent a reactive angry email!? I’ve sent a fair few in my time!
The physical signs and emotional symptoms of burnout leave you feeling unhappy at work. Many people respond by lashing out at colleagues and even family members. Have you found yourself taking your frustration out on others? Chronic stress could be why.

5. You’re exhausted

If we’ve not made it clear enough, burnout comes from exhaustion and is itself exhausting. Experiencing burnout is not something to be ashamed of. Executive Assistants often get caught up in the idea that we can do it all, and that’s just not true. When you have mountains of work in your daily life and you’re suffering from the physical symptoms of burnout, becoming really, really tired is only natural. Whether it takes longer to complete everyday tasks or you struggle to make it to work on time, fatigue is one of the surest signs of burnout.

5 signs you need to slow down - how to spot burnout

Why does this happen?

Burnout can happen for different reasons. For some people, the sources of burnout lie mainly at work. Many people experience burnout after working for long periods without a substantial break or feeling undervalued at their organisation. For others, the roots of burnout are found in trying to juggle happy home life with the stresses of work. Whatever the roots are, recognising the warning signs is key, as you can then try to get yourself to a better place.

What to do about it

The first step to addressing the signs of burnout is to reach out to those around you. People like to help! Have the courage to reach out and ask for a moment to breathe or help with a task or upcoming project. I’m sure there are people in your life who are willing and glad to help. We’ve all been exhausted and stressed out: they’ll understand how you’re feeling.
Taking time for self-care is also crucial. Use simple moments during the day, even at work, to wind down when you feel overwhelmed and stressed. For example, set aside your lunch break as an opportunity to relax and appreciate a healthy meal. Try to enjoy taking time for yourself. It may allow you to return to work feeling reinvigorated.

5 signs you need to slow down - how to spot burnout blog - The EA institute

Proper self-care also covers your attitude. Don’t beat yourself up. We’re human and we make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from your experiences and move on. Next time you feel frustrated, take a pause and check what’s going on. You’ll probably find it’s not as big a deal as you thought.

Getting professional support is a great way to get rid of burnout. If you’re experiencing really bad burnout, you might benefit from contacting a mental health professional. They’ll be happy to help you get back on track.

For longer-term solutions, consider taking executive assistant courses online or in person. The best courses will help you spot burnout symptoms coming, and give you pointers on what steps you can take to keep yourself on top of your game.


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