In 2019, the World Health Organisation formally recognised burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’, and as working hours increase and stress and pressure mount, it is becoming more and more prevalent.
This state of emotional and physical exhaustion is real, and ignoring the symptoms and signs of burnout can negatively impact your physical and mental wellness in the future.
At Maserati MSG Racing, we take burnout seriously and since April, we’ve been exploring the impact of stress and pressure on our wellbeing.
Now, we’ve teamed up with our health and wellness partner, Craft 1861, to highlight some of the different symptoms of burnout so you can spot and identify them before you reach that stage.
Eric Lujan, Craft 1861’s Founder, explains "Burnout is the body's way of telling you that you've been running on empty for too long. When exhaustion becomes a way of life, it's time to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities.
“There are a few key things that we need in our lives in order to be in flow, to be happy and to prevent burnout,” explains Eric.
“The first one is purpose. Having a sense of purpose in life triggers the release of dopamine in our brains, providing us with the drive and motivation to pursue our goals, and ultimately leads to greater happiness and fulfilment.
“Life is hard, and you can get through the daily grind with a true north, which is your life’s purpose.
“Second is autonomy. We need autonomy with our time and our own personal schedule. In an ideal world we need to be able to sleep seven to eight hours each night, have a daily self-care and exercise routine, eat a healthy diet, and work at our most productive time of day. This is key.
“When we have autonomy, we activate the same powerful feel-good chemicals dopamine and endorphins in our brain that we release when we play. Because of that, work becomes much easier – almost effortless. It doesn’t matter how challenging the task is, it becomes fun.
“The third is reward, this is extremely important and it’s why I’m such a big believer in setting daily challenging but achievable goals in our personal and professional lives.
“When we experience rewards, our brain releases a powerful combination of chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin.
“These chemicals work together to reinforce rewarding behaviours, motivating us to seek out similar rewards in the future, and contributes to our feelings of pleasure and well-being."
“Everyone needs to be rewarded, and daily achievement and success reminds us that we’re winning. We need to experience those daily wins in life to keep our energy, creativity, and motivation levels high.”
When purpose, autonomy and reward disappear, the terrain ahead becomes tough, and that’s when people can enter a state of burnout according to Eric.
“Every single time I see burnout, it’s because somebody is grinding on low sleep, neglecting their self-care working long and difficult hours, without autonomy, without reward and sometimes without support from the people close in their life
“At this stage in the burnout cycle, you’re in pain, and begin searching for ways to numb that pain. You start to make poor decisions that send you further down the mental and physical health rabbit hole,” adds Eric.
“It’s common for burnt-out individuals to numb the pain they are experiencing with food, alcohol, drugs, social media, and other means. This can create other health and relationship problems. From there, the burnout cycle can persist.
“Recognising the symptoms of burnout and formulating a plan can make all the difference especially in a high-pressure environment like a racing team.
“The good news is that with early prevention and the right wellness strategy, you can use your biology to work for you. By prioritising you mental and physical well-being, you can reach your full potential, while feeling your best on your journey.”
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it is vital to act. The following steps can help you prioritise self-care and lead to healing. Never be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional to help prevent your state of burnout from escalating.
1. Prioritise sleep and exercise: Make sure you're getting enough quality sleep and engaging in regular physical activity to support your physical and mental health.
2. Prioritise self-care: Engage in activities that recharge your batteries, such as meditation, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing hobbies.
3. Identify and manage stressors: Pinpoint the sources of stress in your life and develop strategies to manage them. This could include setting boundaries, delegating tasks, or seeking support from others.
4. Focus on intrinsic motivation: Instead of solely focusing on external rewards or validation, cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in your work.
5. Practice mindfulness: Stay present and engaged in the moment, rather than getting caught up in worries about the future or regrets about the past.
6. Embrace challenges and growth: View setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than sources of frustration or failure.
7. Cultivate a sense of community: Develop positive relationships with colleagues and loved ones, and seek out opportunities for social connection and support.
8. Establish healthy habits: Eat a balanced diet and take breaks throughout the day to prevent burnout.
9. Create a positive work environment: Foster positive relationships with colleagues and strive to create a healthy and supportive work environment.
"Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to preventing burnout. Taking just one or two intentional steps each day, such as prioritising sleep, exercising in nature or practicing mindfulness, can have a powerful and positive impact on your overall well-being," adds Eric.