Job burnout is a type of work-related stress that is a state of physical or emotion exhaustion that also involves a sense of lowered accomplishment and a loss of personal identity. While “burnout” isn’t a medical diagnosis there can be other conditions behind burnout, such as depression. People experiencing burnout often feel like they have nothing left to give and may dread getting out of bed each morning. They may even adopt a cynical outlook toward life and feel hopeless.
Anyone who is continually exposed to high levels of stress can experience burnout. Professionals in helping roles, such as first responders, doctors and nurses are especially susceptible to this health condition. Caring for children can be high stress and mothers and fathers may also experience burnout. People who are controlling, seek perfectionism, or are considered “Type A” can also be at risk of burnout.
Whatever the cause, job burnout can affect your physical and mental health. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to help you identify the signs of burnout, as well as ways to prevent it.
Signs of burnout:
- Exhaustion. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted with symptoms including headaches, stomachaches, and appetite or sleeping changes.
- Isolation. People with burnout tend to feel overwhelmed and may stop socializing and confiding in friends, family members, and co-workers.
- Escape fantasies. People with burnout may fantasize about running away or being by themselves for an extended period of time. In extreme cases, they may turn to drugs, alcohol, or food as a way to numb their emotional pain.
- Irritability. Burnout can cause people to lose their cool with friends, co-workers, and family members more easily. Coping with typical stressors like preparing for a work meeting, running errands with the kids, and tending to routine household tasks also may start to feel insurmountable.
- Frequent illnesses. Burnout, like other long-term stress, can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and insomnia. Burnout can also lead to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.
How burnout can impact your life:
- Excessive drive/ambition. It can be common for people starting a new job or undertaking a novel task to work too hard and push beyond their capabilities. Too much ambition can lead to burnout.
- Neglecting your own needs. You begin to sacrifice self-care like sleep, exercise, doctor’s appointments, and eating well.
- Withdrawal. You begin to withdraw from family and friends and social invitations to parties, movies, and dinner dates start to feel burdensome, instead of enjoyable.
- Denial. Impatience with those around you mounts and instead of taking responsibility for your behaviors, you blame others, seeing them as ineffectual, lazy, or domineering.
- Behavioral changes. Those on the road to burnout may become more aggressive and snap at colleagues or loved ones for no reason.
- Depression. Life loses its meaning and you begin to feel hopeless.
How to prevent burnout
Stress may be unavoidable, but burnout can be prevented. Following these steps may help you keep stress from getting the best of you:
- Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Perhaps you can work together to modify expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Aim to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.
- Set healthy, clear boundaries about how much work you will do outside of the office.
- Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, loved ones, or a healthcare professional, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
- Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work. This can be as simple as a brisk 20-minute walk.
- Try to protect your sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps safeguard your health.
Keep a watch on yourself and your family for signs of burnout. This is a particularly stressful time the with pandemic raging around us. Remember to take time for yourself and focus on the preventative measures that can help you come back from burnout to a more balanced and healthy life.
Bonnie Evie Gifford, https://happiful.com/10-ways-to-overcome-burnout/, October 17, 2018
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