Life

Millennial burnout: 3 signs of stress-induced exhaustion, and what to do about it

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Jasmine Andersson
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Millennial burnout

Millennial burnout is a very real thing, as a much-shared BuzzFeed article proved. Here, we look at three signs that you’re suffering from stress-induced burnout – and what you can do about it.

Being a millennial is tough. This generation (the oldest of whom are now 38), has been blamed and criticised for more things than you can count, from causing the death of mayonnaise to being “lazy, spoilt and self-obsessed”.

On top of that, there’s the fact that millennials are earning less money, unable to get on the property ladder and having less sex than our parents did back in the day, all while navigating the realities of ‘always on’ culture. Is it any surprise that millennials are unhappier than ever before?

Let’s be direct: life is exhausting and frustrating, so we don’t blame you for feeling tired.

When our phones are constantly lit, replying to work emails at 10pm is the status quo and we’re still trying to have a semblance of a social life in the bits in between, it’s no wonder that we’re too sleep-deprived to function.

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But, while tackling the occasional sleepless night or two is just about doable, there’s a definite difference between tackling tiredness and dealing with a full stress burnout. In fact, it’s become such an identifiable problem among people in their twenties and thirties that it even has its own term: “millennial burnout”.

Last year the World Health Organization named “burnout” a “syndrome”, which gave the term real legitimacy for the first time. WHO have said that the term should only be applied in an occupational context - although many millennials could argue that what happens at work hugely affects the other areas of our lives. 

WHO have listed the symptoms as:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion,
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, or
  • Reduced professional efficacy
Sleep
There are three key signs of a burnout

So how can we work out when our yawns are indicative of something more serious?

The team at the Thinkergirls spoke to Doctor Sam Hay from Australia and asked him to reveal the red flags to watch out for. This way, we can step in and help ourselves and others better manage stress before that moment occurs.

1. Poor sleep

“Finding it hard to get to sleep, waking up a lot overnight, or waking up early and just ruminating over things – usually stuff that gets you down is a sure-fire sign of exhaustion,” says Dr Hay.

How to combat it:

According to the NHS, making sure you wind down for bed is essential for getting that much-needed shut eye.

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Whether it’s a warm bath to regulate your body temperature, writing “to-do” lists for the day ahead or reading a book and avoiding the bright lights of your phone and TV, these acts can allow us to enter a deep sleep without worrying about the priorities of the next day.

2. Reduced workplace motivation and concentration

People just sit at the desk staring at the screen and it takes them forever to make even the most simple of decisionswhen they’re tired, says Dr Hay.

How to combat it:

According to the experts, tackling short and sweet tasks first can activate our brains to get them in the right mode for the rest of the working day.

A work-out at lunch can also help get the blood flowing, and a tactical green tea or two (before 4pm) can provide a welcome caffeine burst without affecting another night’s sleep.

Short temper is the key sign of a burnout
Short temper is the key sign of a burnout

3. Short temper

“Just losing it at the simple things is a clear indicator of burnout,” says Dr Hay.

How to combat it:

Breathing deeply, counting to ten and just taking a step outside are the quick-fire ways to avoid a short exchange when you’re in a state of burnout.

Indeed, simply telling people you’re tired and you’re not in the best mood can ease your load on the most stressful days, advises the NHS

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So if these heady, sleepless times are getting you down, be good to yourself and have a rest tonight.

It’s always best to remember one key mantra when the heat of the day is dying down: “our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners”. 

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This article was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated throughout.

Images: Rex Features, mohamed_hassan on Pixabay, Pixels and iStock

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Jasmine Andersson

When she isn't talking about her emotional attachment to meal deals or serenading unfortunate individuals with David Bowie power solos in karaoke booths, Jasmine writes about gender, politics and culture as a freelance journalist. She wastes her days tweeting @the__chez  

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