Are you suffering from Burnout?
Burnout is a real thing and can happen to anyone. Does the thought of going to work on Monday morning leave you already feeling exhausted and frazzled by Sunday at noon? Does your 8 hour workday feel like you’ve been battling in the trenches for 8 days straight? Are you finding it hard to get motivated once you are actually at work?
You might shrug it off as just going through a rough patch or a busy time – but you could be suffering from burnout! Burnout can manifest itself differently for different people, so there isn’t one centralized definition. However, in May 2019, the World Health Organization updated and added more detail to their entry on burnout. Previously defined only as a “state of vital exhaustion,” it’s now classified as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
It’s important to note that burnout is specifically work-related and is characterized by:
- A sense of exhaustion or depletion
- Mental distance from or negativity or cynicism about work
- Decreased effectiveness at work
If you’ve ever heard the saying you can’t pour from an empty cup – that’s a great analogy for burnout – you have nothing left in the cup or proverbial gas tank to accomplish anything.
So we have the definition, but what are the actual signs of burnout?
- You aren’t excited about work anymore. Projects that you used to get excited, energized about, or make you feel fulfilled seem boring or a chore. You aren’t getting satisfaction from your work.
- You are going through the motions. You have stopped putting in any effort or caring. You are doing the bare minimum to get by.
- Your performance is going downhill. You are making errors you wouldn’t normally make or are missing deadlines that used to be easy to meet. You just want to get the task done; you don’t care if it’s done to your usual standards.
- You are exhausted – all the time. You feel physically and emotionally depleted and drained. Even getting out of bed to go to work is a challenge.
- You start having physical ailments. The symptoms can be different for everyone, but can include insomnia, chest pain, headaches, getting sick more often, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and even GI issues.
What to do if you are suffering from burnout.
Once you’ve come to the realization that you are suffering from burnout, what do you do? The simplest and easiest step is to take some time off, but that alone won’t solve the issue – it just gives you a little breathing room. Most often you’ll need to make a more significant change like changing your attitude or changing your workload or work situation.
Often times you can recognize negative habits and thought patterns and work to stop them when they happen. If you associate with being a perfectionist, you are more likely to suffer from burnout.
Changing your work situation can have a few different options. The easiest might be adjusting your workload. If you have too much on your place, burnout can happen. Talk to your boss to see if you can lighten your load. If it’s the job or company itself, it might be time for a change. Moving to a different department and doing something different for the same company could make a big difference. Otherwise, it might be time to look for a new job elsewhere.
Burnout is hard to recognize, and it doesn’t go away on its own. Identifying and then addressing burnout requires some conscious thought and effort and the only one who can ultimately fix it is you.