Are you suffering from work burnout?

By Mel Sim

It's more common than you think

You’re running on 100% since day one and you haven’t stopped to recharge. You want to be the first in the office, the last one out, and the one who’s always saying yes to work, no matter how busy you are. It’s like being a workaholic is how you show others that you have impressive work ethics.

That is until you find yourself down on energy, completed zapped and zonked out. Your health isn’t great, you no longer look forward to coming to work, and eventually, you start questioning why you’re doing it for.

Welcome to burnout, a condition that many people find themselves in if they keep going without taking a moment to pause, relax and recharge. The term was first coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger in his book Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement where he describes it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause of relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

When it comes to work, it is a condition where you feel you’re doing a lot of things that take up most of your time but wondering what for or feel dejected when you don’t get the end result. It’s not that work isn’t satisfying anymore; it’s just that you’ve pushed yourself down the daily grind so much so that you start having a physical reaction to the daily stress where you feel exhausted, cynical and at times, that you’re not good enough anymore.

Simply put, you are suffering from work burnout if you feel tired all the time, start hating your job, and begin to show a lack of confidence and capability.

Is this you? Know that if you don’t address these feelings soon, work burnout can take a serious toll on your life physically (falling sick often, not eating well) and mentally (feelings of hopelessness, negativity and depression). Thankfully, you can reverse the condition by making a few adjustments to your approach to work – using these six tips.

#1 Be selfish
It’s a tough one but sometimes you’ve got to think about number one – you. One of the many reasons why you’re burnt out is because you end up carrying the responsibilities of many others from helping your colleagues in finishing up their work to always being the right-hand person for your boss. You sometimes have to say no for things like additional tasks when you can’t handle your current tasks or when you’re asked to stay late or attend a meting that doesn’t involve your job function.

#2 Log off
When you start feeling the effect of work burnout, it’s usually a sign that you need to take some time off. Don’t have the leave or money for a two-week vacation in Europe? There are other options. For starters, you can try planning a weekend staycation where you don’t log on to work at all and give yourself a technology detox. Just focus on relaxing (spa, maybe?) and on you.

Or do this every day – limit your use of your digital devices after hours. When you get home, put your phone away and do other things like enjoy dinner, watch TV, read a book.

#3 Keep it simple
Take a look at your list now – surely there are things you can put off a day or two? We have the tendency to cram everything in one day so that we feel like we have achieved something. Instead of doing this, why not space out your list so that you not only accomplish what you set out to do but give yourself some breathing space in between.

#4 Find a release
Join a book club. Hit the Crossfit gym or yoga mat. Take up a language class. Whatever it is, do something that is completely not work related to let off steam. When you are suffering from a work burnout, you are extremely stressed and tensed inside. If you don’t let it go, you may have a sudden outburst at work that you can never be able to recover from.

#5 Take care of yourself
Eat well, sleep more, exercise often – this should be your mantra if you feel a burnout is approaching. Stay away from junk food and caffeine;, many of us turn to these two things when we are stressed at work, which backfires because it can be damaging to your health in the long run as well as can cause you to suffer from insomnia. Your body is overworked so what it really needs is a retune with love and care.

#6 Last resort – quit
Maybe it’s not you that’s causing the work burnout; it could be an external factor like your demanding boss or the nature of your work. As a last resort, you may need to reconsider your work values – is it worth it to be so mentally and physically tired all the time because of work? Could you find a more reasonable way to make money and still be happy at work? When it comes to quitting or risking your health, which do you think makes more sense? There’s no shame in calling it quits when you feel you can’t hack it anymore.

Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

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