If you’re sitting at work and feel like you’re just going through the motions, then you might be hitting burnout. Just being present isn’t enough to have a fulfilling career, and if you spend more time daydreaming than you do being productive, then that’s a sign that you’re heading for workplace burnout. This is especially true if you’re in a role that you used to enjoy and get pleasure from.
Burnout is not rare and is largely a result of stress that causes both physical and emotional exhaustion. One of the biggest problems with burnout in the workplace is that it becomes all too easy for it to spread into every other area of your life. Burnout is also more likely if you’re coming straight from the country life to the hustle and bustle of the big city, so it’s important that you learn what it is, how to recognize it, and how to tackle it.
What is Workplace Burnout?
When you have any kind of problem at work that is not going to be resolved, then the stress will start to mount. That stress will continue to build unless you tackle it proactively, but in many workplaces this can be a challenge. Excessive workloads, a lack of control over your future goals, or even just toxic coworkers can all take their toll, and the end result will be the three main results of workplace burnout. These are:
- A lack of energy
- A lack of enthusiasm
- A drop in confidence and your ability to get the work done
If you are experiencing even just one of these symptoms, then you may already be suffering from burnout without realizing it, and you’re not alone. More Americans are suffering from burnout than ever. You don’t need to have all three symptoms at once. Even just feeling demoralized by the direction that your department or employer is heading can be a sign of burnout, and the faster that you recognize the problem, the quicker you may be able to resolve it.
Causes and Symptoms
The two main causes of workplace burnout are having too big a workload, and not feeling appreciated for doing what you do. These are not the only causes of burnout, but they are certainly the most common. You might also just feel bored and underwhelmed, which can be terrifying if you’re just entering a new career only to find that it’s not for you. Here are some of the most common signs of burnout, and knowing how to recognize them could make it easier to understand when your burnout has reached tipping point.
- Increased levels of nervousness
- Mental and physical exhaustion
- A drop in productivity
- Growing frustration
- Health issues
- Always feeling overwhelmed
- Growing resentment in your colleagues or employer
- Uncontrollable feeling of helplessness
- Feeling that you are only working because you have to
Knowing the signs of burnout will make it much easier to tackle them. You will have a wide range of options to consider when it comes to combating workplace burnout, but whichever you decide to do, make sure that you plan and prepare for your next steps.
Tips and Plans for Coping with Burnout
There are a number of ways that you can address burnout, and they don’t all require you to start typing up your resignation letter. There are three main areas to consider when it comes to identifying your next steps. They are:
- Changing your lifestyle
- Making changes to your job
- Addressing your own attitude
Changing your Lifestyle
If you think that you might be struggling with workplace burnout, then you should start to tackle it by looking at your current lifestyle. How you look after yourself can have a major impact on how well you cope with your work. Your lifestyle is vital to improve your work mentality, so if burnout is starting to affect you, then it might be time to make some changes.
- Get Physical: The more that you look after your body, the easier it will be to cope with high workloads or feelings of dissatisfaction. That means making sure that you get a good night’s sleep, doing at least thirty minutes of even light exercise every day, and addressing your diet. You don’t need to make huge changes to the way that you live. Establish a good sleep schedule, and consider just taking a thirty-minute walk every day. Sometimes, even just knowing that you have made that personal effort will mean that you return to work feeling much more positive and ready to tackle the day.
- Socialize more: A lot of our mental health is based around our interactions with others. If you spend all day in an unfulfilling job and then go home alone, you’re only going to dwell on your lack of satisfaction. Make sure that you schedule time with the people that you love. Whether that’s friends or family will depend on you, but just being surrounded by the people that do appreciate you will make it far easier to cope with a workplace that doesn’t.
- Have a hobby: If a lack of social life is difficult due to geography or time, then having a hobby can be vastly beneficial. If you don’t yet have a hobby, then it might be time to start one. They can be a big boost to your positive mental health because they give you something to focus on that isn’t work-related. Whether it’s a new sport (great for your physical health as well your mental health), signing up for a local art class, or even just joining an online book club, you might find that having something outside of work to look forward to will make it much easier to cope with the stresses of the workplace.
- Take smarter vacations: Most people save up their vacation time and splurge it all in one two week extravaganza. While that sounds brilliant, it also means that you then have to wait a whole year before you can have another break. Remember, you don’t need to take all of your vacation time in one go. It might be worth spreading it out so that you can enjoy the occasional long weekend, or even just spend a day pottering around the house instead of dealing with toxic colleagues.
- Just relax: It’s not the easiest thing to do, but just taking even 15-minutes a day to do absolutely nothing can be amazing for your productivity and energy levels. Allocate some time for you. Let the kids fend for themselves for 15 minutes, and ignore calls for attention from your partner. You could take that time to meditate, read, write, or close your eyes and rest. Clear your mind, and you’ll be far better able to return to your tasks with renewed energy and focus. Doing this first thing in the morning is usually the best option, but you can tailor your relaxation time to wherever your schedule allows, and if it’s in the middle of the afternoon or late at night, you’ll be able to feel the benefits.
Changing Your Job
This isn’t all about quitting the job that’s causing you burnout. It could be that your current position isn’t all negative, and you might just need to to make some changes to your areas of responsibility. If you enjoy large parts of your current role, then there are some things that you can do that might mean you can stay with the same employer without causing that undue stress that you’re currently facing.
- Talk to your manager: This should always be your first step. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, then suggest to your manager that you might be able to do better work if you are able to focus more completely on fewer tasks. If you’re not feeling challenged enough, then you should highlight that issue as well. Not many managers will refuse to give you more responsibility. Stay positive throughout your interactions with your boss. You’re not there to complain, you’re there to make your work (and their business) more effective.
- Be clear about your role: If you’re feeling lost about what exactly your responsibilities or what level of work is expected of you, then burnout will come due to frustration and stress. This is far more common in those workplaces where you have to report to more than one supervisor or manager. Crossed purposes and missed priorities will not do anyone’s stress levels any good, so make sure that if there are miscommunications about your priorities and responsibilities that you bring the problem up as soon as possible.
Changing your Attitude
How you view your work is going to play a major part in your burnout. Often, you can tackle your workplace burnout by simply making some attitude adjustments.
- Perfection not guaranteed: You are allowed to let things slide on occasion. If you normally produce high-quality work that excels, it can start to take its toll if the level is too high. Delegation can be a good way to tackle this problem of perfectionism.
- Talk: Sometimes, just talking about your frustrations can be beneficial. Talk to friends, family, or even professionals about the negative feelings that you are experiencing at work.
- Work on stress: It might be worth looking at available stress management courses in your area. You will learn a lot of tips and tricks for dealing with stress and frustration, and you will be able to integrate them into both your work and home life.
Alternative Methods for Dealing with Burnout
Some of the most common ways of dealing with burnout are the ones that you should be looking at. These are the methods that are usually used to tackle the negativity of unsatisfying, demoralizing, or tedious workloads.
- Identify the source: It’s vital that you can identify exactly what the problem is. The more that you know about what’s causing your burnout, the easier it will be to address it. You’ll have to learn different methods for coping with toxic colleagues than you would for being overburdened by your workload.
Find a New Job
Of course, this is the step that most people immediately opt for when burnout strikes. It’s easy to see why. It can be very satisfying to walk out of the stressful workplace knowing that you never have to return. The trick is making sure that you have a plan.
If you’re planning to quit, it is often wise to have another job lined up, but that will mean knowing what you’re looking for. You might need to change career entirely, or transition into a related but different role.
Remember, you do have options. If you have been employed for a long time in (for example) the HR department of a large company, then you will have transferable skills that will be sought after in other positions and companies.
You could even take time and add to your education levels. For those that have quit the police force, then you could look at taking an online police studies degree and making the transition to law enforcement consulting. Look at your skill set and look for alternative options. Never just walk out of work without a plan, as this will usually just add to your stress levels.
No employer wants their staff to suffer from burnout. That’s because it means that there is a problem with their business, and that will always be a bottleneck for both productivity and profit generation. If you’re not sure what is causing you burnout, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you happy with your employer?
- Are you content with your role and responsibilities?
- Is there a chance of career development?
- Are you being the best version of yourself?
- Are you still interested in your career choice?
Sometimes, we don’t even know that we are experiencing burnout. It can sneak up on you and really take you by surprise. The more that you learn about the signs and symptoms of burnout, the quicker you’ll be able to tackle them. Learn the warning signs, and you’ll be in a much better position to make the changes that can transform your life.