Avoid burnout this winter

Cantabrians should try to avoid feeling guilty about prioritising themselves and regularly practice self-care to lower their risk of burnout and its potential to impact those around them, says Pegasus Health’s Mental Health Clinical Team Leader, Karl Belcher.

Serious and prevalent experience of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

“I would say globally everyone is at risk of burnout at present. For some, COVID-19 continues to loom large, and the war in Ukraine has created many global uncertainties, which puts people at further risk. We have also seen pressures locally with inflation and the rising cost of living.”

When people are burnt out, the consequences for them and the wider community are significant. Burnt out individuals are at higher risk of physical and psychological issues and less likely to be well-engaged in their communities and work.

“It is not uncommon for people who are caring for others to be at higher risk of burnout. They often forget about their own needs and prioritising self-care, which is a key part of a person’s well-being,” he says.

For many kiwis, this does not come naturally as it is not culturally ingrained, we face the ‘she’ll the right’ attitude which can lead to people feeling guilty or uncomfortable to prioritise their well-being.

“However, as you do in a plane you need to put on your oxygen mask before you can help others. A key concept to consider is self-compassion.”

Establishing and nurturing meaningful relationships with the people and things that matter in life can be one way to protect against burnout.

Understanding who and what is important and moving towards these things will help provide more resilience and capacity to manage stress and other factors that lead to burnout.

“Kanohi ki te kanohi / face-to-face and being with others is also important. COVID-19 has reduced this, however as we begin our recovery, look for opportunities where you feel comfortable and safe to do so,” Karl says.

The Mental Health Foundation provides some tips on ways to look after our wellbeing when times are tough: Wellbeing tips | Mental Health Foundation

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