“I felt like a hamster on a running wheel, constantly moving, but I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere” (Image: AP/Getty)

Everyone can experience a burnout in the workplace, regardless of industry, background or position.

It may even take its toll on world leaders.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted hours ago that she will resign next month, citing burnout as the cause.

“I know what this job demands and I know I don’t have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple,” she said in a statement.

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As we’ve seen with Jacinda, people’s working days have changed since the pandemic – and for some, this has had a major impact on their stress levels.

In fact, it’s more common than you might think to quit a job because you don’t have “enough in the tank” – and those who took the plunge and did it, with their own health and wellness on the line first of all, seem to do that. are not to do this. I don’t think I’m sorry one bit.

Such was the case with Bryony Lewis, who quit her job in March 2022 after 10 years as a web developer. She says the signs of burnout were subtle at first, but in retrospect she thinks they built up over the years.

Bryony, a 38-year-old from Hampshire, explains: “Each morning I felt the dread of the day ahead and it was a struggle to get out of bed. Goals seemed to get higher year on year and project deadlines were often unattainable.

“I felt very depressed and found it hard to enjoy anything to the fullest. I spent my lunch breaks shopping online or browsing through vacations I couldn’t afford, trying to give myself something to look forward to. And I regularly suffered from tension headaches and migraines caused by the stress I was holding in my body.

“I felt like a hamster on a running wheel, constantly moving, but I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I counted the hours and minutes until the end of the day – but then found it difficult to spend evenings and weekends with my family because I was constantly tense, reactive and angry.”

When her company forced a return to office politics in the wake of the pandemic, it was the last straw for Bryony — who subsequently decided to quit for more flexibility.

Now, 10 months after making the decision to listen to her body and make this change, Bryony feels like she has my life back. She now runs an e-commerce business from home and works flexibly around her children.

“Looking back on it, I wish I had recognized the signals sooner and listened more to my body,” she continues. “I almost mourn those years where I felt trapped, and I think the general narrative that we can just keep pushing to do more in less time is really damaging.

‘I firmly believe that happiness at work is a natural result of focusing on well-being, finding balance and increasing flexibility.’

Merrisha Gordon: ‘I realized I couldn’t do it anymore and I didn’t want to anymore’ (Photo: Picasa)

Merrisha Gordon had a very similar experience of increasing burnout and stress. She worked as a senior manager in the NHS until September 2021 when she resigned.

“I had started this career at 22 years old and thought I was going to stay there until I retired, but I left because I was burnt out and had nothing else to give,” Merrisha, who was born in the West Midlands, tells Metro. co. UK.

The 44-year-old noticed early on in the pandemic that things changed as her work stress intensified.

She adds: “I won’t say working in the NHS has gotten more difficult – because it has always been difficult – but when you think about the pandemic things have changed overnight.

“I remember at the end of the first week of the pandemic and – after really supporting the staff all week – people were full of anxiety and stress and wanted guidance. I remember walking into the office and bursting into tears – like everyone else, I had my own family and concerns.”

Merrisha became increasingly stressed and anxious at work and – with a history of excessive hours – knew this was a dangerous road to walk.

She adds: “I had to tap into extra resources to get through the day – it wasn’t just about getting up and meditating or writing a gratitude list to stay positive, I actually had to do things like breathing exercises because sometimes I feel the fear in my chest.

“The pandemic was when it changed. I just realized I couldn’t and didn’t want to anymore.”

But the decision to step down was a conscious one – especially as a single parent – but ultimately it was necessary.

Merrisha adds: “I had a really good salary, I had a good pension, I got paid sick leave, I had things like maternity leave, and I didn’t have big savings in the bank – so I had to give it all up. That security spoke volumes about how I felt, because I just knew I couldn’t go on.

Merrisha is now self-employed and works with the NHS to train and coach staff – using her experience to help. She adds that she has no regrets about leaving – stressing that it was “the best decision” she made.

She adds, “While working for yourself is another level of stress, it’s definitely not like having a job and being burned out and stressed out.”

John Ross

“I was really pushed to the limit – physically and emotionally” (Photo: Iain Ross)

Iain Ross suffered burnout while working in two different roles, which led to him quitting both – but says he “felt like an idiot for letting it happen a second time”.

Iain remembers the first time it happened to him when he was working as a press agency manager. to do in the world. game – especially my own health and relationships.

“I slept an average of four hours a night. I was constantly sick, my diet was ubiquitous and this coupled with chronic stress also caused all sorts of digestive problems. Add to that headaches, brain fog, constant shortness of breath, physical aches and pains… the list goes on.”

After therapy, Iain stayed a little longer before deciding to leave. But when he landed his “dream job” in 2021, all those familiar signals returned.

Iain adds: “It scared me, if I’m being honest, and I made the decision very quickly that it wasn’t going to take over my life again and pretty much stopped overnight.

“The final push for me to quit was during a particularly busy week, we had a team building session and then a few drinks. I was really at my limit, physically and emotionally. I just had nothing left – any sense of my usual resilience was gone away.”

Iain adds that he can say with confidence that leaving this job was the best decision he ever made.

“I now realize that the culture and work life just isn’t who I am – meaning almost any other 9-5 job I’ve taken would have ended in burnout,” he adds.

“Some people are really made for it, especially in the PR and marketing world. I can now accept that I’m just not, and that’s totally fine. I now work for myself with some very trusted and nice PR clients, while also spending more time teaching yoga classes.

“I’m very grateful for this experience because I can now talk to others and offer help and support from a place of true understanding.”

How to recognize the signs of burnout at work – and how to deal with it:

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Approaching signs of burnout:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
  • Drop the ball or make mistakes you wouldn’t have made before.
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or low self-esteem.
  • Irritability and short temper, which can also seep into family life.
  • A lack of motivation or creativity that can make work difficult.
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches or a weakened immune system that can make you catch all the office bugs.
  • Feeling detached or isolated – especially if you feel you don’t want to burden others with your stress and worry.

As Jacinda proved, there is strength in vulnerability, and admitting burnout is by no means weak. Being open and honest in the workplace is important to addressing the issues that may be causing your burnout. Talk to a manager, human resources, or health and safety department about your concerns. You may also find that you feel less alone when you are open with other team members.

  • Create a wellness action plan. These are great for starting the conversation about your health and wellness at work, and it’s a good idea to have one whether you’re struggling or not. You can use this as a personal tool to manage your own wellness, or as a conversation starter with management (find a free wellness action plan guide and template here).
  • leave work at work. That is often easier said than done, especially if you work from home or your organization expects you to be available at all times. If possible, turn off all work notifications as soon as you finish working. If you work from home, try to separate work and living areas to make it easier to switch off. You don’t need a whole home office, but at least make it clear where work ends and private begins.
  • Say no. Again, this is often easier said than done depending on the culture of the company you work for. However, setting boundaries is one of the most important skills to learn in burnout prevention. If you have trouble saying no, say “Can I contact you?” or “May I let you know when I’m done with this?” You have a moment to think about your answer and whether you can handle this extra work. If you can’t get back to the person and say, “I’m afraid I can’t handle the extra work right now.”
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