In the current job market, workers are asked to do more with less, do several jobs at once, and burn the midnight oil more often. That’s what high performers do, right? The problem is that if you’re asked to give a little extra all the time, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of extra to give. When that happens, you’re looking at job burnout.
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American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term “burnout” in the 1970s to describe the “consequences of severe stress and high ideals experienced by people working in ‘helping’ professions” like emergency medicine. Now, however, we use the term in a wide variety of professions.
Symptoms of Burnout
1. Feeling constantly exhausted – physically and emotionally
2. Behaving cynically towards those around you
3. Feeling trapped in the job and wanting to “escape”
4. Underperforming, or not feeling challenged enough
5. Constantly being preoccupied with work-related issues even when not at work
6. Increased conflict and arguments with friends, family, and colleagues
7. Feeling undervalued, unappreciated and incompetent
8. Disturbed sleeping pattern, changes in appetite, constant feeling of discomfort
It is important to note that stress is different from burnout. While stress can lead to physical damage, burnout also affects the person at an emotional level.
So here are a few things you can try to address burnout. These are not easy, especially if the job is in a high-pressure, high-stress environment where deadlines cannot be missed and project progress needs to be reported every day. But these are necessary steps to reinstate your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
1. First, recognize the problem
If you acknowledge the fact that you have a problem and you need to focus on it, that’s the first step in the right direction. Talk to your family and close friends if you can and let them know what you are going through and your intention of working on it. This will hopefully mean that you have other people looking out for you, and not just yourself.
2. Assess your current situation
Understand what your stress inducers are and if they can be avoided. These could be an inflexible boss or a hostile work environment such as uncooperative colleagues or bullying. Do you even feel like working in your current environment? Is it a good fit?
3. Take some time off
Separate yourself from your current environment and explore some peaceful and calming surroundings. Unwind and relax – get a spa treatment or do something you always wanted to do, but never could. Dissociate yourself from work completely.
4. Talk to your boss
This may be tough, depending on the situation you are in, but unless you discuss the issues you are facing and seek out solutions that will work, your situation will not improve. Talk to your manager about how you can manage your workload. Go into the conversation with a proposal as to how you can make changes. Maybe offer to mentor someone, or ask for opportunities to work from home.
5. Revisit your personal and professional goals
There’s something amiss here. Maybe your circumstances have changed, but you haven’t changed your expectations to go along with them. Perhaps you had unrealistic expectations from the start, and they’re causing you a lot of harm. If you have an overwhelming feeling of being undervalued or unchallenged, seek out opportunities that you think will help boost your morale. Take up some hobby or make up some family rituals or bonding activities that will keep your mind away from work, when you are away from work.
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Have you ever experienced job burnout? What did you do to overcome? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below or join the conversation on Twitter!