7 signs of burnout … and 3 coping strategies!
Ritu was a highly motivated, outgoing person who was sought out by everybody at work. She was always ready to help anyone who needed assistance, and usually the first one to take on any new projects and volunteering assignments available. However a year after starting her new job, her energy levels began to flag. She began to exhibit signs of introversion and moroseness. Meanwhile her supervisor also noticed that Ritu’s performance on the job had started dropping and she was getting into a rut. Ritu was beginning to display classic symptoms of burnout.
Burnout is a work-related combination of symptoms that usually occurs in individuals without any prior history of psychological or health disorders. Burnout syndrome usually manifests itself as exhaustion, lack of motivation, frustration, slipping job performance, apathy towards friends and family, generally decreased satisfaction and poor tolerance to people and things around you. It is also associated with several other health problems.
While suffering from burnout, many people also find themselves engaging in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking, smoking too much, becoming sedentary, eating too much junk food, or not getting enough sleep. Over-dependence on self-medication is another indicator, and could manifest itself as requiring sleeping pills, or even drinking too much coffee to summon up the energy to drag yourself into work in the morning. How do you more specifically spot burnout? Here are some signs of burnout you should watch out for in yourself and others around you :
Feeling tired all the time is termed exhaustion (sometimes chronic exhaustion) which can be experienced at the emotional, mental or physical level.
- Lack of motivation:
When there is low enthusiasm, or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout.
- Frequently experiencing frustration and other negative emotions:
You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter as much anymore as it used to, or you may be disillusioned with things around you. You might notice that you feel more pessimistic than you used to.
- Slipping job or study performance:
Compare your job (or study) performance lately to your performance in previous years. Because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time, this might reveal whether you’re just in a slump, or experiencing burnout.
- Not taking care of yourself :
Schedule a time for yourself to do what you really like to do. Start talking to family and friends. It is always good to talk it out whenever you feel low.
- Generally decreased satisfaction :
This is the tendency to feel unhappy and dissatisfied with your career. You might also feel stuck even when it comes to what’s going on at home.
- Health Problems:
If not managed well over a period of time, serious and chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.
So now that you’ve understood the possible symptoms of burnout, what can you do to prevent or manage it?
Meditation can really help. Start your day with meditation, using any type of meditation technique that you are acquainted with. There are books and apps that you can learn meditation techniques from.Perhaps the simplest way to relax and de-stress yourself is allowing yourself to experience gratitude, by journaling, or simply by visualising the things one is grateful for in life.
- Respect and manage your time
Time is finite, so start respecting it. Drawing boundaries around you and keeping some “me time” is important to avoid burnout, given the kind of hectic schedules that we all have.
- Be realistic with yourself, let go and take things easier
It’s important to realise that there are things one might not be able to change at home and work. But one can try to alter one’s approach to these. Try making changes such as :
- Stop asking too much of yourself -avoid being a perfectionist
- Learn to say “no” when you should, especially if you’re overwhelmed
- Take the time to disconnect from work
- Cultivate a richer life including out-of-work hobbies and socialising
- Get enough sleep and regular exercise
- Discard clutter and get more organized in your life
To sum up, learn to let go. Practice positive techniques regularly like meditation and exercise. Change your attitude towards negative events. And finally, release the stress, as most of it “comes from things that you were never in control of anyway.”