Do you feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy?
Do you find that you are prone to negative thinking about your job/life?
Do you find that you are harder and less sympathetic to people?
Do you find yourself getting easily irritated by small problems/colleagues?
Do you feel misunderstood or unappreciated by your co-workers?
Do you feel that you are achieving less than you should?
Do you feel tired all the time?
If you answer yes to these questions, you are at risk of severe burnout.
Psychologist Herbert Freudenberger first coined burnout in the 1970s, according to Martha Tesema, and, back then, it applied to doctors and nurses—or professions that served others. Today, burnout is widely accepted as “the consequences of severe stress” that can be experienced by anyone.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
Signs and symptoms of burnout
Feeling tired and drained most of the time
Frequent headaches or muscle pain
Change in appetite or sleep habits
Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout
Sense of failure and self-doubt
Feeling helpless, trapped and defeated
Detachment, feeling alone in the world
Loss of motivation
An increasingly cynical and negative outlook
Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout
Withdrawing from responsibilities
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
Taking out your frustrations on others
Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early
How To deal with burnout
Burnout, according to Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson is an undeniable sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? This can be an opportunity to rediscover what makes you happy and to slow down and give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal. Here are some steps to take to recover from or avoid burnout.
Remind Yourself of Your ‘Why’
According Martha Tesema, It’s easy to get lost in the hustle of every day, so taking a step back to remind yourself of why you have a passion for something is key to shifting to a more “harmonious” state. Try remembering the beginning, when you first discovered your passion, and write down the feelings you experienced then. Hold onto these, and try to find ways to spark them once more in your life.
The Magic Words: ‘No’ and Balance
While a certain level of obsessive passion can come in handy, like when starting a side-hustle, it’s essential to keep things in perspective and actively work to reign your energy in when you feel spread too thin. That’s where your trusty friend “no” comes in to help you set boundaries.
Nourish your creative side
Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work or whatever is causing your stress.
Set aside relaxation time
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.
Get plenty of sleep
Feeling tired can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool in stressful situations by getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps us think clearer, and studies have proven that too little sleep is a direct factor in burning out fast. Take time to optimize your sleeping schedule by starting small—like slowly creating an evening routine to lull you into sleep. Maybe it’s a cup of tea before bed or a chapter of a book. Whatever works for you, stick with it, and it can help you wake up with a more focused mind and a healthier outlook.
Take time off
If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence, anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other methods of recovery.
Become mindful of your thoughts
If you’re not happy with your work environment, that dissatisfaction can carry over into your personal life, damaging everything from your self-esteem to your friendships. A toxic workplace can also impact your health. The increased stress of working in a dysfunctional office can lead to job burnout, fatigue, listlessness, and depression according to Melody Wilding.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognized burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis. Toxic cultures are making people sick, according to Robert Ordever, managing director at O.C. Tanner Europe. When companies treat their people as mere workers, rather than individuals, often expecting them to more with less and with little recognition or reward, burnout becomes inevitable.
Company leaders must recognize how their organizational culture could be precipitating burnout and then take steps to create a less stressful working environment. This must include connecting employees to their organizations, championing a culture of appreciation, and ensuring employees are clear about their goals and performance. Even simple changes can make a huge difference, helping to turn the tide before the situation becomes critical.
About Gifford Thomas
I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 310,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.
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