Unfortunately, most of us spend our waking hours working. Yet trying to keep up with the rat race can lead to serious consequences. And one, in particular, is negatively affecting a large percentage of the world’s population: burnout. So, if you’re been feeling exhausted, less productive at work, and generally fed up with your job, you’re not alone. But it’s best to learn the signs/symptoms and how to recover from work burnout with early prevention.
What Is Work Burnout?
We’re all familiar with that dreaded-work feeling. Whether it’s our boss, colleagues, pressing demands, or a combination of all three, work can feel overwhelming…to say the least. But work burnout is more serious than stress or frustration. It is a reaction that involves physical and emotional symptoms of chronic work stress. Characterized by three main criteria; exhaustion, lack of work satisfaction, and a sense of inefficacy, work burnout begins to erode your personal identity and affects multiple areas of your life beyond the office.
What Causes Work Burnout?
Work burnout could be a result of multiple factors, including a micromanaging boss, a lack of appreciation, a never-ending to-do list, office drama, a lack of resources, and a lack of control regarding your schedule, tasks, etc.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Work Burnout?
Burnout doesn’t occur overnight. Therefore, understanding the signs and symptoms of work burnout will better help you discover what you’re experiencing to receive treatment early on.
- Self-criticism at work
- Feeling worthless
- Decreased energy
- Loss of interest
- Poor concentration
- Problems sleeping
- Extreme fatigue
- Suicidal ideation
- Unexplained recurring headaches
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Compromised immune function
- High blood pressure
- Depersonalization/disconnection to oneself and others
- Unhealthy coping mechanisms (drugs, alcohol, changes in eating habits)
How to Recover From Work Burnout
1. Practice acceptance
Don’t ignore your intuition, especially if any part of this article resonates with you. Because if it does, that’s your subconscious warning it’s time to take a break. But the word “break” can be difficult for many of us to accept. Yet this is a result of faulty conditioning. Therefore, begin accepting that you’re experiencing work burnout and allow yourself time to recover.
2. Address your programming
Alongside acceptance, it’s critical to evaluate whether your programming affects your vulnerability to burnout. For example, limiting beliefs, self-talk, resilience, coping skills, and perfectionistic tendencies can all play a role. Therefore, build your awareness by paying attention to your thoughts and behaviors surrounding work. Perhaps you believe if something can’t be done perfectly, it’s not worth trying. Or maybe you think asking for help equates to weakness. Maybe staying busy means you feel worthy. D0 any of these resonate with you? If so, it’s possible to learn how to stop being a perfectionist and improve your programming.
3. Enlist boundaries
One of the best ways to learn how to recover from burnout is learning how to set boundaries and maintain them. That means delegating work to ease stress, saying no, and refusing to respond to emails/Slack notifications outside work hours. When we have better control over our work-life balance, we’re less likely to feel overwhelmed, overworked, or exhausted.
4. Consider your options
Burnout can be a cause of your boss’s management style and how tasks are distributed to you. Therefore, instead of allowing the overwhelm to continue, directly speak to upper management about their leadership style and its impact on you. Breaking the silence and speaking up may create a positive domino effect that improves the work dynamic for everyone on your team. However, if they’re unwilling to improve and your burnout continues, you also have the right to reflect on whether or not you want to continue working for your current organization.
5. Create a self-care routine
While work burnout is a result of chronic work stress, having a self-care routine beyond the office will combat the overwhelm you feel. For example, prioritizing interests that spark joy like meditation, running, spending time with loved ones, or anything really will serve as positive outlets. Additionally, follow a mindful morning routine to protect you against the sources of your burnout. Select coping mechanisms practiced continually will lead to less reaction, better emotional regulation, and reduced stress.
6. Connect to loved ones
If you’re burned out, you may want to lie on the couch and do nothing. And while it is more than okay to binge Netflix, research shows social activities are better at aiding recovery than simply doing nothing. In fact, Oerlemans and Bakker (2014) found their participants felt more rested after spending time with friends and family. So, when possible, see a loved one for coffee, call a friend, or go out with anyone that lights up your soul.
7. Work stays at work
You may be tempted to take your work home, especially if you didn’t finish a project. But try to maintain a work schedule that provides the time and freedom to enjoy your personal life beyond the 9-5. This tip is also a great way to exercise your boundaries. For example, at the end of the work day, turn off all Slack notifications and devices, and delete your work email from your phone. You need and deserve the time to decompress.
8. Build your efficacy
One of the main criteria of burnout is ineffectiveness. In other words, you start to feel a lack of belief in your professional capabilities. To combat this, accomplish things outside of work that also brings you joy. For example, take a fitness class, finish a book, enlist deep-cleaning hacks to boost minimalism in your home, or complete a shorter task with definite positive rewards. Doing so will create a ripple effect that spreads to your work.
9. Take daily breaks
Did you know periodic breaks are more effective than waiting for the weekend or a vacation? It’s true. Taking breaks helps you recover from stress and improve your performance more quickly. So, instead of telling yourself, “I’ll wait until the weekend” or “I’ll feel better when I go on holiday”, give yourself moments to reconnect with yourself. Mindfully check in throughout the day, never skip lunch, and always leave work at work – meaning when your shift finishes, enjoy your time off.
If you’ve been having a hard time dealing with work, we hope these tips about how to recover from work burnout help you. And if your symptoms are worsening and you suspect you have depression or anxiety, contact a mental health professional for support. They will help you recover and get back to you.
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