“Slowly you may have transformed from a helper to one in need of help. It’s important to talk about this.”   ―  Jenn Bruer

Have you ever:

  • felt as though you just can't cope anymore
  • noticed that you get sick as soon as you take any holiday or day off from work?
  • felt overwhelmed or that you just want to give up or hide?
  • noticed that your physical health isn't great; perhaps your IBS or skin condition has flared up; you feel sick a lot; or maybe you are getting more headaches?
  • found it impossible to disconnect from work and find yourself worrying about work matters through the evenings and weekend?
  • felt really exhausted, tired all of the time or run-down?

You could be suffering from burnout. The World Health Organisation defines burn out as a "syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.  Symptoms of the condition include feelings of exhaustion, a reduction in professional productivity and feelings of negativity towards your professional life/career.

Today the BBC published a video by Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio on his mental health struggles (the video is available here). The Lloyds chief executive highlights that "It is very important to have high performance, but you cannot be at peak performance forever". He describes his mental health issues during the 2011 financial downturn and discusses how his worries around his professional life prevented him from getting enough sleep. This sleep deprivation in turn made his day-to-day working life more challenging and made it even more difficult for him to get any sleep. In the BBC post the chief executive highlights the importance of:

  • sleep for mental well-being and productivity; 
  • making time for rest, recovery and holidays; and 
  • prioritising mental health awareness raising in the workplace.

It is encouraging to see senior figures discussing and raising awareness around this important issue. Even those helping and managing others are sometimes in need of help or time to rest/recover themselves and there is no shame in this. I know that I personally, despite being a psychotherapist and helping others with their mental health, have moments where I need the support of others, or need to take some time out to rest, recharge and reflect. 

The video from the Lloyds chief executive was published on the same day that the BBC also published a video on how to spot if you are burnout (the video is available here: here). Just as a phone or laptop will eventually give-up if we do not stop and re-charge it, much in the same way, we will eventually burn out if we are expending more energy that we are conserving, if we are focusing too much on output without building in time for rest and relaxation. Just as, if we try and run a marathon as though we were running a 100m race, we would eventually collapse and fail - so we are pushing our bodies to the ultimate limits with our stressful/highly charged/ever-busy lives.  

This is a great reminder from the Lloyds CEO that it is okay (and indeed essential) just to take some time out to rest and recover. We cannot be in peak performance mode all of the time. There is no shame in admitting that you need this time to rest/recover or that you need support with your mental health - in fact it is a sign of strength.  Let's run that marathon slowly and just attempt to hit our personal best, rather than charging forward full-speed ahead and running out of fuel before the half way mark.  

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." – Ovid