The concept of “work burnout” goes beyond the average bad week or day. To tell you the truth, very few people truly understand the full meaning of work burnout. This mild syndrome has become quite frequent among professionals that deal with a lot of stress.
Workaholics, for example, might suffer from work burnout all the time. The big problem is that like with many psychological issues, we hardly become aware of our condition. Once we do, it takes a little bit of time until we manage to successfully get out of that “zone”.
But first, let’s explore similar explanations for the “work burnout” concept.
a) Work burnout appears once one feels emotional and physical exhaustion, surrounded by the lack of motivation, and fueled by the lack of professional efficiency.
b) You develop a work burnout the moment when specific areas of your life (workload, environment, reward – or lack of -, fairness) become mismatched with your personal belief system.
Let me put it this way: whenever you’re having work burnout symptoms, you’ll going to experience a reduction in your average capacity. Note the word “experience”, as it doesn’t have the same connotation as “feeling” in this case.
As already mentioned, most of the work burnout outcomes (lack of energy, motivation, will) are often invisible to us. We’re experiencing them, but we do not perceive them in a conscious way. We do it unconsciously, and we often mismatch work burnout with tiredness.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Work Burnout – and How to Be Aware of Them
Only you can figure out whether you’re really having a work burnout or not. Be careful not to create your own reasons and excuses for not performing well. Stay objective and think about whether the symptoms that are about to follow are real or not:
a) You’re Denying Your Problems – if you’re failing to recognize problems as problems, and if you’re careless about the consequences, you’re probably in denial, a common symptom of the work burnout syndrome.
b) Sudden Lose of Interest in Work– if you’re suddenly losing your interest in your work and activities, that looks like a sign of exhaustion and overwhelm.
c) You Feel Empty Inside – feeling empty and tired of feeling this way? Maybe it’s all linked to the mismatch between your beliefs and the way you’re living your life.
e) Noticeable Behavioral Changes – if people around you recognize major changes in your behavior and you don’t, you might be suffering from a work burnout. Of course, there are more reasons for these major changes, but don’t forget about work burnout either.
f) Anxiety and Depression – lastly, anxiety and depression might be two side-effects of your emotional and physical exhaustion. If you’re feeling this way, think about whether this comes from work or other problems.
Now, take these reference points and be very objective. Do you really believe that your current job/activity is making you unfulfilled and is also burning you out?
Put it down on a piece of paper, and start asking yourself “Why is this related to work?”. If you figure out that you’re suffering from the “work burnout” syndrome, pay close to attention to the following solutions
1. Make Time for Periodic Breaks during the Day
Our human brains aren’t supposed to work non-stop, and neither are our bodies. Each of us might be put through different challenging and tiring situations. You see…it doesn’t really matter what activity you’re performing daily, what responsibilities you have, or what the circumstances are. What matters is your ability to understand the fact that work breaks are a must in your life, whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.
Now – when I say “break”, I’m also referring to your mental state. You need to stop thinking about work from time to time. You need to disconnect and do something that replenishes your mental and physical energy.
For example, you can take a walk in the park, have a nice coffee break, or you can simply stop doing what you’re doing and start doing something else. Force yourself to disconnect from the continuous thinking cycle and begin reaping the benefits of a calm mind.
2. Disconnect Yourself from the Digital World
Once you see that everything that’s digital is somehow affecting you, you’ll be able to understand why peace of mind is so rare among most of us. The digital environment is developing quite quickly; nowadays, 6-year-olds own iPhone 7. By the age of 10, they are way more tech-savvy than 30 or 40-year-olds. What does this suggest?
Well, it might suggest many things, but one of them is obvious: we’re abusing the internet, our phones, and everything that’s basically digital. Instead of abusing this aspect, try to disconnect yourself by avoiding your smart devices and by scheduling strict working hours on the web (e-mails, Facebook, etc.)
Once you break the continuous use of digital tools and apps, you’ll understand that life’s so much more beautiful even without the constant connection to technology.
3. Break the Routine
In some cases, work burnout comes from one subtle feeling: boredom. Some people can even become depressed because their daily experience brings a lot of routine. In order to protect yourself from falling into an unfulfilling cycle, you must have the courage to make some changes, and also to try new things.
Find a new hobby, create some new friends, or explore a new topic that you’ve always wanted to explore. Another idea would be to change the way you work or the environment in which you’re working.
Try a different place (if you have this option). If you don’t, start re-arranging your room, change the smell, and put some pictures on the wall. Doing new things will definitely contribute to the wellbeing of your mental state.
4. Genuinely Assess Your Present Situation
I’ve kept talking about awareness. If you’re not aware that you’re suffering from work burnout, you won’t really be able to fully solve the problem. If you are aware, you can start asking yourself the following questions:
a) What do I like to do?
b) What am I good at?
c) What makes me unhappy?
d) If there were three major changes that I’d like to create, which would I choose?
e) Am I consciously doing something that I know I shouldn’t do on a frequent basis?
f) Are my habits productive or disempowering? What habits can I cut/add?
g) What would a change feel like? (Ignore how hard that change looks like)
You can continue with different but relevant questions. The purpose is to figure out whether you’re actually doing what you’re supposed to do, or you’re just stuck with feelings of unhappiness, exhaustion, and overwhelm.
5. Work towards Maintaining a Balance
If you establish an efficient work-life balance, you’ll never feel the work burnout again. Balance basically suggests a good time management along with a good life management. In order to get into a balanced state of being, figure out what made you slip off the road in the first place.
What do you believe to have caused your work burnout? Once you understand, you’ll be able to replace different behaviors and thinking patterns with other ones, which will be more positive.
Moreover, you need to set personal and professional goals that you need to constantly pursue. Don’t forget about your social life (family, friends, spouses), and always remember that everything’s temporary and life goes on.
Work workload is never fun. It puts you through negative mental states, steals your physical energy, and creates a hole in which you continuously fall deeper and deeper. Once you’re aware of your issue, I’d suggest you commit and fix it as soon as possible. This condition is common, and the solutions are sitting right in front of your face.