Many people complain about feeling burned out on the job, but what exactly is burnout?
It isn’t simply feeling exhausted at the end of the week or having a bad day or two when you seriously question what you are doing and why you’re doing it.
Someone who felt down in the dumps for a day likely wouldn’t self-diagnose depression. Clinical depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, irritability or anxiety lasting at least two weeks.
It’s the same with burnout. Feeling overwhelmed or at the end of your rope after a bad day at work doesn’t mean you are suffering from job burnout. Burnout is a persistent state of hopelessness, resentment, failure and powerlessness that produces physical and emotional responses.
Physical symptoms include difficulty sleeping and eating and exhaustion, while emotional symptoms may include sadness, anger, indifference or a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach from the moment you arrive at work.
Beware these triggers for burnout:
A relentless, unrealistic workload with deadlines that cannot be met
A lack of control over one’s job
A sense of being under-appreciated
No clear sense about what’s expected of you and what your priorities should be
A fear of being fired
Warning signs that you could be headed for burnout include:
Anxiety at the thought of going to work
A lack of ambition Irritation around co-workers
Low energy at work
Thankfully, being on the road to burnout doesn’t mean you have to finish the trip. There are steps you can take to turn this situation around.
First, see your doctor to determine whether your health is being affected and what you need to do about it, such as addressing high blood pressure or insomnia.
Look at other aspects of your life. Are you eating properly? Drinking or smoking too much? Not getting enough exercise? Making some important lifestyle choices can make a big improvement on how you view life.
Battle burnout at work by taking a good look at your personality. Are you a perfectionist? Is that slowing you down and making you uptight and overwhelmed? Do you lack assertiveness and let people walk all over you?
If so, some self-help books or a few sessions with a counselor can help you make some positive changes.
Are you managing your time properly or getting sidetracked by tasks such as checking your e-mail and phone messages too often, or spending too much time in meetings?
Are you setting realistic career goals for yourself?
Are you in the right career?
Is it possible to transfer to another job in your organization?
Are you taking care of special relationships with family, spouses and friends, or turning into a ratty recluse?
Are you doing fun things to take your mind off work?