We’ve all been there: caught in the loop of working to the point of exhaustion. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember how it escalated to this point. Burnout has become so ubiquitous the World Health Organization has classified it as an “occupational phenomenon.” Before you feel complete burnout, learn to identify the warning signs:
If you start feeling one or more of these symptoms, it might be time to reevaluate your work boundaries and lifestyle. Although we frequently think of high workload when it comes to burnout, it’s really only one of six elements. Control, reward, fairness, community and values are the other five. Working too much leads to less socialization and relaxation time, inhibiting your ability to recharge. Lack of supportive relationships and not getting enough personal help are also contributing factors. Certain personalities are more a vulnerable: including Type-A, overachieving or perfectionist personalities.
Your body is designed to recharge and restore itself. When you’re starting to feel the burnout, it is more important than ever to make positive lifestyle choices and practice self-care. For example: the average adult requires between seven to nine hours of sleep. Some may require more or less depending on that person and their immediate need. This is critical: not only to recover from burnout, but also to stay healthy and boost your immune system.
Other healthy lifestyle choices like eating healthy, small meals throughout the day and getting at least 20-30 minutes of outdoor time/exercise also aid in restoring your energy. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as you can, as these substances can affect your mood and energy levels. Different personalities also require different types of self care. For an extrovert, being around friends is a good recharge method, whereas introverts refill their cup with much needed alone time.
As an employee, there are a few things you can do to regain control of stress. An article posted in helpguide.org suggests following the three “R’s”: recognize, reverse, and resilience. Recognition is the most critical step and involves a level of self-awareness. If you are prone to feeling burnout (or even if you think you’re not), recognize the warning signs before it hits you at full impact. Reverse the damage by seeking support, both on and off the job, and taking immediate steps to manage stress. Make friends at work that can support and relate to you, and turn to those closest to you in your personal life. Lastly, build resilience by taking care of your emotional and physical health. Follow healthy lifestyle habits, and don’t be afraid to seek help for your emotional and psychological needs. Take time off work when needed. Sometimes the primary source of burnout comes from working in an ill-fitting position. Your skill set, inherent talents and personality determine which job you’ll thrive best in. Robert L. Bogue, co-author of “Extinguishing Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery” explains the paradigm of operating within your natural state: “When you’re operating outside of your natural state, you are consuming energy. The more in alignment you become, the less you’re demanding of yourself and the more personal agency you build up.” If you feel like you’re in the wrong career, it might help to develop a career strategy to find a position better suited for you, or use job analysis and crafting in your current position. This allows you to clarify the expectations of your role and work with your team to delegate tasks based off of individual strengths and weaknesses. Finding a harmony in your career is also important. Although establishing a work-life balance is necessary, it is much easier to avoid burnout when you’re doing something you’re passionate about.
How bosses can provide burnout prevention/recovery for staff:
Circumventing burnout is a lot easier when the boss is supportive of their employees’ stress and lifestyle management. As an employer, here are some strategies you can take to prevent burnout among employees:
Help to identify the overachievers and “yes” workers, and try to avoid putting the demands of compensating for other workers on them by giving them choices. They may expect the most demanding projects, so giving them the option for simpler tasks will help to prevent overload.
Regardless of if you are the employee, the manager or the boss, it is important to set boundaries for yourself and your workers. You can do this by scheduling free time. If you are the employee, allow time in your day to decompress and recharge. This includes allowing for vacation and sick days. A change in scenery can help gain a fresh perspective. This includes allowing yourself time to unplug from technology. Remember that the best work is done when working in your element and at full capacity. No one can pour from an empty cup.
--Elizabeth Carter, Office Manager at Country Club Janitorial