What Is Burnout?
Many people experience job burnout. Feelings of exhaustion and a lack of interest over time lead to deteriorating job performance, and the demands placed on you have exceeded your ability to deal with the associated stress.
Without remedy, burnout can destroy your health, happiness and relationships. So, the key is to identify it and fight it early.
What Should You Look Out For?
Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical, and you may feel like you are completely tired all the time.
You may feel unenthusiastic about anything or have the internal drive towards your work, and it may be getting harder to turn into work every day.
You may be disillusioned or notice that you feel more pessimistic than usual. It is important to realise when this is at a level unusual for you.
If stress has become chronic, you may have difficulty paying attention. This can negatively affect your ability to solve problems or make decisions, and it might be difficult for you to remember things.
If you are able to assess your job performance against performance in earlier years, this long-term view may show you whether your slump is temporary or you are experiencing chronic burnout.
You could be getting into more conflict with others or, alternatively, you may have become more withdrawn, talking to your colleagues and family less.
Letting Yourself Go
If burnt out, some people cope by drinking too much, smoking, not getting enough exercise, eating too much, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep.
Some people self-medicate, and rely on sleeping pills, drink more alcohol at the end of the day or drink more coffee to raise their energy levels.
Taking Work Home
If you are using mental energy mulling over your job when you are not at work, then it is affecting your ability to unwind. You need time to yourself, and time to stop thinking about work altogether.
Generally Decreased Satisfaction
You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck with regard to your career, what’s going on at home, or in your social life.
Health problems such as digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity can arise in cases of long-term chronic stress.
What To Do If You Are Experiencing Burnout
Really consider what works for you. It could be listening to music, reading, walking or meditation but, whatever it is, put time aside.
Find a Passion
Be passionate about something outside work. Find a challenge – it could be a hobby, a sport or volunteering – and make sure that you truly engage with it.
Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email so that family and social time is not infiltrated.
Fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity.
To recover from burnout, you need to recharge. Sleep is one way to do this, and getting enough sleep can actually improve your memory.
Put together a to-do list, and then prioritise it. You can then spend less time worrying about important things falling through the cracks, and more time on productive tasks.
On a mental level, burnout links with depression. So, if things get really serious, you may need professional help. Conversely; headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or stomach upsets are physical signs of excess stress.
Whether mental or physical, it is important to tune into the signs that you might be under too much stress, and make the adjustments in your life required to prevent burnout.
Is it You or Them?
Burnout can stem from internal or external factors. Some burnout is the fault of work such as where an employer is cutting hours, reducing benefits or making redundancies. Demands on you can increase, and you need to work out whether your employer is meeting your needs, and then decide on the right way forward for you.
Is It Time to Make a Change?
Consider talking to your manager or HR about how to create a better work environment, and demonstrate how this will enable you to better serve the company.
Having said that, there will be times when no matter what you do, your employer will be unwilling or not able to make the changes you need and, at that point, it could be time to move on.
If you can relate to the issues raised in this blog, and would like to explore these further, then please contact me for a discussion about whether we can work together to turn things around for you.