Saying bye bye to burnout for a healthier, happier work life

By Innovation Halifax

8 November 2023
5 min read

World Wellbeing At Work Week: 13th – 17th November 2023

Burnout, stress, anxiety. For many in the business world these terms have become all too common and almost synonymous with high pressure working environments. But, as more organisations move towards a more balanced way of working (see our four day working week blog) so too has a focus towards wellbeing. We caught up with Jo Keenan from Learn to Be, to find out more about burnout, its signs and building resilience and boundaries.

‘’Do you think you might be feeling burnt out?’’

This question is something I regularly find myself asking various clients in the therapy room. Not everyone responds the same, but in the majority of my client work, this can come as somewhat of a surprise to some clients, something they have not considered to be an issue before and something they would possibly think of as only happening to others and not them.

Sometimes working on how to prevent burnout is where the work would have been better started, but sometimes things have gotten so bad the client does not know what to do or why they are feeling the way they are, and there can be a general sense of failure in most people who experience burnout. This sense of failure can feed into feelings of anxiety and depression and an overall sense of not being able to manage with everyday life. The thought of not being able to cope can be overwhelming.

Building burnout awareness

In the training room, teaching about Burnout and how to avoid it, can be a really useful tool to equip staff so that they can try to prevent reaching the difficult stage of full blown Burnout.

How we react to stress is very individual and I always make a point of validating the thing that is stressing out those around me. Is it work? Is it a relationship? Being able to identify our sources of stress can allow us to take control and make some changes to our lives.

It is important to remember that stress provokes a physical response in our bodies, igniting a ‘survival mode’ where we are ready for action. This process can be helpful at times in certain situations. For example, if we are about to go into an important meeting, we may experience a feeling of anxiety in response to stress. Our hormones race, adrenaline is produced and our body becomes ready to deal with the stressful event. When we go into the meeting, things should become much calmer and you should relax. The stress should pass. When we encounter stress and that response remains, this can lead to Burnout. 

When we encounter stress and that response remains, this can lead to Burnout. 

Building resilience

Working on levels of resilience within the workplace can be really helpful for employees at all levels. If we think of resilience as a process rather than a personality trait, then we can look at ways in which we can work on this process to improve our ability to be resilient in the future.

Part of this process can involve reflection on tasks, allowing your staff to be ok with not meeting all expectations all of the time. We are human after all and humans make mistakes, humans fall over and have accidents and we sometimes get things wrong. By fostering a community at work, where we can allow our employees to recognise mistakes and to work on taking the positive from difficult situations and by creating a process of using this learning to make us better next time, it can allow employees to be themselves and learn to just be.

How can we avoid becoming Burnt Out?

  • Be kind to yourself – don’t think of yourself as a failure, look at the way things could have been better but remember you are human and we can only do what we can do
  • Don’t be afraid to set clear boundaries at work – are you still reading emails at 10pm on  a Friday night? Stick to work hours where you can and allow yourself to shut your laptop and switch off your work phone
  • Learn to say ‘No’ – sometimes we find ourselves saying yes when we really need to say no. Notice the word ‘need’ in the last sentence, sometimes we need to say no. Saying no to some things can allow you to say yes to some things that may improve your well-being
  • Are you looking after yourself? When was the last time you exercised? How is your sleep at the minute? Are you eating healthily at the moment? All of these factors can be key when trying to build up resilience and avoid becoming overwhelmed and burnt out.
  • Get support – whether this be from friends, family, work colleagues or a mental health professional, we all need someone to hold our hand at times and listen to our concerns, however insignificant we may feel they are.
  • Give yourself a break from social media – The projection of people living perfect lives online sometimes leaves us feeling low and can foster feelings that we are not ‘good-enough’ You are good enough and you are doing your best. Remind yourself of this instead of dwelling on what others appear to be achieving.

Looking after yourself should always be a priority and we need to start believing that it’s ok for it not be ok, it’s ok for us to need some support and it is ok to start a conversation if you are struggling. Take care

Jo Keenan MBACP

Operations Director

Learn to Be

About Learn to Be.

Learn to be. provides mental health training for workplaces so staff have the tools they need to build mental and emotional resilience and help create working environments where people can thrive. 

They provide expert training on a wide range of issues that helps staff to better understand the importance of good mental health. They give advice on how to build emotional and mental resilience and give people the tools they need to better deal with the challenges of working life. By putting people at the centre of everything they do, alongside their positive approach to training, they are helping to de-stigmatise the issues surrounding mental health and create a healthy working environment where people can thrive. 

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Innovation Halifax