It's easy to get swept away by work commitments and trying to advance in our careers. Before we know it, we're stressed out, depressed, and not eating properly. We feel like we've lost ourselves, it's all a bit overwhelming, and we haven't realized we're on the fast track to job burnout.
Whether you're experiencing burnout or not, it's good to get on top of workplace burnout so that you can spot the warning signs, and make changes in your daily life to prevent unnecessary burnout symptoms.
WHAT IS WORK BURNOUT
We all experience work-related stress at some point, but burnout is much more than that. Burnout is chronic. It's the physical and mental exhaustion that arises from consistent pressure and stress at work. It's a dis ease that we feel within ourselves that we can't seem to shift.
STRESS VERSUS BURNOUT
It's important to differentiate between job-related stress and job burnout. Stress is short-lived. It's a temporary state that arises when pressure is applied and subsides when the pressure is released. At work, some degree of stress is expected. In your job, you might have very short bursts of stress or maybe even a few weeks of stress, but it should come and go, leaving your stress response to switch on and off as it's designed to.
If you are experiencing work-related stress, you are not alone. In a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 79% of respondents reported that they had suffered work-related stress in the previous month. With these sorts of figures, many people are likely suffering from workplace burnout.
The problem is that chronic workplace stress over a prolonged period can cause emotional exhaustion and burnout symptoms.
Too much stress at work leaves your body in constant fight or flight, causing physical and mental symptoms. Burnout symptoms are varied, so it can be easy to miss it.
Physical symptoms of burnout include frequent illnesses and slow recovery, feeling exhausted, fatigue, headaches, sleep problems, shortness of breath, and high blood pressure. Mental health is affected too. You may feel overwhelmed, irritable, negative, and depressed. Heightened emotional responses such as fiery anger or being teary are also indicators of job burnout. Put all this together, and you're starting to feel totally frazzled and wondering what happened.
The physical and mental symptoms of burnout can leave you looking for quick relief from alcohol, drugs, sugar, and other addictive behaviors. We also turn to fast food and takeaways to help relieve the pressure. And we find ourselves surfing, scrolling, and binge-watching for escape. But all these habits and behaviors have a negative impact on our well-being.
COPING WITH JOB BURNOUT
While a beer and a tub of ice cream will work wonders at relieving our stress in the short term, long-term, these habits just make things far worse. Having crutches like this enables us to keep going when we should get out. They allow us to ignore the warning signs.
The demands of some jobs and careers are not life-affirming. Employees are not appreciated, work is not recognized, and scope creep sucks away at your energy. The problem is that quite often, it's a case of the boiling frog, and we don't realize it until it's too late.
But the consequences of living in a state of burnout are real. A peer reviewed meta-analysis study found that burnout was a significant predictor of conditions like Diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, and even mortality below the age of 45. It's time to start putting your well-being before your career.
If you are experiencing job burnout already, you need to put self-care first and make the necessary changes that allow you to recover. Reducing or removing the stressors is a crucial first step to healing. This means stepping back, acknowledging your struggle, and seeking help so you can focus on your mental and physical health, and work-life balance.
Self-care means putting yourself first and doing things that nourish you and help you relax and let go of work pressure. Learning stress-coping techniques can reduce burnout and help improve sleep habits. There are tons of free resources online and in apps that you can use to learn meditation, relaxation, and breathwork to help bring your body and mind back to a more balanced place.
We often feel like we have little or no control when we suffer from burnout symptoms, and that may be true at work, but you can start to take control by getting help. Speaking to your doctor and/or human resource management about your situation could help you create the space in your life for self-care. If taking a step back from work isn't an option, talking with your manager and family members might help you find other ways to reduce stress at work and in your private life.
PREVENTING WORKPLACE BURNOUT
Spotting burnout early can help prevent burnout symptoms and subsequent complications to your mental health before you start to suffer from it. Learning well-being life skills that support you and help with stress management and having a daily practice can prevent you from ever suffering from burnout syndrome.
General stress management tools help to set your life up for success and should help you beat burnout before it beats you. Mindfulness techniques can also help us improve present-moment-self-awareness so that we don't become the boiling frog but recognize the early symptoms when job stress starts to overwhelm us. Regular reflective exercises can improve our awareness of our situation and how we relate to it. Asking questions like;
Reflecting on these questions regularly can be helpful, but taking action to change things is the key to beating burnout before it beats you. Don't be afraid to call the shots in your life. It's your choice, your health, and your well-being. Jobs come and go, and careers change, but there is only one of you, and you are more important than your job.
Written by Kirsti Formoso - Wellness Writer for Koraru
Kirsti Formoso is a wellness writer and researcher. She is passionate about holistic health and wellbeing. She has over 30 years of experiential knowledge in personal and spiritual development, and a Masters of Science in Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology. She is also a peer reviewer for two scientific journals specialising in Transpersonal Psychology. When she’s not writing she can be found working on her vegetable plot, hiking in the mountains and breathing in all the wonders nature has to offer.
Header image by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash