The general malaise of burnout affects us all.
'Tis the season for mulled wine, pigs in blankets, and throwing caution to the wind with your bedtime. Christmas is coming, but not before a relentless schedule of parties sends us dashing through the pharmacy for Dioralyte and paracetamol.
Yes, this time of year is as synonymous with hangovers and exhaustion as it is with getting merry. While it certainly feels good to blow off some steam at the end of the year and celebrate all that you’ve achieved, the pressure to show your face at every party, be the last to leave work and look fabulous while doing so can be a bit much to handle. And with a limited number of weekends to work with, could you be suffering from Christmas burnout?
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Given the furtive nature of the beast, its method of creeping up unceremoniously is the shock factor that really presents burnout with its all-encompassing complexion.
Its three key symptoms are overwhelming exhaustion; feelings of cynicism and detachment leading to a sense of ineffectiveness; and a sense of lack of accomplishment at work. This is not just a feeling of dissatisfaction. It is a prolonged response to chronic stress that can lead to being signed off sick, as well as high blood pressure and even depression.
Millennials, in particular, are under acute pressure.
They face a challenging economic climate and a difficult job market, which is forcing many to become bonafide members of the boomerang generation.
Not only are you meant to have an amazing job and personal brand, but you’re also meant to actively promote it at every opportunity via social media, thus fuelling the constant comparison and competition online.
We have an insatiable thirst to succeed; we want it all and when we do get it, we’re still looking for more — we’re always working.
Irish Tatler spoke to career and coaching psychologist Sinéad Brady with tips on how to create balance in a seemingly impossible situation.
She recommends starting with Tactical Thursdays.
"On a weekly basis, check in with yourself to see how you feel. I suggest that you set aside 60 seconds to ask yourself how did you manage your lifestyle non-negotiables this week. These include enough sleep, exercise, the right nourishment, time with close ones.
"The work ‘stuff’ always gets done but the part that we most often forget is the basic needs that we all have as humans."
Also important, according to Brady, are monthly reboots.
"Use your holiday allowance really cleverly. Sit with your calendar and figure out how you can make it work so that you have a long weekend or a break integrated into your life every six weeks.
"These breaks are your longterm sources of cognitive shutdown and signal to your brain that it is time to step out in order to step up in your career. If you are unable to step totally away from work, give yourself permission to access your work-related tasks for one hour each day. Be really strict with yourself and stick rigidly to that hour.
"Break it into two sets of 30 minutes which means you give yourself permission to check in in the morning and evening.
Before you leave the office be very very clear that you are taking a break and will not be available for contact."
And for when that well-deserved holiday does come around, Sinéad urges the importance of the following tips for learning to switch off right away.
The week before you go on holidays:
- Never start a new project
- Make sure that you hand over vital information to your team or colleagues so that your work is continued while you are away
- Explain very clearly in your Out Of Office that you will not be responding to emails while away
- Switch out your phone for a basic phone that has no WiFi that way you cannot be tempted
"The one thing I would say is that if you are a leader in an organisation encourage your people to make no contact with emails or the office during their time off. Lead by example and while you are on your breaks don’t engage.
"As a society, unless we begin to change the way we work to suit the needs of our knowledge-based workforce burnout, stress, depression will reign supreme at the cost of an engaged workforce.
"Remember, we are not robots and we must switch off in order to work effectively."
Main image by The Holiday