Why do we burnout?
Burnout occurs when we believe we have no control over our workflow, lack recognition, perform repetitive or monotonous tasks or work in a chaotic work environment. Personalities play into job burnout too, so pay close attention if you try to be too many things to too many people, look at the glass half empty, can’t set boundaries, seek perfection or fail to delegate. Julie says job burnout can stem from your work environment, your personality or both.
According to Julie, people in human services professions fair the worse when it comes to job burnout. Doctors, nurses, social workers, EMTs, customer service reps and police officers all have jobs involving high stress and emotional involvement and sometimes the intervention they provide doesn’t have a positive outcome. “People tend to not completely turn off the switch, so these professions in particular require alone time and social support networks to re-charge the battery,” explains Julie.
Ignoring the problem
If left for too long, burnout can lead to depression with symptoms of hopelessness, low motivation, lack of focus and insomnia. And, when it comes to coping strategies for burnout, some people turn to substance abuse and high-risk behaviors. Living in a stressful world can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity and autoimmune disease—in addition to negatively impacting one’s home life.
- Are you frustrated or cynical about work?
- Do you lack motivation both at home and at work?
- Do your thoughts revolve around your job and the stress it brings?
- Is your health and self-care declining?
- Are you having trouble sleeping at night?
- Have your eating habits changed (eating too little or too much)?
- Do you have unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical problems?
- Have you withdrawn from family and friends?
Avoid the crash and burn
To get a grip on job burnout, follow Julie’s sage advice:
- Start your day by doing something positive. Journal about all the good things in your life, meditate or practice deep breathing.
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise every chance you get. Exercise stimulates endorphins which create a positive burst in mood.
- Set boundaries. You’re allowed to say no and not feel guilty about it. Without making a personal commitment, suggest an alternative to the addition of more responsibilities on your plate.
- Turn it off. “Technology breaks are so important,” says Julie. Avoid eating lunch while reading emails and don’t check your email before bed.
- Change it up. Learn something new outside of work or something that will benefit work. Take a Spanish course, enroll in a pottery class or learn how to meditate. “Just change your perspective,” says Julie.
- Become part of the solution, not the problem. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your job description. If you’re tired of the status quo, suggest new tasks or ways that you can learn something new. If your job is becoming unmanageable, you might benefit from mentoring or job sharing.
- Take time off. “Make sure that when on vacation, you’re totally unplugged,” says Julie. To avoid the back-to-work blues, take an extra day off to review unanswered emails.
“Sometimes it helps to write down all the good things about your job,” says Julie. Taking stock in yourself and your job may shed a light otherwise not known.
By: Anne Gill