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If we know burnout is bad, why can’t we stop?

0 2 years ago

Overworked, overstressed and overtired, burnout is rife in today’s society. And even though we know it’s affecting our day-to-day lives, we still struggle to switch off, to the detriment of our health and wellbeing.

I get stress hiccups. In fact, stress is one of the main triggers for hiccups according to the NHS. It’s sort of a jokey tidbit that I accidentally tell everyone when I start a new job (and at this point, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy). Then about six months down the line, when I’m furiously hiccuping behind my computer, nervous eyes dart over at me from across the office.

The first time I recall it happening was during my A-Levels. My art teacher, with her draconian methods of teaching, stood behind me in an empty classroom, while I painted with tears rolling down my cheeks letting out small hiccups. ‘This isn’t art therapy,’ she’d taunt on probably day five of my 10-hour exam. An accumulation of a lack of sleep, constant revision, and pressure from family and teachers that these exams would decide the trajectory of the rest of my life, led to a full-stress meltdown. I hiccupped for a week.

While the ‘let’s get this bread’ hustle culture of the last few years has stopped being so glamorised, the realities of work stress are still very much here, and it feels like it might be getting worse.

We’re in a cost of living crisis, people can’t afford to heat up their homes, house prices have skyrocketed, and with the average cost of a home in London now coming in at ​​£520,000 (meaning that I’ll probably have to work until retirement to buy a cupboard-sized flat), sometimes it feels like we have no choice but to work even harder and longer to simply survive. But what are the impacts of stress on our mental health, and can we even get off this rat race rollercoaster?


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