The verdict’s in – the World Health Organisation has declared that burnout is an occupational phenomenon that undermines how well people perform at work.
What is it
Burnout occurs from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed. It is characterized by:
· feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
· being more and more detached from your job
· feelings of negativity, cynicism and complete lack of motivation for your job
· inability to meet the constant demands at work
Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
Lack of recognition or reward for good work
Unclear or overly demanding job expectations and workload
Monotonous, unrewarding or unchallenging work
Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment
Poor work-life balance
Lack of job stability
Being ‘on’ 24/7, seven days a week with no time to re-energise
While burnout starts at work, there are many factors outside of work that contribute to it, such as: not taking scheduled holidays and regular time out; being a perfectionist; not seeking help when it’s needed; not enough social time; lack of social supports; not getting enough sleep; taking on too much in your everyday life and already having a pessimistic attitude.
What you can do
Whether you’re experiencing early warning signs of burnout or you are in the thick of it, it’s never too late to take steps to turn things around. Here are a few helpful tips:
· The obvious first step is to address the thing that’s causing the stress in the first place – your job. It might be time to start planning for a new job but if this isn’t possible right now, then give the following things a try -
· Reach out to your loved ones and people that nurture your soul. Maybe you haven’t spent enough time with these people and way too much with people that bring you down. If you need new friends, start investigating community recreation groups, volunteer your services for a cause you’re interested in, or even make new friends at work – you may even consider organising some social activities for your workmates.
· Take care of your health – you need 8 hours of sleep, a healthy diet, reduce alcohol/nicotine/caffeine/sugar/processed food, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Find an activity you enjoy (or used to enjoy) and go for it. If you can get out in some nature, then even better.
· Have time away from devices and completely disconnect from technology for some time every day, and that includes no phones in the bedroom. A simple suggestion is to down tools and take a lunchtime or mid-afternoon walk (you know, when that slump kicks in)!
· Learn the power of saying the polite “no” so you’re not constantly over-extending and later resenting it. Setting boundaries is very healthy – you may even become a role model for others.
· Take up a creative activity. Is there something you’ve been planning to give a go but never seem to have the time or energy - what have you got to lose? Choose something that’s not connected to the stress at work and that will give you a real sense of fun and satisfaction.
· Include some relaxation time – it’s as important as any other time and helps relieve that mounting stress. There are so many apps to help you get started with mindfulness and meditation, or a long soak in the bath or chilling to relaxation music may be more your style.
· Finally, learn how to deal with stress in the moment by intercepting unhelpful thoughts and feelings. There are plenty of simple techniques for this and I’d be delighted to show you how.