For generations, feeling worn out and exhausted at work has been par for the course, often branded as a natural part of the career progression. However, what if I told you it’s more than just an overwhelming Monday morning or a particularly stressful project that’s causing that nagging sense of dread when you think about work? We’re talking about a syndrome that’s much more pervasive, and increasingly common among modern workers: burnout.
As per recent studies, nearly half of global workers have reported experiencing burnout. So, it may not be a matter of “if”, but rather “when” it comes knocking at your door. The key lies in recognizing it and understanding what to do next. That’s what we’re going to address here today.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is more than just feeling tired or bored with your job – these things can happen to anyone at any time, and can be fleeting. It is characterized by a trifecta of depletion, detachment, and reduced efficacy. In other words, you’re not just running out of energy; you’re also feeling an increasing distance and negativity toward your job, and your effectiveness at work is dwindling.
The most alarming aspect? Burnout can strike even those who have previously loved and excelled in their roles. In fact, it’s generally more common among those workers, which is what differentiates it from simply being in an unfulfilling job.
Are You Experiencing Burnout?
There’s a certain sense of heavy-heartedness that accompanies burnout, akin to depression. The key difference is, this gloom lifts when you’re not thinking of, or engaging with, work. The exhaustion is immobilizing, often pushing one towards contemplating the idea of getting a sick note. Feelings of being undervalued by the employer, coupled with daydreams about switching jobs, become recurring.
If you’re experiencing burnout, you may well be shocked by its intrusion into your everyday life. You may think, or even say, something along the lines of “This isn’t like me”, and genuinely not know where these feelings have come from. You may also compare yourself with workers like nurses and carers, people with “genuinely stressful jobs”. In realty, the job title has little to do with burnout. For sure, those are stressful jobs, but pulling yourself to do tasks for an employer just so you can pay the bills is tough on anyone. If this weariness, disproportionate to your age and responsibilities, feels all too familiar, you might be grappling with burnout. It’s time to consult a professional.
How to Navigate Through Burnout?
Once you’ve recognized burnout, the next step involves taking action. Start by examining your work-life balance. Are you working beyond your contracted hours, or handling more workload without a corresponding pay rise? Do you often catch yourself fantasizing about leaving it all behind, or stay up late to claim some ‘me time’?
Recognizing these feelings is pivotal to devising a solution. Consider discussing your concerns with your doctor for medical advice. Conveying your struggles to your employer can also be a productive step. Seek a raise, if possible, as it can help combat the feeling of being undervalued. However, it’s crucial to remember that if the workload continues to be overbearing, no pay hike can salvage the situation. You may need to explore a restructuring of your job duties.
In cases where other measures don’t alleviate the burnout, considering a new job that demands less from you might be your best bet. Burnout is one of the most common reasons people change jobs. Nobody wants to take a pay cut, but calculate how much money you spend coping with burnout – on takeout because you’re too shattered to cook, on self-care products to feel better, and subscriptions so you can turn your brain off and enjoy some gentle TV content. Taking on a job that lets you get “you” back may be worth a lower paycheck.
Burnout: More Than Just a Buzzword
Burnout is not mere malingering. It’s a legitimate condition acknowledged by the medical community, a clarion call from your brain and body for change. Ignoring it may result in significant psychological and physical harm – what we used to refer to as a nervous breakdown. Recognizing the symptoms, consulting professionals, and taking proactive steps to manage it, are vital to safeguarding your wellbeing in the world of work.
It’s time we put the stigma surrounding burnout to rest, acknowledging it as a genuine condition that demands our attention. Remember, listening to your body and mind is the first step towards maintaining a healthy and fulfilling work life.