Many of us, especially since COVID, have reached the point where we “Just don’t care” about our work. We are exhausted, uninterested, and have many of the symptoms of depression. This is a sign that we are fast approaching burnout.
Burnout is a phenomenon where you have reached the point of feeling completely empty and hopeless when it comes to your work. While this is work related, the symptoms are not limited to your work life. The feeling of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion can easily seep into other aspects of your life.
Burning out does not happen overnight, it is a gradual process. This is typically caused by constant work stress as well as feeling isolated, lacking control, and undervalued at work. Once you have reached burnout, much like depression, you feel completely helpless and uninterested in getting work done. You will also feel less confident in any work you do get done which can make this worse.
Fortunately, burnout is not unstoppable or irreversible. Here are some helpful ways you can prevent and fight against workplace burnout.
Reach Out for Help
If you are feeling like you are on the path to burnout, or that you are already there, an extremely helpful thing you can do is reach out to other people. You should reach out to your HR department and/or your manager and let them know what is going on. It is everyone’s best interest to keep employees happy and healthy so hopefully they will be able to help manage some of the issues that are causing you to burnout.
Aside from reaching out to your employer, you should also reach out to the people around you. You can talk with your friends at work, or try making new friends at work who you can vent with. Friends and family outside the work place can also be extremely helpful in venting without having to expose your true feelings about certain things within the organization.
Physical health plays an extremely important role in our mental health. Making sure you are getting the proper nutrition in your diet can be the first step to health. Along with diet, a regular sleep schedule with full nights of sleep is critical. Finally, getting adequate daily exercise, even if you just go for a walk at lunch, can have a huge impact on your mood as well as your physical health.
Reducing stress can be a difficult one, especially if you are already burnt out. No two people are going to be stressing about the same thing so saying exactly how to reduce stress is not possible. Some common tips are to make sure you are taking regular breaks from work, make sure you are not working extreme hours, and when you are not working you should fully disconnect. Having constant email and Teams messages to your phone is not going to help you decompress after the work day.
If you are in the early stages of burnout and are the type of worker who doesn’t use their vacation time, a getaway might help. People who do not use their vacation time seem to forget that this is literally part of their compensation package so not taking it is leaving money on the table. While a vacation may help ease some stress and take your mind off work, many people do not have the luxury of paid time off so this is not an option. If you are already past the point of no return in burnout, a week-long vacation is probably not going to do much good once you return to work the following Monday.
An extreme but sometimes necessary resolution to burnout is sometimes to just walk away. Burnout is literally caused by stresses and uncontrollable factors in your work place, yet it affects all aspects of your life so sometimes the only option is to remove that job from the equation. It is rare that working individuals can walk away from their job with no alternative but in some cases that is an option. In more realistic circumstances, if you are at the point where you are ready to walk out, you should already be looking for a new job so you can leave and hopefully move on to a more fulfilling career.
Burnout is a syndrome caused by work that can affect your life outside of the 9 to 5. It can be debilitating and sometimes harm your career if you are not able to cope. It is important to recognize this early and do everything possible to prevent it from getting to the point of no return.