Stress vs. Burn-out… What are the signs?
With working conditions in the ‘new normal’ looking very different to our usual – not least because of the challenges of battling new software, following remote processes, increasing WiFi issues, and the impractical kitchen-table set-up – the terms ‘stress’ and ‘burn-out’ are being used even more frequently.
To find out more about what they mean, how to avoid them, and what to look out for to spot the signs in ourself and others, we spoke to Saira Jan, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at Living Well UK, to find out more:
What are common reasons for burnout and excessive stress – particularly in relation to work? Is there anything that may be exacerbating the issue now or in the near future?
With new guidelines around working from home in place since March due to COVID-19, this has potentially increased burnout and stress. This could be due to staff feeling isolated, as it can be challenging to keep all staff engaged.
The benefits of working in the office are that you can physically see how staff members are managing at work – something that can be challenging via email, telephone and video calls, as you may miss out on body language, human interaction and non-verbal cues.
Another reason for these feelings could be due to a lack of routine and structure in their working day, as people try to find balance in their work and home life.
Even I initially found it difficult to end my working day at 5:00pm: I would find myself working till 7:00pm or 8:00pm in the evening. I also found it difficult to switch off from work as you don’t have your commute home from work and a moment to yourself.
What are the signs that you’re suffering from burnout or excessive stress?
Signs of stress can vary from person to person, however some common ones are:
- Increase in sickness
- Under-performance in routine tasks
- Difficulty in managing excessive workload
- Change in communication and reactions to situations at work
- Lack of morale and enthusiasm in meetings
How would you recommend employers combat excessive stress or burnout in the workplace – particularly going into further lockdown measures?
It is important to remind staff to take regular breaks, as working from home can make it difficult to get yourself in a routine like you would within the office. I would recommend taking regular screen breaks and remember to set aside a time to have your lunch – it’s not just about eating food; it needs to be about having time to relax and reset too.
To mitigate the risk of burnout and stress, employers can also create specific windows for weekly supervision and team meetings to see how staff are getting on and what support they may need. Aside from this, I would also advise staff members to speak to their line manager for support or to even off-load about a challenging call they may have had with a client, rather than waiting and keeping it bottled up until the designated meeting time.
I encourage staff to continue taking days off for annual leave, Even though we may be in a lockdown, and may not be able to go on holiday, it doesn’t mean we can’t take time off, to have some time to yourself and recuperate. Even if you can’t go out, finding virtual events and wellbeing exercises to take part in from home still means you can make the most of downtime: at Living Well UK, we have a virtual wellbeing platform, which has free yoga classes, pilates at your desk classes, and group therapies for people to take part in.
Lastly I would suggest regular video meetings with staff members for a general tea and chat, to see how everyone is doing and to keep staff engaged and morale high, this will reduce the feeling of isolation.
For more details on how you can seek support, head to the Therapy Room or call 0121 663 1217.