When severe, a job burnout triggers a dire sense of anxiety and apprehension at the thought of going to work. It also makes the person frequently call in sick. When not so obvious, it can make you feel your work becoming increasingly meaningless, and joyless.
Burnout is more than emotional blunting — it’s emotional exhaustion with physical symptoms of chest pain, palpitations, breathlessness, sleeplessness. It drains your willpower as well as your firepower. Not only do you not want to do a thing, but feel energy-sapped to get up to do it.
A burnout at work usually results from a long-riding stress, or from a string of failures to meet job targets.
According to Workplace Strategies For Mental Health, a burnout is more likely when employees:
- Expect too much of themselves.
- Never feel that the work they are doing is good enough.
- Feel inadequate or incompetent.
- Feel unappreciated for their work efforts.
- Have unreasonable demands placed upon them.
- Are in roles that are not a good job fit.
How To Find Out If You’re Feeling A Work Burnout
We’ve all felt the stressful effects of job burnout at some point or other. It doesn’t matter if you’re working at your dream job or in a dead-end ‘just until I get back on my feet’ job, it can pop its head anytime.
Some ‘bad days’ will turn into bad weeks, then bad months. You’re sick and tired of working for X company, and you feel like it won’t get any better ever.
Ask yourself these questions:
- I feel dread getting ready and going to work.
- I feel emotionally and physically drained at work.
- I feel I am always failing to achieve my work targets.
- I feel frustrated doing the same work day in and day out.
- I feel there is more work for me to do than I can practically do.
It might get so worse you might even start to consider reaching out for the pills. You think those can calm you down for the moment. And, in any case, you’ll only use them for a little while. But that is a dangerous path to go down on, and many have lost themselves there before you.
So, if you ever feel you need medicine for your burnout, go to a medical doctor. Never self-medicate, or take anyone’s advice if they’re not a doctor.
Harmful Effects of A Job Burnout
But what symptoms can job burnout actually cause?
Burnout can be measured by noting clinical complaints in three areas:
- emotional exhaustion
- cynicism or a sense of detachment from others, and
- a feeling of inefficacy.
Well, it’s not some ‘made up excuse for a day off work’, as some employers seem to think. Job burnout is a genuine condition, actually called chronic work-related stress. And you sure would have heard how stress can cause dangerous effects on our body and mind.
In its initial stages, burnout can cause emotional and physical fatigue. This makes you feel too tired to do any work. Insomnia, irritability and attention span issues follow, making you inefficient at work.
If job burnout goes on for too long, it can lead to some deleterious side effects. In some working environments, as construction sites, you could become a potential life-threatening danger to both yourself and others due to burnout.
Research shows job burnout directly correlates to both clinical depression and anxiety disorder.
Burnout can make day-to-day tasks difficult — even waking up in the morning can become a challenge. Becoming emotionally distant from your loved ones is also all too common.
You may also find yourself reaching for alcohol or drugs to try to cope. Some other medical conditions, as heart disease and diabetes, could follow.
5 Effective Ways To Deal With Job Burnout
So, job burnout is a terrible and real condition, but how can you avoid it?
Well, there are some ways to get rid of the beginnings of job burnout. Research suggests early burnout in your career does not seem to cause any significant, negative, long‐term effects. However, late-career burnout might have more serious long‐term effects.
You could use these five effective strategies to start pulling yourself out of a burnout if you feel you’re entering the phase, or even deep into it.
- Find New Relationships In The Workplace
- Do Only What You Signed Up For
- Employ A Breathing Strategy
- Go Off The Grid For Sometime
- Introduce A Change Of Scenery
1. Find New Relationships In The Workplace
By relationships, this doesn’t mean spark up an office romance. Human interactions are a great way to steer you out of a burnout at your workplace.
It means beginning new friendships with those colleagues you usually don’t go out of your way to speak to. Perhaps, you share a commute and have seen them on your train or bus. Or you tend to sit near to them while eating your lunch.
Whatever the case, when you’re working with your best friends, it often doesn’t feel like work. Research shows co-worker support could reduce emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.
New workplace buddies are great to that. You can laugh and joke through your day, as well as find real support when you share experiences. You’d work to your full potential, meaning everyone’s happy.
But most importantly, you’ve made some new friends and are enjoying your work life more.
We humans are naturally social animals. So, depriving yourself of communication in your workplace is more damaging to yourself than anything else.
You won’t be able to function properly if you’re quiet all the time and don’t speak to anyone. It could mean you do not even to thank them or ask anyone for something. It’s definitely not recommended.
Even shy people will find one or two close co-workers to share a giggle and a story with from time to time. So, if it’s been a while and you haven’t started forming natural relationships within your workplace, try to get a conversation going.
Alternatively, organize a get together outside of work. It’ll benefit you massively, and stop burnout getting the better of you at work.
2. Do Only What You Signed Up For
Sometimes, the sheer amount of work a proactive boss can put onto your desk every morning is what causes job burnout. Much of it can be off-loaded, believe it or not.
You can keep a copy of your job description, and then make a quick list of the tasks and responsibilities you expect to complete each day. Making it as you do each task can be helpful. Even putting down how much time you spend on each activity could be useful – for comparison.
You may find out your job description does not match what you are expected to do, with no pay-rise or promotion to show for it.
Going to your boss and explaining your situation, saying you feel overworked may gain you some freedom. Tell them there’s no reason for you to be taking on so many other tasks against what you were promised. Point out this is not what you believed you would have to do when you signed up for the job. This should lead to more free time and less pressure.
The pressure to do well or complete extra tasks before certain deadlines is often what sparks the worse side effects of job burnout. So, reducing these tasks by cutting away what is not your job in the first place will definitely benefit you.
3. Employ A Breathing Strategy
Breathing, as simple as it sounds, can bring in serenity in the midst of a stressful working environment, and keep burnout from ruining your workday.
Try this. Breathe in for four counts – that’s one elephant, two elephants, three elephants, four elephants. Mind you, it’s not just a quick ‘one, two, three, four’ that takes about half a second! Then breathe out the same way.
The whole process can help to ground you, and make sure your work pressure doesn’t get to your head.
4. Go Off The Grid For Sometime
In the modern age, work is everywhere, thanks to our smartphones and laptops. But, sometimes all you need is to get away from all that. When you’re out from work, whether it’s your free evenings or mornings, or actual days off or vacations, put your work phone away.
You’re not at work. You don’t have to reply to emails unless you are under a strict command to do so. Even then, you should consider having a sit down with your manager and explaining the stress your ‘work away from work’ is causing you.
Going ‘off the grid’ when you’re not at work can help to establish your free time as actual free time, not just a time to work away from the office. This, in turn, leads to less burnout at your job as you no more feel like you are slaving away at your job wherever you are.
In a 2018 study (PDF) of 1,500 US workers, the majority reported positive effects of taking vacation. Sixty-eight percent said when they return to work, their mood is better. Sixty-six percent said they have more energy, and 57 percent reported more motivation and feel less stress.
5. Introduce A Change Of Scenery
Changes keep your mind in an active mode of learning. So, instead of going into a stale work environment and burning yourself out, treat your mind to a change of scenery.
This could be as small as rearranging the items on your desk, or even asking to move to a different office, or taking a vacation in a different area that you’ve never been to before. Whatever works for you, it’ll be the pleasant surprise of novelty your brain needs to bring it out of burnout mode, and back into efficient working mode.
This way, you can stay in the zone when you need to be, and chill out when you don’t.
A burnout syndrome can feel like an unending sentence, more so these days because you need to keep your job.
But by finding out the what and how of it, you can prevent it, and recover from it. Start with a promise to yourself of a happier and balanced life at your work as well as outside your work.
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Authors’ Bio: Beatrix Potter is a professional writer at BoomEssays. She writes about psychology and brain science. She enjoys traveling, running and reading across a wide range of genres. Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.
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