Impossible deadlines, ever-growing to-do lists, increasing workloads, demanding managers and lack of interest and enthusiasm at work are all contributing factors to people experiencing increasing levels of stress in the workplace. And, if not addressed, these high levels of stress can lead to burnout – something each and everyone of us should avoid at all costs.
Recently, I ran a seminar on how to beat the burnout blues with a group of business professionals. Here are some of the major topics we discussed – I’m sure you’ll find them helfpul.
What is burnout?
Burnout is the result of excessive and prolonged levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace which can cause mental and physical exhaustion.
We’re are seeing an increase in stress and anxiety in the workplace through boredom in what you do, through feeling unfulfilled, unmotivated and feeling like their work has no real meaning. This too, if not dealt with can cause burnout.
Which professions are susceptible?
Any person that is working in an environment that has an overwhelming amount of work, causing high levels of stress and anxiety, if not monitored can cause a person to become burned out. However I’d say that Helping Professions in particular have a higher tendency to experience burnout, due to the huge caseloads they have to manage.
This could include: Social Welfare Workers; Teachers; Medical Professionals such as Nurses/Doctors; Mental Health Workers; even Professionals working in the Ministry. All through having to work long, excessive hours with almost impossible caseloads to manage.
With the increasing number of people leaving the workforce to begin their own small businesses, these sole operators can find they are faced with an impossible workload thus feeling a loss of control over the copious demands and their work environment can cause enormous amount of job stress to
Symptoms of burnout:
While everyone reacts differently and therefore exhibits different symptoms some of the more common symptoms of burnout can include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Weight loss or gain
- Lingering colds/frequent
- Frequent headaches
- Diminished self-esteem and
- Inability to make decisions
- Feeling powerless or helpless
- Cynicism/negativity and
- Lack of interest in your work
- Sudden mood swings – easily
becoming impatient or
irritated with those around
- Becoming reliant on or
increasing your usage of
alcohol or drugs
Strategies to avoid burnout:
I think the most important thing is to develop a realistic picture of yourself and gain an awareness of what you’re feeling and why – so as to be able to develop or seek an appropriate coping strategy.
Must-do stress and burnout busting strategies :
- Establish firm and realistic goals; and stick to them. Aim to complete the most crucial projects so as not to become enslaved to an excessive workload and bogged down with trivial tasks.
- Avoid becoming the “yes” victim by learning to ask for help, or becoming more assertive and comfortable in saying “no” if asked to take on extra work by colleagues and demanding clients who continually present impossible deadlines.
- Set yourself a reasonable limit of hours for your working day and working week – and stick to it.
- Take regular ‘power’ breaks; get up; stretch; walk around; change your posture.
- Incorporate change into your routine to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Following strict schedules and performing repetitive tasks can lead to boredom, disinterest in your work, and eventually burnout. Rotate your schedule; incorporate a new task into your day; or put aside some time to develop your skill-set – anything that adds an element of change to your daily routine.
- Maintain a regime of proper nutrition and physical exercise: Exercise is an excellent way to relieve tension and stress so when scheduling your diary, block in 20-30 minutes of exercise at least three or four times per week. Increasing your fitness level can also benefit your productivity and level of awareness plus assist in avoiding other physical ailments.
- Learn to delegate and avoid temptation to do everything yourself. Train someone or outsource any daily and repetitive tasks that do not necessarily require your expertise so that you can concentrate on more important issues.
- Learn basic stress reduction techniques such as meditation or deep breathing.
- And most important – take time out for yourself and your family. Maintain an active personal and social life outside of work. Your life should not revolve solely around work, but rather follow a healthy balance that incorporates time for yourself, your friends, and your family.
If you do recognise some of the symptoms of burnout and you really feel unable to cope, or powerless to implement some of the strategies, it’s important to be willing to accept seek out the support of a professional. If increasing stress and anxiety levels are due to the fact that you feel bored and uninspired within your job then consider investing in one of our Purposeful Careers programs to reinvigorate and boost your energy levels, feelings of fulfilment and enthusiasm for your work!
Here’s to beating the burnout blues!