Burnout is one of those things that unless you’ve experienced it, it can be hard to comprehend. If you’re a runner, there is a term called “hitting the wall” that I think may closely define what it’s like to have burnout. It’s a point where you don’t think you can go on. Your mind and body will almost refuse to work for you. Emotionally you have nothing more to give and you may swing from extremely fragile, where everything becomes monumental, to a barren, unfeeling wasteland. Burnout affects everything about you and is something you want to avoid, because it takes a while to recover from it.
Why do we get burnout?
Usually there isn’t just one thing that causes burnout, but rather it can be a series of things including:
Working overly long hours for an extended period of time – can include too much travel
Very high stress level that endures over time
Conflict within the work place
Ongoing and unresolved problems with the boss
One of the common themes with burnout is issues that extend over time without any relief. We all can handle stress and long hours, but when the issues that cause those conditions don’t improve, we need to take action or suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, with the current bad economy, these conditions are occurring at record levels. Corporate downsizing and cut backs have forced extra work load on the remaining few.
What are some things you can do to avoid burnout?
- Talk to the boss. You need to first devise a plan to take things off your plate, even if it’s temporary, that will seriously help cut down on your hours at work. Let the boss know you’re getting crispy and need their approval to reprioritize your work.
- Get physical. I know you hate to be told to exercise, but it provides all kinds of emotional and physical benefits. It really does relieve stress. You don’t have to take 3 hours out of your day to go to the gym. Walk during lunch or before work. It’s cheap and convenient.
- Get Centered. Learn to meditate. You can do it anywhere from sitting in a bathroom stall to a 5-minute meditation break right at your desk.
- Take up a hobby or other interest. When you have something completely different to do each day, just the act of shifting gears can help to shed the stress, because it puts you and your brain in a new mode.
- Change your work habits. Even though your workload may be dictated by the boss or business, you will find that when you change up a few of your work habits, it will re-energize you. If you normally schedule meetings first thing in the morning, give yourself 1 hour of open time to get ramped up, or give yourself a gap mid day.
- Get creative. Do something relaxing, like take a hot bath with some essential oils a few times a week or get a massage. Do something that makes you laugh or at least smile. I find getting on UTube and watching funny kitten videos for a few minutes a day to be wildly de-stressing; and it gives me a real boost.
- Take a mini-vacation. You may need to completely get away from work and home for an extended weekend. If you do this, you need to really get away. Don’t take work with you.
- Listen to feedback. Many times we can’t tell that we’re headed into burnout, but others can. If someone is telling you to watch yourself, you should take it seriously; and then take action.
I know of people who have pulled the plug on their career with 24 hours notice. It’s a dramatic step to take and can be a problem to your career. Even when that doesn’t happen, some people with burnout literally put their career into a death spiral, impacting their performance and damaging their personal brand. Don’t let that be you. Try to avoid burnout all the time by incorporating some of these ideas into your daily activities.
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Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients achieve their goals. Her programs cover: Career growth and enhancement, Career Change, Retirement Alternatives and Job Search Strategy. Want to discover specific career change strategies that get results? Discover how by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com