Burnout on the Job
WHAT IS BURNOUT:
Chronic work-related stress over time can lead to job burnout. Burnout is defined as a “prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal job stressors.” Burnout is measured by symptoms in three areas: emotional exhaustion or feeling depleted, cynicism or a sense of detachment from others, and a sense of inefficacy, or not being effective at work.
Job burnout can cause emotional and physical fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and problems paying attention at work. The effects of job burnout can start to spread into your personal life outside of work. Chronic stress also contributes to medical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Stress accounts for over 60% to 80% of medical visits to the primary care doctor. When your job puts your mind and body into a constant state of stress, you can become worn out emotionally, physically, mentally. In this vulnerable state, even little problems start to feel weighty and insurmountable.
Is this Burnout? Ask yourself:
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Have you become cynical or critical at work?
• Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
• Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
• Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
• Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
• Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
• Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
• Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
• Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
SOME SIGNS OF BURNOUT:
A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.
2. Lack of Motivation
When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there's a good chance you're experiencing burnout. It may be harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to drag yourself into work every day.
3. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions
You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to.
4. Cognitive Problems
Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF JOB BURNOUT?
Ignored or unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences, including:
• Excessive stress
• A negative spillover into personal relationships or home life
• Alcohol or substance abuse
• Heart disease
• High cholesterol
• Type 2 diabetes, especially in women
• Vulnerability to illnesses
WHAT CAN DO TO FIGHT/COPE WITH BURNOUT?
1. The first step is to figure out if you are experiencing job burnout. Awareness that you are experiencing job burnout is an essential first step. Ask yourself the above questions or assess if you experience those symptoms.
2. Try to get more sleep. Getting too little sleep is a major factor in predicting burnout and a likely contributor to job burnout. Sleeping better is also an important sign that you’re recovering from burnout and ready to go back to work
3. Take breaks during the workday. Even small ones where you walk outside for a few minutes or sit and talk with a co-worker for 5 minutes about non-work related topics,
4. Put away your digital devices. Before the Blackberry/Smart phones era, leaving your work at the office was the default. That’s no longer the case. We are both psychologically and physiologically still attached. The remedy, is to actively limit your use of digital devices after hours. Place your smartphone in a basket or drawer when you arrive home so you’re not tempted to pick it up and check your email; or you might devise a rule for yourself about turning it off past 8pm. “
5. Do something interesting. Do not just focus on avoiding work or limiting your time thinking about work, do something interesting and focus on it.
6. Do cardiovascular exercise regularly. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown in studies to significantly reduce burnout symptoms in as little as 4 weeks.
7. Try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a technique that allows you to just be exactly where you are and observe without judgment.
8. Practice mindful breathing. Try a simple mindful breathing exercise, which is a form of meditation. Inhale for 4 counts of breath, and exhale for 4 counts.
9. Make time for other activities focused on self-care and self-compassion. Self-care and self-compassion is different for everyone and what you feels right can change day to day.
10. Talk about your situation with people that you trust. Talking with a trusted supervisor or mentor to explore options on how to modify work demands or achieve better work-life balance can be helpful. Many companies also have an employee assistance program which may offer confidential counseling. If things are not improving, you can treat burnout symptoms with the help of a mental health professional.
11. Don’t let the feeling of not having enough time stop you. The most common reason is that people already feel like they don’t have enough time. The paradox is that making time for yoga, meditation, additional sleep or exercise will actually give you more time.
Burnout can happen to everyone and at different times for different reasons. Burnout can impact a person physically, cognitively, behaviorally and psychologically. It can have short term and long term impacts if not treated. Remember, if you think you might be experiencing job burnout, don't ignore your symptoms. Consult your doctor or a mental health provider to identify or rule out any underlying health conditions