Work Balance


Heading Toward Burnout

Work advice

Are you fearful of your work shift? Do you view work as a chore? Do you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet your work demands? You may be heading straight for burnout if that is the case.

Over time, burnout can have a devastating effect. You have become exhausted, cynical, and frustrated because the job that you once loved is now a chore. No matter how hard you try, you are unable to alter it. After experiencing burnout, it is difficult to not have a lingering feeling of it. Paying attention to how you feel about your job is critical, as it can help you determine if you are experiencing a higher than normal stress level and avoid minimized negative reactions.

Knowing the difference between burnout and stress is important. Despite feeling stressed, it is possible to maintain an optimistic outlook. Waking up a less tense person can be achieved by using healthy coping skills to manage your stress. There is no hope for those suffering from burnout, as their outlook is bleak and their energy is low, with no sign of relief in sight.

Stress can be reduced overnight, but once you are burnt out, that is where you remain, since burnout is not something you can escape from as easily as stress.

What caused this to happen?

Questioning "How could this have happened to me?" if you are feeling burnt out. What is the matter with me? Shift your focus away from yourself for a while. It is not necessarily about you. "The individual's personality makeup is not as much of a determinant of the incidence of burnout as the structure of the job and work organization is ultimately." Phew! (Cary Cherniss, Job Stress in the Human Services) In "The Truth About Burnout", Maslach and Leiter propose a potential explanation for burnout: "When there is an ongoing discrepancy between what the job requires of you and what it gives you in return."

Burnout does not necessarily have to be the result of a high stress job. In his book "Practicing Safe Stress," Mark Gorkin describes burnout as being "equally dangerous" to chronic boredom and the lack of opportunity to feel underutilized or undervalued at work, or to stretch one's mental and physical abilities in a meaningful way. Gradually, a state such as this can cause smoldering anger, depression, or burnout, similar to the effects of out-of-control overwork.

Though your work environment may be contributing to your burnout, you also have a part to play. Do you usually take on extra work? Are you staying late, helping out your co-workers, and not taking your much-needed vacation time? Begin by saying "No" more often and, more importantly, strive to create a balance between work and personal life.

If you find yourself frequently feeling unhappy, exhausted, physically and emotionally drained, and empty at work, it may be time to reassess your job. To avoid full burnout, you must be aware of yourself and catch it early on. If you find that you no longer take pleasure or find satisfaction in your job, it's time to STOP and re-evaluate!

In "High Octane Women", Dr. Carter encourages you to begin with a weekend of complete rest and rejuvenation. If you wake up on Monday feeling tired and dreading your day, you are on the path to burnout. If, after two weeks away, you are still feeling tired and dreading your shift, what would you do? My friend, you are burnt out and need to make some lifestyle changes.

If you are at risk of burnout or already experiencing it, here are some simple suggestions:

Reaffirm your commitment to your job

 Consider taking some new classes related to your field.

Refresh your office.

Peruse books pertinent to your career aspirations and convene with like-minded individuals.

Contemplate advancement or relocation.

Revitalize yourself and your life.

Find something you are passionate about, such as taking a yoga, kickboxing, or cooking class - that could be your hobby!

Fill yourself with positive energy to energize yourself. Return to yourself all that you put forth in a day's work.

If you are living a fun and exciting life outside of work, this can translate into a positive attitude at your job, even if it is not the most desirable situation.

If, after trying the above two steps, you still feel no ZEST for your job, then it is time to consider other options.

Take a fresh look at your job or role.

Do you think this is the right job for you?

What is the right profession?

Do you feel like there is something much deeper going on for you?

For whatever reason, it may have been a great fit once, but it is no longer.

Do you work with someone whose attitude affects the morale of the entire department negatively? Are you the sour person?

In her book, "The Joy of Burnout", Dr. Dina Glouberman provides a unique description of burnout, despite its negative connotation:

Burnout can be so transformative that it can be seen as a sign of the need for a new way of life, rather than a sign of failure. "Burnout is, in fact, possibly the most beneficial event to have occurred to us."

I am headed in a new direction. A fresh start. It is all yours to take. Take it and move ahead.


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