Understanding Job Burnout & Eight Techniques to Relieve/Prevent It

Sometimes when we have a new job, our dream job, or just killing it in our current position we get so caught up in our job performance we become workaholics. We get consumed with our workload. We take on added tasks when we know our capacity is basically maximized to demonstrate we can handle it. We go above and beyond to ensure our customers or clients are satisfied, even if that means we are answering emails or phone calls after work hours. We often work late and during weekends to prove we are committed and to show we have incredible work ethic.

Our brain is in over-drive: work mode, work mode, work mode. What happened to our personal life? Remember when you met up for a weekly dinner with your group of college friends or had time to walk the dog?  That doesn’t happen anymore. You’re always tired and have been dragging yourself to work. Headaches are becoming more frequent, and your body throbs and aches. You’ve been irritable – snapping at your co-workers and even your most prized clients.  These are a few of the symptoms and indicators that you are experiencing job burnout.

What is Job Burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to demanding work situations. Burnout can be a cumulative result of stress.

What’s the Difference Between Stress and Burnout?

Stress typically involves too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically, whereas burnout is a cycle of negative emotions, paralysis, and withdrawal, which leads to decreased interest in performing tasks.

Burnout Symptoms

  • Lack of motivation
  • Negative emotions
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Decreased satisfaction
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Frequent illness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Who is at Risk of Job Burnout?

You may be more likely to experience job burnout if[1]:

  • You lack balance between your work life and personal life because you identify strongly with your job
  • You try to be everything to everyone
  • Your job is to help others (healthcare, counseling, teaching)
  • You feel lack of control of your work

Ways to Prevent/Relief Burnout

1. Unwind

Whether you do yoga, run, cycle, read, or listen to music, take time for yourself and ensure you have some downtime.

2. Unplug

Although we view technology and the Internet as an instant way to communicate and a method to increase productivity, it also can be an added stressor. Disconnect yourself from technology and communications. Put the work phone down. Set boundaries. Respond to work emails during work hours, or set certain times in the evening to check-in. It is important to separate your work life with your personal life.

3. Do What You Love

What’s your passion? Do you play sports? Coach or volunteer? Play an instrument in a band? Family walks in the park? Whatever it may be, get up, get out, and do it!

4. Get Enough Sleep

Individuals vary in how much sleep they need to be able to function the next day. Whether it’s six hours or eight hours, ensure you are getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep leads to decreased motivation, increased stress, constant fatigue, and impairment of mental functioning.

5. Get Organized

Use a calendar, an agenda, or have a to-do list. Prioritize your tasks. This will assist with time management, and knowing what you should focus on rather than becoming overwhelmed by all the different tasks that you think you need to complete immediately.

6. It’s Okay to Say No

When you bite off more than you can chew, you over promise and under deliver. Be comfortable and be confident with saying no. Be able to justify if you’re at your maximum capacity. It won’t be beneficial for your employer for you to take on more than you can handle, as you don’t want to affect the quality or your productivity.

7. Take Breaks

Go for a quick walk around the office or job site. Go outside for a quick breath of fresh air. If you eat lunch at work, try breaking away from your desk and eat outside, or another designated area. This gives you a chance to break away from your desk or work area so your body and mind can recharge and reenergize.

8. Use Your Vacation Days

Using your vacation days or personal time doesn’t mean you’re not a hard worker. Time away from the office or job site to go on a vacation or even a staycation is beneficial for your overall well-being. It helps improve your efficiency and productivity at work, improves your mood, and helps you unwind.

Burnouts can be chronic, and very detrimental to one’s health and job performance. Prevention is key and the most effective approach for addressing job burnout. Not only do you benefit from practicing the above methods of prevention, but others around you will as well. Your co-workers, friends, parents, children, will be receiving your undivided time and attention. Relationships will be stronger, and happier. Time spent with family will be quality, with the added benefit of helping you relax, unplug, and re-set in order to bring your best work self forward when it’s time to head back to the office.


Written by Jenna Kressler | Curriculum Developer



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