Are You Heading Towards Burnout?
These days life is fast paced. Workload and expectations are high and the working week appears to be ever-increasing. Gone are the times of clocking in at 9am and out at 5pm, replaced instead by 12 hour days and weekend working. After all, who needs to go home when you have a gym, shower and even beds in your offices? Flexible working is around of course, but these more “relaxed” workplaces, appear to coexist with those instilled with the “work hard, play hard” mantra, whereby competition is fierce and the ability to succeed is coupled with long hours. Great for the workaholics out there perhaps, but the difficulty is, with us stretching ourselves so much in our work lives, are we not heading for occupational burnout?
It’s not uncommon for those working in the banking sector for example, to take an early retirement, often in their forties. Pretty early these days, given that the retirement age is getting greater by the day. Possibly, because they’ve earnt enough to warrant being able to hang up their boots a little early, but more than likely that their long working hours and extremely pressurised working environment has taken its toll. With added pressures and increased competition at work and more hectic home lives, burnout is something we all need to be aware of, including employers. Nobody wants a team that are no longer able to function in their roles. But what exactly is burnout how can you spot the warning sign in order to avoid it?
Burnout is predominantly caused by work stressors and is a state reached that leaves you completely disengaged with your working life and suffering from exhaustion. Helpguide.Org (www.helpguide.org
) describes it as “emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive stress” and symptoms can include developing a weak immune system and illness, extreme tiredness, depression, anxiety, insomnia and loss of interest in work, to name just a few. Burnout is a relatively new term coined in the 1970’s and is becoming more and more commonplace as a result of modern working life and tends to be linked to higher achievers.
To help you assess the signs and symptoms, we have pulled together a list of questions that you may want to ask yourself to establish whether you may be heading towards burnout. If some of these sound like you, it may be time to think about your current work situation and look at putting in place some changes to reduce stress levels.
- Do you find that you are really low on energy and that even day to day tasks sometimes feel like a huge effort?
- Despite being exhausted to you struggling with sleeping at night?
- Is work life starting to interfere with your home life? For example are you worrying about work when you get home and letting your work stress negatively impact your relationships with those closest to you?
- Do you find yourself moving from one cold or virus to another and consider yourself to have a low immune system?
- Are you lacking motivation at work? Where you used to be enthusiastic and keen to contribute, do you now feel yourself uninterested in work tasks and struggling to get involved?
- Do you find yourself struggling to concentrate at work and underperforming?
- Are you using unhealthy habits to cope with your current situation, such as drinking too much, overeating or smoking?
If you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, then you may wish to consider the suggestions below. In fact, these are also pretty useful for anyone with hectic and stressful work lives. To avoid ever reaching burnout or heading in that direction, it’s imperative we take stock and allow ourselves time to unwind and place enough importance on relaxation. Our busy lives can often be overwhelming and it may seem that we simply do not have enough time to see friends or spend some quality time at home. But look at it this way; those tasks simply won’t get done and you’ll be no use to anyone if you push yourself to the point of exhaustion.
- Take some time off from work – use annual or unpaid leave to allow yourself to recover
- Set aside some time to unwind and relax,
- Add exercise into your daily / weekly routine as it can be a brilliant stress reliever
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep, lack of sleep can have a huge impact on our mood and ability to cope in stressful situations
- See friends and socialise, it is a great mood lifter
For more information www.mindtools.com
offer many useful coping strategies to try.