Preventing and Managing Burnout in the Financial Sector

We trust that you took time in the last week or so to really focus on your own mental health with all the varied and interesting opportunities on offer over Mental Health Week and on World Mental Health Day. It is so important to pay attention to our inner voice as well as our physical body and to note the warning signs. In this week’s article by our London-based therapist Teyhou Smyth we are looking at how those working in the financial sector can prevent and manage burnout. This forms part of our series on burnout in high stress professions and follows on from our article on recognising burnout symptoms for financial professionals.

Once you realize you’re experiencing burnout, you can’t “unknow” it. Even if one chooses to ignore their symptoms there’s still an awareness of that nagging feeling of fatigue, frustration and dissatisfaction.

Burnout affects every profession and it can have profound consequences.

For people in the field of finance, burnout can be particularly risky. The potential impact of burnout for financial professionals can be staggering; it can influence the lives of countless numbers of people from businesses to individual investors and one’s own family situation.

Because of the potential for significant impact on so many levels, those in the field of finance must monitor their physical and mental wellness to ensure that burnout doesn’t take over. The onus lies within the individual and their employer to ensure a healthy work-life balance and attention to one’s energy levels when it comes to possible burnout.

Understanding the Signs of Burnout in Finance Firms

You owe it to yourself, your family and your clientele to stay vigilant about burnout symptoms. No one truly knows your inner experience but you; trying to pretend you are not stressed and overwhelmed doesn’t help anyone and in fact, puts a lot at risk.

If you are feeling any of the following symptoms, it is likely that you are headed toward burnout and need to take action to stay healthy:

  • Chronic irritability
  • Ongoing fatigue without a specific cause
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling helpless or out of control
  • Appetite changes
  • Cognitive changes/forgetfulness
  • Feeling physically ill
  • Isolating oneself/not contributing ideas
  • Making more mistakes in your work/quality of work declines

Steps to Managing Burnout

It may feel risky to admit to feeling burned-out in the workplace. If you are in a supportive work environment where you are able to share your experience with burnout, do so with a trusted supervisor. In situations where this is not possible, consider going through human resources to access the help you need. It is in your employer’s best interest for you to remain mentally and physically healthy. Remember that burnout can affect anyone, this isn’t an indication of weakness or ineptitude.

It is imperative that you commit to change. Signs of burnout require immediate action; ignoring the warning signals can result in worsening symptoms and health implications.

Identify the core issues contributing to your specific burnout symptoms and make a change in each of these areas. For example, if one of your burnout symptoms is related to long work hours, start by committing one day per week that you will leave the office at the normal time.

Use the additional hours you gained by leaving on time to unplug from all work-related tasks, step away from the electronic devices and go for a walk or play a sport that you enjoy. The physical outlet will benefit your mind and body.

Invest your time outside of work in finding balance – spend time with family and friends, attend to your spiritual, physical and emotional needs, participate in solitary activities that fuel your creative mind.

Prevention of Burnout

Even if you are feeling healthy and balanced right now, it is wise to pay attention to your needs in a preventative way to fend off burnout.

  • Set healthy limits with your employer. Remember that work is only one part of your life and it should not take over your existence.
  • Eat well. Stay on top of your nutritional intake to ensure you are taking in enough omega-threes and an array of vitamins and minerals from a well-balanced diet.
  • Pay attention to sleep hygiene. Keep your room cool and dark; avoid blue-light devices within one to two hours before bed.
  • Say no. Saying no when you need to is crucial in efforts to stay well and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

If you are feeling increasingly burned out by work, take steps to manage your health and wellness to avoid having your symptoms worsen. Paying attention to your needs is a necessary first step in avoiding workplace burnout.

[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website ~ some content may have been modified for the UK context.]

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