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As a recent report showed, burnout is still on the rise and a very real challenge facing workplaces. As part of our Mental Health Awareness series, we spoke with Urban pro Alexandra to understand the signs of burnout and explore techniques to help manage it effectively.

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time. It can also stem from feeling unfulfilled in your role, or undervalued.

Whilst everyone is affected by stress differently, there are a few key signs of impending burnout that are almost the same for everyone. Some of these include a sense of becoming mechanical about everything, having no emotion whatsoever other than wanting to cry, and being utterly exhausted but not being able to sleep.

Other symptoms to look out for include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Having racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Feeling constantly worried, anxious or scared
  • Feeling a lack of self-confidence
  • Avoidance of things or people you are having problems with
  • Change in appetite and behaviour such as eating more or less than usual
  • Drinking or smoking more than usual

Read more: How to manage stress with the 4-7-8 technique >

Breathing technique (left nostril)

The parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for bringing the body into a state of rest) is located on the right side of the brain. Breathing through the left nostril kicks the parasympathetic nervous system into gear, prompts it to take over from its stress-inducing counterpart (the sympathetic nervous system) and drops the brain’s levels of cortisol. As a result you feel less anxious and are better able to manage stress. 

  • Simply close your right nostril with your thumb or index finger and take a few slow deep breaths in and out. Inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of four or six.


Excessive stress is often caused by too much working or worrying. Try to reserve some time “me time” for yourself on a daily basis. This could be yoga or meditation which both have positive effects on stress, or even just listening to an entertaining podcast, going on a walk (which hits the exercise as well!), reading a book, doing some colouring, knitting, cooking, having a bath or having a massage or aromatherapy treatment to help reduce levels of adrenalin and cortisol in the body.

Read more: The best massage for a better night’s sleep >

Practice gratitude

We have what is known as a ‘negativity bias’. Essentially, this means that we’re much more likely to dwell on something that’s gone wrong rather than things that have gone well. This results in a negative and unbalanced way of thinking leading to high and unnecessary levels of stress. When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin – two hormones that make us feel lighter and happier inside. This is one of my favourite practices and can be done in so many different ways such as journalling, writing bullet points of why you’re grateful, making it a habit around the dinner table, using apps and more.

Book a burnout workshop for your team with Alexandra through the Urban for teams app. Find out more and get in touch here.

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Burnout, Combat, mental health, Mindful, mindfulness, Practices

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