How to avoid Job Burnout
You’ve officially reached the half-way mark but that Summer break seems leap years away and getting up to go to work every day has become a major chore. You’ve become increasingly cynical at work and things that you ordinarily let fly now really irritate you. Headaches plague you and your work satisfaction has hit ground zero. If this all sounds very familiar, you might be experiencing ‘job burnout’. Note that these symptoms may also be caused by depression or other mental illness and should not be ignored. Either way, such symptoms can have serious consequences and seeking professional help a must.
Job burnout is a relatively new concept, first noted in 1974 by Hebert Freudenberger and likely a result of the modern workings of the world and increased demands and expectations of staff by workplaces. Caused by a number of factors, namely chronic stress, the World Health Organisation define it last month as; “…a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy”.
Not surprisingly, job burnout is more likely to occur when one lacks proper work life balance. When a job consumes you so much that you have little or no time for friends and family, you are more likely to build resentment towards the job, your employer or your workplace. It is important to set boundaries around your work and the time you are willing to commit to it. Being clear and upfront with your employer about fair workloads and resources may also help you feel more in control and less stressed.
Having a sense of identity away from work may also help you feel less consumed and regain a sense of purpose and enjoyment away from work. Taking time to keep active, social and do things you enjoy supersede impressing your boss. Having a mantra like “I work to live; not I live to work” may help you keep things in perspective.
What to do if you have Job Burnout
The first step is to recognise that you don’t have to live with this level of daily dissatisfaction. The next step is to start a conversation about how you are feeling with your manager to resolve the core issues that may be contributing to your stress. If you work with people you trust, it may also help to share your feelings with a colleague; if not seek the support of loved ones and give yourself a pat on the back for having the strength to take control of your life. Your work may also offer employee assistant programs; take advantage of these services, they are there for a reason. Taking time to explore all of your work options to assess if the job or industry you are in, suits your personality or lifestyle, may inspire you to make a change, or offer the clarity you are seeking.
Don’t underestimate the importance of work-life balance; part of the healing process will be regaining what you may feel has been lost along the way. Making time for exercise is key, as is a healthy diet, adequate sleep and time spent with friends and family. All good for the mind and soul.
If you are in the thick of job burnout and don’t know what to do next, talking to a psychologist can help manage stress related symptoms and provide the perspective you need to make positive steps forward. Check out our team of Clinical Psychologists here.