You were doing just fine a while ago. Your performance at work was great, although you were under a lot of stress and you had difficulties to find a balance between your professional and personal life. Suddenly, you found yourself feeling utterly exhausted, disillusioned, unmotivated, and practically helpless.
Congratulations, you’re having a first-hand experience with the burnout syndrome!
This phenomenon was first described in the 1970s. It’s a state characterized by reduced productivity, depersonalization, and exhaustion.
We’re not talking about a simple loss of productivity. We’re referring to the feeling of being insufficient to perform, reduced self-confidence, and an unbearable state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.
The feeling of depersonalization is serious in itself. It’s manifested as an indifferent attitude not only towards work, but towards all other aspects of life as well.
So yes; this is a serious issue. If you feel like you’re on the path towards burnout or you’re already experiencing its symptoms, it’s time to take action before the condition drags you down.
How to Recognize a Burnout
Few telltale signs indicate you’re on your way to a burnout:
- The work gives you no joy at all; you even feel slightly depressed by the mere thought of work.
- You feel that every workday is a bad day.
- You’re overwhelmed by the new tasks at work.
- You feel hopeless when you think about your future in this organization.
- You experience different physical symptoms of stress, such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or even chest pain.
- You withdraw from social contact. You’re not interested in hanging out with colleagues or friends, and you prefer staying in isolation.
- You and the people who surround you notice that your behavior has changed.
- There’s a terrible feeling of inner emptiness when you’re alone.
When you don’t recognize the signs on time, the burnout syndrome will bring you to an emotional and physical collapse. In extreme cases, the situation can lead to a deep depression and even suicide.
Medical students and practicing physicians often report symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts that result from being burnout.
How to Prevent Burnout from Happening and Deal with It When It Happens
Most people have days when they feel unappreciated, overloaded, and helpless. They drag themselves out of bed and don’t feel like working. When you notice these days occur more often than usual, however, you have the first sign that you’re driving yourself to a burnout.
You don’t have to wait for the physical signs of exhaustion before you start thinking about prevention.
There are a few activities that will help you with that:
There are few ways for you to use this method, both in the prevention and the treatment of burnout.
- Whenever you accept another task at work or you’re told to do something, write how you feel about it. Getting your thoughts out on paper will give you the feeling of instant relief. It helps you identify your point of view, so you won’t pile up emotions that could cause a burnout.
- Note your ideas, too! The feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and apathy are part of the burnout. When you have ideas about professional progress and you write them down, you feel like you have a plan for your future and you’re being useful.
- Make plans! Plan the major activities every month, and then create to-do lists by them. If you notice you’re doing too much work and there’s no personal space in your plan, it’s time to say no to some of the tasks being offered to you.
- One of the reasons why burnout occurs is conflict in values. When your values are not in line with the goals and values of the organization, you don’t feel like your work is meaningful. Sometimes you don’t even know what your values are. Writing can help you identify them.
- Hey; you can even start a blog, which will inspire you to write regularly. It will help you get in touch with other people who are going through similar symptoms and feelings, and you’ll support each other.
2. Value Your Time
When you feel like you’re letting time slip away from you, it’s hard to relax, isn’t it? You have to understand something once and for all: rest is productive! When you’re fully engaged in work and you don’t have time to rest and do the things you love, you’re driving yourself towards the edge.
When you do too much exercise, your muscles burn for a week and you can’t work out when experiencing such pain. The same thing happens when you burn yourself out with too much work. You’re spending your entire mental and physical strength and you’re not doing anything to recover it.
The problem is: the effects of this burnout don’t last for just a week. If you don’t get your rest when you need it, you may push yourself in a long-term burnout situation.
- Rest! Even a 20-minute power nap will take your energy levels up!
- Do not sacrifice your healthy sleep unless it’s an absolute necessity.
- Cook your meals. You’ll enjoy the feeling that you’re doing something good for yourself.
- Go shopping, do some yoga, get a manicure, read a good book, or do whatever you feel like doing.
- Spend time in nature. It has an incredible power to recharge your batteries.
3. Make Priorities
When you’re overwhelmed with tasks daily, it’s difficult to recognize the priorities among them. You feel like everything is important, and you end up sacrificing your personal space and hobbies for the sake of completing the work on time.
In reality, there are a few types of tasks on your list:
- Important and urgent
- Important, but not urgent
- Not important, but urgent
- Not important and not urgent
If you use a simple color-coding scheme in your to-do list, you’ll easily categorize the tasks.
The important and urgent tasks have a priority. Do your best to get them done first, so you’ll minimize the stress levels throughout the rest of your day. The not important, but urgent tasks should be done next. Then, you’ll focus on the important, but not urgent tasks. As for the not important and not urgent tasks, you may as well leave them for tomorrow and have some rest.
Prevention Is Way More Effective Than Treatment
It’s possible to get out of a burnout situation when you’re already too deep in it, but it takes a lot of commitment and effort. Recognizing the signs and preventing burnout before it occurs is a much more effective way to deal with it!
Hopefully, you’ll start taking this issue more seriously and you won’t allow your work to drain you out.