Banishing burnout

It is a big challenge to balance work with studies and outside interests. But some simple considerations will ensure you don’t wear yourself while doing so

The demands placed on trainees can be extremely stressful, but it is important to look after yourself in order to pursue a long career, rather than burning out before you have achieved your goals.

Burnout is best described as a state of complete physical and mental exhaustion, caused by long-term stress.

It is not quite the same thing as stress. You may, for instance, experience burnout when your workload increases permanently. Symptoms include suffering frequent minor physical complaints such as headaches, backache and other aches and pains.

Having feelings of emptiness, or feeling that your work has no meaning can also be signs of burnout.

Sleep on it

To counter the possibility of reaching that point, it is essential to get enough sleep and enough quality sleep.

Studying accountancy and working in the profession can often mean sitting still for long periods of time. But, as we know, long periods of physical inactivity can raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

As such, try to make sure you get some exercise every day to help reduce your stress levels. If you are not sleeping very well, regular exercise can help you get a proper night's sleep too. Try going for a walk during lunchtime, as getting out into the fresh air will also help clear your head.

It is also crucial to eat healthy food, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish and plenty of water. But when you are rushed or live alone, that can be easier said than done.

Break old eating habits

After years of eating on the run, or eating fast food, even though the medical community has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a proper diet is the most important thing we can do to positively affect our health, still we are often drawn back to our bad eating habits such as fast food.

A few ways to make sure you are eating healthy that are not outside the realm of possibility include keep fruit and raw vegetables on hand and easily accessible.

Whenever possible, eat at a healthy restaurant or try to cook yourself homemade meals, preferably with all the food groups.

Perhaps the best way to keep concentration levels high and enjoy a relaxed mind is to pace yourself. Try to break up your work every few hours by leaving your desk, go for a walk or run some necessary errands. Tasks are often easier when they are broken down into doable sessions.

Burnout can also happen if you feel you have lost control over your job or studies, if you feel you never get any support or recognition at your workplace or if you never have enough time to finish your tasks the way you want to.

Control tasks

If this is the case, talk to your employer, lecturer, colleagues or friends and family about ways in which you could have more control over your daily tasks and projects. Maybe consider breaking your revision down into manageable chunks and create a realistic revision timetable.

If you feel your employer has heaped more work on you than you can handle, grab the initiative and speak to them about redistributing your workload.

Finally, make sure you take time out to relax as often as possible to see friends and family and for the activities you enjoy such as playing sport, listening to your favourite music or reading a good book.

"Try to break up your work every few hours by leaving your desk, go for a walk or run some necessary errands. Tasks are often easier when they are broken down into doable sessions"