Even if you’re working the job of your dreams, you’re not immune to burnout. In fact, the harder you work and the more motivated you are to succeed, the easier it will all get overwhelming. And that way, you risk suffering from burnout.
What is burnout?
Burnout refers to an extended period when a person experiences exhaustion and lack of interest in their life. As a result, their job performance declines and they suffer from consequences of chronic stress.
When left unchecked, burnout can seriously affect your health, happiness, relationships with other people and job performance. That’s why you need to catch the signs of burnout quickly and start dealing with the problem early on.
Here are 9 signs to which you should be paying attention and 6 tips to help you avoid burnout.
1. Negative emotions
If you catch yourself feeling a lot of negative emotions or being much more pessimistic than you’re used to, you might be experiencing burnout. Does it feel that whatever you’re doing doesn’t matter? Or perhaps you are simply disillusioned with everything in your life?
It’s normal to experience negative emotions from time to time, but pay attention to yourself to spot the moment when these emotions become unusual for you.
Feeling exhausted when you wake up and go to sleep is a clear sign of burnout. Remember that exhaustion can be physical, but also emotional or mental. If you find yourself being completely spent more often than usual, consider it a serious sign of possible burnout.
3. Lack of motivation
Another sign of burnout is when you stop feeling enthusiastic about anything in your life or no longer have the internal motivation to work. If it’s harder than ever to get going in the morning and drag yourself to work every single day, you might be experiencing symptoms of burnout.
4. Cognitive problems
Chronic stress that comes as part of burnout often interferes with our ability to focus. When you’re stressed, your attention may narrow to concentrate on the negative element you perceive as a threat.
That type of attention helps us to deal with the problem at hand, but our bodies are not designed to handle the stress that lasts longer than short bursts. When that happens, stress prevents people from solving problems or making decisions.
5. Interpersonal troubles
If you notice that many of your relationships are becoming strained and unsatisfying, that might be a sign of burnout. Are you having more conflicts with people? Are you getting into arguments more frequently? Or perhaps you withdraw, spending less time talking to your coworkers and family members?
If you’re physically among people but find yourself tuned out, that’s a serious sign of burnout.
6. Unhealthy habits
In some people, burnout surfaces as unhealthy coping strategies that range from drinking and smoking to eating junk food, not eating enough, or not getting enough sleep.
Another serious issue is self-medication – especially if sleep troubles lead you to rely too much on sleeping pills. If unhealthy habits are occupying a lot of space in your life, you might be suffering from burnout.
7. Constantly thinking about work
People who suffer from burnout often find themselves preoccupied with their work even when they’re not working. They just can’t control it and continue to expand mental energy mulling over their job.
If your work is interfering with your ability to recover from daily stresses and you keep on thinking about your tasks, it might be a sign of burnout.
8. Health problems
Burnout is linked to chronic stress, and chronic stress brings out serious health problems over a long period. These problems range from heart diseases and digestive issues to depression and obesity.
Look back over the years of your professional life to check whether the appearance of recent health problems has anything to do with your work.
9. Decreased satisfaction from life
Finally, those who suffer from burnout tend to feel less happy and satisfied with their careers and life in general. If you feel stuck and dissatisfied in your life, but you’re not able to pinpoint the reason for that feeling, you might be suffering from burnout.
As you can see, burnout is a serious condition that professionals should avoid at all cost. But how to keep your mental state in check and make sure that you have a healthy relationship with your work?
Here are 6 tips to help you deal with burnout effectively:
- Relax seriously – schedule relaxation. Take up a habit that helps you relax. It can be listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk, or meditation. Consider which activities bring you most relaxation and designate specific times for them. Don’t treat relaxation as a hole in your schedule, but as one of the important tasks to be done during the day.
- Have a rich life outside of work – find new hobbies or activities you are passionate about. It might be a new sport, volunteering in the community, or a hobby – the point is that it needs to be engaging and get you going. Together with relaxation, engaging in your hobby will allow you to turn off from work and find meaning in life in many different places.
- Dare to unplug – that one might be hard in today’s profusion of communication technologies, but while they surely promote productivity, they also lead to higher work stress. Don’t allow work to enter into your family time, relaxation, and other social activities. Turn off your work cell phone at dinner and delegate specific times to check your email. You don’t need to be “on” all the time.
- Get plenty of sleep – recent research indicates that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night constitutes a major risk factor for burnout. Poor sleep has a negative effect on your job performance, leads to fatigue, decreases your motivation and in general makes you more sensitive to stressful events. So make sure to get plenty of sleep each night and cultivate your mental health.
- Organize – professionals who suffer from burnout often spend a lot of time worrying that they will forget to do something. Clear your head and get organized. Create a to-do list and prioritize your tasks. That way, you won’t have to keep thinking about things because you’ll have a sophisticated system in place to remind you about them.
- Be mindful – stay attuned to the state of your body and mind. Look for physical signs that indicate you might be under too much stress. Anything like more headaches, a stiff neck or tight shoulders can be a sign.
Even if you’re passionate about your job, burnout can still get the better of you.
Consider getting professional help if the issues you’re struggling with are becoming severe. Ask your family and friends for support, but also talk with a psychologist who will help you deal with burnout.