Are you experiencing excessive stress at your job? Overworking yourself to get your job done? This could possibly be more than your typical case of stress; it could be burnout. “Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and value of your work” (mayoclinic.com). Although burnout and stress are related, they are actually different. Stress involves many sources of pressure that demand too much of you, but knowing you can overcome this situation. Burnout, however, is more like a cycle of withdrawal, disengagement, or negative feelings.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, money, the workplace, and family responsibilities are the three major sources of stress among U.S. adults. Numerous factors that cause job burnout include:
- Lack of control. Inability to influence decisions about your job such as your schedule or workload.
- Unclear job expectations. Uncertain about what your boss or others at work expect, which can make an employee uncomfortable.
- Work-life balance. Not being able to participate in activities outside of work mainly because work takes most of your time.
- Poor job fit. Incompatibility between the employee and the tasks associated with the job. Since the job doesn’t fit your skills or interests, this could make for a stressful workplace.
- Mismatch in values. The employer’s values and your personal values don’t align which could be a source of conflict.
While many individuals may have experienced one or more of these factors, you can pinpoint burnout by its many symptoms. Some of these physical symptoms include irritability towards workers or clients, lack of energy or feeling drained constantly, changes in sleeping patterns, trouble getting to work or getting started at work, lack of satisfaction, appetite changes including significant weight loss, and forgetfulness.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, the best thing to do is to reassess your situation and make some changes to overcome burnout, and become a healthier and more positive you. Don’t ignore these symptoms or your body. Not acting after recognizing burnout could lead to grave consequences such as heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, depression, or even strokes. Some ways to combat burnout include:
- Engaging in positive relationships. Surround yourself with positive family and friends to stop worrying about what’s burning you out. Develop friendships with co-workers to help relieve the stress you’re feeling at work.
- Take breaks throughout the day. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or you hit a brick wall at work, it’s best to take a break to collect your thoughts. After finishing a project at work, if possible, try to take a weekend off to relieve stress.
- Get more sleep. Try to get at least 7-8 hours a sleep a night. It might be difficult to do this especially if you haven’t been having issues, but you’ll have to find a rhythm to get into since it’s what your body needs.
- Eating. Even if you have no appetite, try to get some fuel into your body. Try to stay away from snacks and other junk food.
- Set goals. This can keep your thoughts and tasks organized. Use an app or a planner so you can see what needs to be done and what the outcome will be.
Burnout can occur in anyone who feels overwhelmed and extremely stressed, but the best thing to do is to identify it and make the necessary changes to fight it. Once you overcome burnout, find ways to prevent it. Try not to overwork yourself or spread yourself too thin. Also, try to stay involved in positive activities outside of your job to maintain a work-life balance. Remember that your health is more important than anything, so always take care of yourself first.