Have you become irritable, impatient or critical of your colleagues or work? Do you lack energy and are being ineffective in the workplace? Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints? You could be suffering from BURNOUT, which is quite common at this time of year!
Burnout refers to mental and physical exhaustion. Burnout is a serious condition, and has been labelled an epidemic of the modern workplace. You may experience burnout when:
- the demands of your work consistently exceed the amount of energy you have available.
- your efforts at work have failed to produce the results that you expected, and you feel deeply disillusioned as a result.
- you identify so strongly with work that you lack a healthy balance between your work life and your personal life.
- you try to be everything to everyone.
- you feel you have little or no control over your work.
- your job is monotonous.
- you feel that every day at work is a bad day.
- you feel exhausted much of the time.
- you feel no joy or interest in your work, or even feel depressed by it.
- you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
- you engage in escapist behaviors, such as excess drinking.
- you have less patience with others than you used to.
- you feel hopeless about your life or work.
- you experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, sleeplessness, or heart palpitations.
The consequences of burnout can be debilitating and life-threatening, and include:
- excessive stress
- a negative spillover into personal relationships or home life
- anxiety / depression
- alcohol or substance abuse
- high cholesterol / heart disease
- type 2 diabetes, especially in women
- vulnerability to illnesses
Unfortunately, burnout doesn’t go away on its own. It will only get worse, until you address the underlying issues causing it. If you ignore your burnout, it will only cause you further harm down the line, so it’s important that you begin to manage it as soon as possible.
Here are ways you can manage burnout:
- Manage the stressors that contribute to job burnout. Once you’ve identified the thing that is fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can begin addressing the issues.
- Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your manager. For example, perhaps you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions.
- Adjust your attitude. If you’ve become cynical and overly critical at work, consider ways to improve your outlook, such as taking short breaks throughout the day, rediscovering enjoyable aspects of your work, or recognizing co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well-done.
- Seek support. Reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones. Support and collaboration will help you cope with job stress and feelings of burnout.
- Assess your interests, skills and passions. An honest assessment can help you decide whether you should consider an alternative job, such as one that’s less demanding or one that better matches your interests or core values.
- Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you effectively deal with stress. It will also help you get your mind off work and focus on something else.
- Get more sleep. Sleeps restores well-being and helps protect your health. You should aim for at least 7-8 hours each night.
- Get organized. Clear your head. Put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize the items. This way, you won’t have to keep thinking or worrying about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
- Put away your digital devices. Place your smartphone in a basket or drawer when you arrive home so you’re not tempted to pick it up and check your email; or turn it off at a certain time of the evening. Whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow.
- Do something interesting. This will take your mind off your stressful situation, and give you something to look forward to.
Don’t reach burnout phase, be aware of the symptoms and implement strategies to prevent it to protect your health and reduce consequences to those around you.