Dealing with Burnout Syndrome: Signs, Symptoms, Prevention and Help
Are you at risk of being Burnout?
What is your go-to answer when someone asks you, How are you doing? or How you’ve been? or How are things? Is it “busy”? Do do you remember a time when your answer was “good”? It seems that lately, that’s our default state: You know, busy.
While you think there’s nothing to it, since that’s the way things are, there’s a dark and dangerous side (healthwise), to all the stress and responsibilities you crammed into your day. You’re on your way to burnout, the ultimate consequence of your extremely busy life.
What exactly is burnout?
Burnout syndrome is more than the daily stress you experiment from work. There’s a difference between the exhaustion you feel at the end of a long and brutal day of work and the perpetual fatigue or burnout. Burnout syndrome, according to Christina Maslach, is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job (which result is) overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Burnout is more than increased stress or feeling tired or irritated from all your workload, it’s feeling constantly exhausted, not caring about your job and having pessimistic opinions about yourself and others. It’s difficult to identify burnout because it may feel like you’re failing at your work or just giving up, but actually it is a chronic disease and it has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon“.
Sadly, burnout syndrome is a widespread issue in American society. There’s recent research that says that 28% of working Americans are currently dealing with burnout (that’s not including the ones having symptoms but not being identified as being burnout if we include them the number goes to 62%).
Causes, signs and symptoms of burnout
To really understand something first you have to know what causes it. According to Dr. Maslach and her colleagues, there are three types of burnout: Individual (factors associated with excessive negative talk about you); Interpersonal (the result of a difficult relationship with coworkers and boss), and Organizational (the job not agreeing with you).
If you think you’re in the verge of burnout or think you might be suffering from it, watch out for this telltale signs:
1. Exhaustion (physical and emotional)
You feel exhausted, not just at the end of the day, you feel exhausted always. It’s chronic fatigue where you see no relief. Do you wake up tired even if you go to bed early? Are you moving more slowly and it takes an enormous amount of time to get ready? Do small tasks demand more energy than you feel you actually have? Do you dread the day ahead? Then watch out because you may be suffering from burnout.
2. A sense of detachment
Your attitude towards work is indifferent. It’s normal going through periods where you feel no joy toward your work. But if that feeling persists, even when you’re clocked out, or you find yourself preoccupied about finding ways to “escape” work, you might be suffering from burnout.
Do you become angry and are being less patient with your coworkers? Do you call in sick regularly? Are you ditching parties or social events? Burnout can lead you to be disconnected with others and your environment.
3. Lack of personal accomplishment
When burnout reaches a certain level is common to start feeling negative about yourself, you start to seriously doubt your own value at your workplace. Is “What’s the point?” a recurring question you ask yourself lately?
If there’s a sense of apathy, hopelessness, and helplessness that’s leading you to feel frustrated and angry over your lack of productivity, you’re facing burnout.
What can you do to protect yourself from being Burnout?
Since burnout could wreak havoc in your life and you obviously want to avoid it, what can you do to prevent it? How can you protect yourself from burnout? Is it possible? Yes! Now that you know what it is and what are the causes and symptoms, there are some things you can do to avoid it and live a productive and happy life.
1. Schedule social activities
Don’t let your work dictate your day, you need to schedule a time to go hang with friend and family, you know, watch a movie, go to a bar, play games, go on trips. Schedule a walk outside the office (put it in your agenda), these little breaks away from your computer can go a long way in preventing burnout.
2. Protect your time
Filling up your calendar with millions of chores to do in a day is not conducive to preventing burnout. There are never enough hours in one day. So you need to have some strategies in place to protect your time. For example, set aside uninterrupted time for work you deem important and don’t waver from it. Set specific response times for answering emails and messages. Make it known that you’re only available in that frame of time.
3. Get rid or reduce your stress factors
You can’t expect to be productive if you let your daily stresses become commonplace. Biologically, we’re not meant to function well if our stress levels are high all the time. To prevent burnout you need to identify the stressors that are affecting you like, unrealistic deadlines, frequent scheduling conflicts, added responsibilities (not equally compensated), interpersonal demands.
Once you’ve identified them, you need to make some radical changes in your daily routine.
4. Start measuring your effort, not just your results
If your drive is productivity, you’re also at risk of burnout. Instead of focusing on being an achiever and crossing all the things in your to-do list, focus on the effort, measure it not the outcome. If you were planning on finishing the report today, change it to working on it a couple of hours.
Don’t let burnout be your default state, you can be happier and healthier at work and in every other aspect of your life. You know what causes burnout and you know how to prevent it, don’t let it destroy your life.