Do you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted? Are you detached from others and cynical? Do you feel like, no matter what you do, it is not enough and you are not being effective at work? Then, you’re probably experiencing a burnout.
A burnout is defined as a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal job stressors. It is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It usually occurs when you feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and unable to meet constant demands.
When left unchecked, burnout can destroy your health, happiness, relationships and work performance. When a burnout spills into personal life, it can cause depression and/or anxiety, detachment from loved ones, and can also lead to substance abuse as a mean to cope with it.
Some careers are more subject to burnout. For example, helping professions (social workers, teachers, school principals), jobs in which you have a restricted amount of control over your work (policemen), or jobs with constant high work demands (nurses, doctors, lawyers) are more prone to burnout.
Burnout can be caused by your lifestyle.
For instance, if you:
- Work too much, put your work before everything else, and don’t allow enough time for socializing or relaxing.
- Don’t have a lot of close, supportive relationships.
- Take on too many responsibilities.
- Don’t get enough sleep.
Research suggest that having less than 6 hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout. Poor quality sleep can – and most likely will – lead to fatigue, decreased motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, and impair your cognitive functions.
Some personality traits will be more susceptible to burnout.
- Have perfectionist tendencies.
- Are pessimistic.
- Need to be in control.
- Have a high-achieving type A personality, more prone to stress.
So how can you prevent or fight burnout?
First, you need to determine if you’re experiencing it.
Here is a simple checklist of symptoms:
- Severe stress, fatigue, problems sleeping due to work
- Dreading to go to work everyday
- Worrying about work even on your free time
- Cynical or distant with your coworkers
- Feeling ineffective, unable to accomplish tasks that you’re used to
- Experiencing more physical problems such as headaches or lower back pain
If you’re experiencing several of these, it’s time to take action. Recovering from chronic stress and burnout is possible by removing or reducing the demands that are put onto you, and by replenishing your resources. There are plenty of things you can do to regain your balance and start to feel positive and hopeful again.
First of all, the best way to replenish your resources is to get more sleep. Exercising regularly will help you feel better about yourself and get better sleep as well. Yoga is also another effective way to de-stress.
Try mindfulness meditation, mindful breathing and mindful walking. Click here for more information on how to practice mindfulness.
Practice self-care and self-compassion.
Don’t hesitate to open up yourself and talk about it to people you trust.
More importantly, do not let the feeling of not having enough time stop you from doing all of this. Take some time off if needed. Go to your doctor’s and ask for a sick leave if you can.
If your burnout doesn’t get better or seems to get out of hand, seek professional help beyond support from your friends and family members.
This will sound extremely cheesy, but listen to your heart and figure out when enough is enough. If your burnout is caused by internal factors (your personality), take time to work on them. However, if it’s caused by external factors (your work), you can talk to your manager or HR about it.
Just keep in mind that you should always put your health first.