You’re too sleepy to work but too wired to sleep. You find that you’re losing your temper more easily, feeling unproductive and completely blocked creatively. You’re exhausted all the time, even after taking a nap and you can’t understand why. Does this sound familiar? You might be going through burnout.
What is Burnout?
According to verywellmind.com, “Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, and feelings of reduced professional ability.” While those who have existing mental health conditions might be more susceptible to burnout, it can happen to all of us. We tend to go through this as we approach deadlines, especially if we feel unable to properly manage all that’s on our plate. You might feel as though there is no work-life balance and start to feel resentment towards your job.
Left unchecked, burnout can evolve into greater issues, going as far as to manifest itself as physical illnesses. It is not uncommon to feel some amount of stress due to work but when it gets to the point where it affects your ability to function, then you need to take action.
What are the Signs?
There are some general signs that you can look out for but for some individuals, burnout might manifest in different ways. The most common signs are:
- Feelings of exhaustion no matter how much you sleep
- Inability to complete or start projects
- Feeling unfulfilled by your job
- Feeling alienated from work or coworkers
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, panic attacks or stomachaches
What Can I Do?
We all have our own unique coping mechanisms and this also applies to how we deal with burnout. If you are someone who is easily affected by stress, it is best to have a plan in place that you can immediately implement when you notice the early signs of burnout.
- Take a break: If you are unable to go on vacation then try to take a short break from the office or work. If possible, work in another space – outdoors, your favourite cafe or in a different room. You might want to also consider taking a break from work itself. Go for a walk, read a book or watch a short, funny movie. Use something that will take your mind off the project you’re working on.
- Talk about it: You would be surprised how many others within your circle might be feeling the same way. By opening up and sharing your experience you allow yourself to create a support system that can be helpful in future. If you feel as though you need additional help, reach out to a professional. There is no shame in therapy and some places of business will even offer an emotional support network for their employees.
- Understand that it is not a shortcoming: Burnout is as much a response to external elements as an allergy flare-up. It does not mean you are weak or inept if you find yourself having a hard time at work. Rather than make things worse by beating yourself up, find ways to motivate yourself. This might be through words of affirmation, reviewing some of your accomplishments or listening to motivational messages.
- Do something you enjoy: Have a spa day, treat yourself to a night out, go to a fancy restaurant, watch your favourite movie – do something that makes you feel good. Make this a regular part of your routine. Try to do at least one thing each week that is just for you. This will help you deal with burnout and lessen the chances of having another incident.
Pace yourself: Once you find that you’re getting a handle on things you might be tempted to just dive right back into work – don’t. This will only undo what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. If possible, don’t take on any additional projects until you’ve completed the most pressing ones and continue to maintain this pattern. Remember – your welling comes first because you cannot perform to the best of your ability if you aren’t functioning.
Burnout is a natural part of life but it does not have to be the end of your professional life. Once you know the signs you can take action and do what you need to overcome it.