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Everyone may feel stressed or even overworked at times, but burnout is a whole other level.
Burnout is a hyper-stress state induced by continued workplace pressures, elevated states of chronic stress and feelings of not being in control of your work environment.
When you’ve surpassed stress and find yourself in the burnout state, everything suffers; motivation is replaced by apathy; excitement becomes depression; and hope is drowned by despair. And though it starts as an emotional drain, burnout has been shown to lead to coronary heart disease. In fact, it can boost your risk of heart disease by almost 80 percent!
How it starts
Psychology Today warns that the “cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support.”
Burnout affects the mind in three key ways…
- Emotional Exhaustion: You feel so “past it” that you can’t read or focus or think about another thing. You just sit and stare into the computer or at the wall. The emotional exhaustion leads or is concurrent with physical exhaustion.
- Depersonalization: You feel alone, separate and alienated from co-workers and employers. These disconnected feelings can lead to anxiety, depression and despair. .
- Lack of Accomplishment: Apathy is a sure sign of burnout and undermines your confidence in your work and ability to continue performing well.
Causes of burnout…
Continuous states of chronic stress in the workplace is the main trigger for burnout. The following areas can cause workplace stress to elevate and lead to burnout…
- Accountability without Authority. Not having authority to make key decisions about your work/project, but you are still held accountable for their outcomes.
- Conflicting Values. Vision and mission statements abound in company literature, but those in charge may be more concerned with reaching financial goals over upholding company values. Being constantly faced with a value’s dilemma is detrimental to health and wellbeing.
- Insufficient Reward. Being under-paid for your skills and/or your skills are under-employed. Employees need to feel valued, in charge and rewarded in title and/or salary for their efforts.
- Heavy Workload. Too much work makes the job seem endless and therefore unbearable. Additionally the complexity of tasks may be above your skill and the completion dates unreasonable.
- Unfair and In-the-Dark. Feeling like you are being treated unfairly, or things are conspiring behind closed doors create stress and burnout.
Get ahead of the state…
Like with stress, knowing the signs that burnout is around the corner is vital to avoiding it. First, you must know and recognize the signs of stress. These include tension in the low back and neck/shoulders; headaches; irritability, anxiety, depression, apathy, sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating on the task at hand.
When this goes on for long a period of time it’s harder to escape the clutches of burnout. So if you find that stress is becoming a chronic state in the workplace for you, then you need to reverse that pronto. Here are some tips:
- Get together with co-workers for non-work engagements, like lunch, walks or activities.
- Be transparent with co-workers and managers/bosses about your workplace observations.
- Take a walk during lunch and eat away from the desk.
- Do something enjoyable for yourself after work and before bed.
- Sleep deeply and eat a balanced breakfast to be ready for the day.
- Work with earbuds, listening to music that raises your spirit and mood during work.
- In all cases, make sure you take time for self-care.
To again quote from Psychology Today, “If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.” Getting ahead of burnout by reducing stress and doing self-care can make life better, work more enjoyable and prevent needless onset of coronary heart disease.
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