Let’s face it, if work were fun they wouldn’t call it work. Not that a job has to be a barrel of laughs and not that it can’t be fulfilling, interesting, and rewarding. But all the time? Day in and year out? You’re one of the lucky few if you absolutely love what you do for a living and spring out of bed every morning eager to get to it.
Particularly in this era of connectivity when you don’t even have to be in the office to be as consumed by your job as if you were, the demands and stresses of work can have a drip drip drip effect on your mental, emotional, and even physical energy.
The result is burnout and it can be utterly debilitating.
Are You Getting Burned Out?
Burnout is more than being tired in the morning or hitting an afternoon slump on the job once in a while. It’s the cumulative effect of an extended period of stress that can be caused by a number of factors.
The symptoms include:
- Mental exhaustion. You just can’t face another task like the ones you’ve been doing for what seems like forever. It feels as if you’re spending your life on a treadmill, and the enthusiasm you once had for your job has gone missing.
- Physical exhaustion. Stress is interfering with your sleep, and you may even be experiencing distress like headaches, stomach disorders, and a general feeling of unwellness. Without mediation, stress can have serious health risks including heart disease.
- Lack of concentration. A byproduct of mental or physical exhaustion is an inability to think clearly and concentrate on what you’re doing. This, in turn, has a cascading effect on your memory, your ability to make decisions, solve problems, and take care of the most basic things in both your work and personal life.
- Your job performance has slipped. No news here. If you’re tired, not concentrating, and at odds with everything around you, your work is bound to decline. Unfortunately, this only leads to fewer rewards and less job satisfaction. It can even get you fired.
- You just don’t care anymore. Nothing you’re doing seems important, and you can’t even find the motivation to combat your negative feelings. The depression can carry over into your personal life, too, and you might find yourself being argumentative or withdrawing from family and social relationships. The result is that you’re miserable both at work and at home.
How Can You Avoid It?
The most obvious answer is to take a good look at your job and the company you work for and decide whether or not you’re still the match you once were.
If you’re going to work everyday in a dysfunctional environment that doesn’t provide you with the resources and support you need to succeed at what you do, if your suggestions and contributions aren’t appreciated, if your coworkers or supervisors make your situation unpleasant, or if the core values of the organization have changed in ways that don’t ‘jive’ with your own, then you should probably look elsewhere.
But if you want to stay where you are and just make it better, here are some ways to avoid burnout:
- Be good to yourself. Readjust your work-life balance and spend more time doing what you love, like sports, creative endeavours, or just spending time with your kids. Unplug from the job when you’re not there and absolutely do not read work-related emails before you go to bed. Eat well, exercise, and get a night’s sleep. Remember to have fun.
- Talk to management. No employer wants an employee who’s stressed and not doing well. Discuss your concerns and see if there’s a way to alleviate them, whether by adjusting your work assignments, your schedule, or even your physical location in the office.
- Look to your future. Consider getting a GMAT-waiver MBA online while you’re at your current job. It will not only give you a fresh outlook, enhance your business skills, and give you new tools for communication and creative problem-solving, but it will make you competitive for promotions whether in your current organization or with another one. Having something promising to look forward to always makes things better.