Prioritizing self-care and mental health, setting boundaries, and developing S.M.A.R.T. goals are all ways of avoiding burnout while working
Maggie Klimchuck
January 8, 2023

As we kick off the New Year with big goals and resolutions, it is important to assess how we can achieve these expectations without impacting our mental and physical health and fatigue.

The term, “burnout” has been circulating social media and work-related conversations as more and more folks claim they fall under this category of stressed individuals. Mental exhaustion, a feeling of unaccomplishment, and a lost sense of purpose related to work are commonly cited symptoms.

With four out of five individuals in the US claiming to be burnt out, this has been a growing issue.

Burnout is a preventable chronic illness that is plaguing our population. And, like many chronic illnesses, there are early signs to recognize the issue and ways to fend it off. Understanding warning signs of burnout gives you the upper hand.

What is Burnout?

Burnout, by definition, is a stress-related condition where an individual is at too high of a stress level for too long. This could be seen in the workplace, at the gym, at home with family, and anywhere accomplishments and responsibility are held to a higher standard. You can only sustain this level of stress for so long before you crash and burn…out.

What are the Signs of Burnout?

Early signs of burnout usually are accompanied by a sense of ambition towards a goal; a new promotion, losing weight, affording a family vacation, etc. While these goals are attainable over long periods of time through practicing consistency, it is widely believed that getting the required work done faster would get the results faster, right? But, this cheap, “get results fast” mindset is the first step towards burnout.

As things in everyday life dysregulate, personal needs get pushed to the side because so much time and energy is centered on work (or whatever endeavor is being taken on full force). Less time is allotted for sleep, diet, social life, exercise, and family life, and unhealthy habits in this new routine start to form. From the individual’s perspective, however, they are just working harder towards their goal! Most of the time, this change goes unnoticed by the individual, making this stage of burnout one of the most important to learn to identify.

If the neglect of personal needs goes unnoticed and action is not taken, conflict can begin to occur during the pursuit of a goal. The body is starting to wear down mentally and physically due to lack of sleep and self-care, things are forgotten, and tardiness and exhaustion become noticeable.

Furthermore, if intervention does not happen at this point, symptoms will increase until this burnt-out individual’s life outlook is tarnished. Social withdrawal, denial, and behavior changes lead to mental and physical collapse.

Holding yourself to high expectations is a great thing in moderation, but the key is to understand that rest and rejuvenation are required to be the best version of yourself.

Thankfully, there are a bunch of ways to easily prevent burnout in society today.

Start with a SMART Goal

A SMART goal is a goal set to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This ensures that goals are made without the risk of overreaching and burning out. Making small SMART goals over a longer period keeps you in a state of consistent improvement. This is a rewarding experience and improves self-efficacy and confidence!

An example of a fitness-related SMART goal would be, “I plan to lose 2% body fat in three months through diet and exercise”. This goal is specific to the modality in which they were to lose weight and the measurement of fat. 0.5-1% body fat/week is considered the “gold standard” of consistent weight loss, meaning 2% down in three months is achievable. Lastly, this goal is relevant because it can be held close to heart and aligns with your values.

Ways to Prevent Burnout

A simple way to prevent burnout is by setting boundaries at work and in life! Obviously don’t bail out of work just because you “felt tired and didn’t feel like it”. Take long weekends when you can, turn your business phone off outside of hours, and say no to negative external influences like drugs and excessive alcohol consumption.

Additionally, prioritize self-care and mental health! Take mini breaks throughout your day by doing something enjoyable like stretching or reading a chapter of your book. Nourish your body with healthy foods and exercise often. Attend to your own needs and do what helps you feel like the best version of yourself. It could be as small as doing your skincare routine, getting a pump on at the gym, or calling your family and friends just to say hi.

Taking on a large workload can be unavoidable at times, and properly coping through goal setting, setting boundaries, and self-care takes practice. Educating yourself and others on how to spot early signs of burnout makes taking preventative measures much easier and can strengthen your ability to take on your goals at a sustainable pace. Members of Graham Strength & Conditioning have the opportunity to schedule a S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting session with one of our nutrition coaches to help set the tone for their goals.

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