We all have days when we are less than our best. We all have mornings when we’d rather be doing almost anything else than going into work. And if we can deduce anything from the proliferation of terms like “hump day” and “Friyay” we are not alone in feeling like this!
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when we feel overwhelmed, lacking in energy, and helpless to meet the constant demands placed on us. Burnout often stems from our work whether it be our paid job or the labour we do at home and caring for children or ageing parents.
Burnout is a gradual process that can creep up on us. We may dismiss our feelings of burnout as a “bad week” at first, but they can become worse over time. Burnout reduces our productivity and saps our energy. It makes us vulnerable to illness and has a negative effect on our relationships and mood. It leaves us feeling exhausted, cynical, and inadequate.
Here are 10 signs of burnout to be on the look out for:
You are getting stuck on work thoughts when you are home
You are drinking to switch off from work
You are finding it difficult to go to sleep because of work thoughts
You are having difficulty remembering things
You are having more days of work due to sickness or just not feeling able to face it
You are getting neck pain or headaches
You are finding yourself more prone to colds and tummy bugs
You find you are making silly mistakes
You find you are caring less about your work
You have thought about quitting and finding a new job or new career
Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout as soon as possible. Think of the symptoms above as warning signs and try to change things for yourself as soon as possible. Trying to push through will only worsen the situation and could lead to break down.
Once you have recognised signs of burnout in yourself it’s important to seek support and try to minimise your stress in whatever way you can. Seeking out the help of a psychologist or attending an anti-burnout workshop (such as this one we are running) can teach you essential recovery skills.
One intervention that most people suffering with burnout find useful is “job crafting.” Job crafting involves redesigning aspects your role (at work or home) in ways that lead to satisfaction, engagement, resilience and thriving.
Job crafting can occur in three main domains: we can reduce the stressors in our roles (the boring or frustrating tasks); we can increase the healthy challenges in our roles (the meaningful and interesting tasks) and we can increase the resources available to us in our roles. This can include gaining more feedback, more social support, automating a tedious process, or learning a new skill. Job crafting can change the way we think about our work, improve our working relationships, foster positive experiences and, best of all, prevent burnout!
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