IN her latest column for the Advertiser, health columnist Lucy Dunn discusses the best ways to try to avoid burnout over the festive period.

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A LOT has happened in 2021. With all the changes that have taken place in the creation of a new “post-Covid” normal, it’s all been pretty overwhelming. The term “burnout” has become far more prevalent and across all types of media, discussion of setting work-life limits and adjustment of personal priorities has come to the fore.

“Burnout” isn’t a new term – it was actually coined in the 1970s. It’s caused by prolonged stress which can come about from feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands, which causes emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.

With the constant evolution of technology, we are consistently becoming more efficient and accessible – but is this necessarily a good thing?

Being so contactable spurs on the productivity cycle: you’re more able to do work remotely, to take work home, or to be called in at short notice more easily.

In dedicating more of your time to work, with ever-increasing demands being placed on workers, it’s harder to switch off and de-stress.

Over time this can build up to cause problems for both you and those around you, and you may find you’re getting irritable more easily, or getting overly emotional at times, or perhaps having trouble sleeping.

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Stress manifests in many ways, and it can appear differently in everyone.

A helpful model to try and wind down stress is the five-part “stress intelligence” guide, which focuses on “stress awareness” by better understanding things that trigger you, and the ways in which you respond, and “stress knowledge”, which is having a more general understanding of how stress can affect your mental and physical health.

The third step is “self care”, focusing on finding ways to ensure you are looking after yourself by establishing healthy boundaries and habits – vague advice, but again something that will look different to everyone.

Fourth is “lifestyle management”: this is where the emphasis on looking after your general health comes in. Aim to maximise your healthy options: get outside, do exercise, eat well and consciously, reduce alcohol consumption, stop smoking, socialise more with people you enjoy being around.

Last is “everyday energy” - which sounds like a bit of spirituality overkill - but the crucial point here is ensuring that you put time aside on a daily basis to ensure you have moments to switch off and reset, refreshing yourself for the rest of the day – or the next.

So maybe this Christmas, we should find the time to reflect on our own trials and tribulations of this last year and think about how we can set better habits in the new year to try and unwind from everything going on around us.