Burnout is one of the most debilitating disorders professionals can face. It’s a sneak attack on your mental health that slowly creeps up on you. It can strike anyone in the workplace and can be a challenging condition to treat.
And adding the reality of a global pandemic only amplifies the damage.
Know the signs.
Common symptoms of professional burnout include:
- Bad work attitude
- Low energy or motivation
- Frequent absence from work
- General mental “numbness” or lack of will
- Physical issues such as headaches, illness, and muscle aches
- Easily Irritated by co-workers
- Detachment emotionally
- Blaming others for your mistakes
- Constantly thinking of quitting
What’s the difference between everyday stress and burnout?
Stress and burnout are a lot alike, but job stress is generally short-term. When you feel like work is out of control, stress makes an appearance. Once the situation changes, the pressure usually goes away.
Burnout happens over a more extended time. You have feelings of disconnect, hopelessness, and lack of purpose.
In extreme situations, it’s best to consult a mental health pro. But in its early stages, you can also take steps to help yourself.
Here are a few ways to prevent and manage professional burnout.
Decrease sources of stress.
Burnout often stems from a combination of workload and stress. Your stress is directly proportional to personality traits that determine how you perceive and treat other people. When you feel pressured and overworked, you can become incapable of enjoying your job. Stressing out about work is also counterproductive since it can hinder your creativity and inhibit your productivity. If you can remove the source or decrease stress on the job, burnout can become more manageable.
Change is good.
If you’ve been working on a long project, switching to something different or taking a break can help. Vacations, changing assignments for a short time, or having a co-worker handle the load are ways to combat an extended task. Sometimes the injection of a fun project can also help break up the routine.
Sometimes, all you need is a good laugh.
When trying to prevent professional burnout, you should always keep in mind that attitude counts. Not only should you maintain a positive attitude, but you can use humor and fun as secret weapons. Corporate environments sometimes create the feeling that humor is unprofessional, but laughter has proven physiological benefits. You can withstand the most challenging tasks if you’re having fun doing it.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Smoking, drinking, junk food, caffeine, and other substance abuse are common culprits of burnout in professionals. While quitting bad habits is always a good idea, exercise is an even better way to help prevent burnout. It creates a sense of physically feeling good.
When you exercise regularly, your energy and productivity tend to increase. The side effect of regular exercise is better sleeping. Both have proven physiological benefits and can give your body the endurance to handle mental stress.
If all else fails, get help.
Nothing helps your perspective like another opinion. Sometimes in the stress of the moment, you tend to get biased or close-minded. If you have a trusted friend, co-worker or mentor, seek their counsel. If you feel totally out of control, it may be time to seek professional counseling. The main thing is to deal with the situation quickly and directly.
Manage what you can and seek help when you need it.
Learning the signs of professional burnout can help you recognize the need for change and a healthier work experience. Remember that you’re not alone in your battle.