Signs of Burnout: How to Identify and Deal with It
Address burnout before it addresses you.
Burnout is a mental and physical state that occurs when someone is pushed to their limits. It can happen in any profession, but it's most common among people who work too hard without taking time off from the daily grind.
The signs of burnout often go unrecognized until they have already begun to take a toll on your life and productivity. This makes them difficult to deal with once you're experiencing them. Let's work to identify the signs of burnout so that you can avoid or reduce its effects!
Why Do We Get Burned Out?
We often don't realize we're burned out until we start to feel the negative effects of being overworked, but burnout usually starts much earlier than that.
The constant feeling of rushing from one task to another can be exhausting and stressful for an individual, causing them to become overwhelmed by their workload whether it's real or imagined.
The feeling of being overworked can be exacerbated by difficult coworkers or bosses who make you feel like they don't value your time. This makes it even more likely that the individual will work longer hours with little recognition for it.
This is especially true for people working in service-based industries where their interactions with customers are often draining and stressful because no one is satisfied with the response they receive.
Burnout also happens if your work doesn't have a clear direction or meaning to it. You may not feel like what you do has an impact or makes a difference.
It may sound counterintuitive but less pressure often leads to lower stress levels and a more fulfilling experience for employees who are allowed to do their job at a more reasonable pace.
What Are the Signs of Burnout?
Being overworked is one of the most common causes of burnout, but there are several other signs to watch for that can indicate you're on track toward mental and physical exhaustion.
- You may start making uncharacteristic mistakes in your work, or the mistakes might be more serious than usual.
- Meeting deadlines will become a problem as you have too many tasks that need to be addressed.
- You might experience physical symptoms like sleep problems or stomach aches, both of which can be caused by stress and anxiety at work.
- Your body may feel like it's "off" due to its natural rhythm being disrupted. This is normally due to your body producing the stress hormone cortisol, which gives you an energy spike but leaves you feeling drained and out of balance.
Exhaustion can be difficult to notice at first because it's often accompanied by feelings of apathy and disinterest. This can make you feel like you're in a rut or that your work no longer holds any meaning to it.
How Can You Deal With Burnout?
Once burnout has set in, the best thing to do is take some time off work. This won't be easy for most people. However, more employers are starting to understand the importance of a healthy work/life balance. Talk to your managers and explain your situation to see about getting additional time off.
Consider These Tips
- Take a vacation! Research shows that even two weeks away from work can have positive effects on someone suffering from burnout.
- Exercise! Commit to working out as frequently as possible. This will get you away from your work for a little while so that you can decompress and release stress.
- Switch it up! For example, take a walk a night to clear your mind instead of heading home and watching TV.
- Get more sleep! Set aside some time each evening before bedtime to wind down rather than continuing with your routine.
- Take more breaks! Go for a walk on your breaks and emphasize removing yourself from the workspace.
- Ask for help! Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life by delegating tasks rather than taking on everything yourself.
- Show appreciation! Try writing a note or email thanking someone each day, even if it's just something small like saying thanks after receiving an important report from your co-worker.
Chances are you're not the only one experiencing burnout. Others wrestle with stress and fatigue just like you do, so remember to be kind, patient, and gracious.
Remember to Uplift Yourself
When stressed, it's easy to develop a negative self-image. We can feel like we're failing at life, performing our jobs poorly, or unworthy of our achievements. I wrote a book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, filled with many tools to combat a negative self-image.
Check it out, and let me know what you think!