In the ideal world, we would spend our entire lives earning money from doing what really pleases us. We would never experience any negative emotion towards it – just pure happiness. However, the real world is kinda cruel, and sometimes even the most entertaining thing can turn into the worst nightmare. In this case, it’s job burnout – a phenomenon that steals us from enjoying our responsibilities. How to find out we’re experiencing burnout, and what are the best methods to prevent it (or tackle with it if already experienced)?
What is job burnout?
According to Mayo Clinic, job burnout is not necessarily a medical term. It’s a psychological strain in response to chronic work stress characterized by the continuous state of exhaustion and loss of identity. However, recent studies show that people experiencing it usually don’t relate work as the main cause of how they’re feeling. Experts suspect there are other things behind job burnout, such as depression.
What are the signs and symptoms of burnout?
Job burnout is a process and has its stages; different signs and symptoms characterize each one.
Experienced at the beginning of a new job or after being promoted. We’re highly energetic and creative, have lots of positive feelings towards the new role, and believe that we can do everything others want from us. Both expectations and productivity are high. We accept new responsibilities willingly, always ready to take a new opportunity. It would be perfect to work like that all the time; however, this state doesn’t last forever. And then comes…
Onset on stress
It’s the moment of self-reflection when we see more and more difficult days than in the beginning. The stress symptoms initiate a real emotional rollercoaster, and we start doubting our skills. Fatigue and exhaustion increase, productivity and motivation decrease, anxiety moments occur, and we’re getting irritated easily. The physical symptoms are loss of appetite, heart problems, and higher blood pressure.
Day by day, we’re experiencing more and more stressful situations. While the stress increases, the energy and motivation rapidly decrease. New physical and mental symptoms are emerging, such as:
- chronic tiredness (especially in the mornings, which causes the higher caffeine consumption),
- social withdrawal,
- muscle pain,
- panic attacks,
- lack of interest in things that we enjoyed so far, such as hobbies or favorite activities,
However, people tend to deny these signs, believing they don’t need help and they’ll deal with their problems alone. In fact, both their physical and mental health is in danger.
The critical moment when all the symptoms are mentioned before reaching their peak. The changes in the person’s behavior are evident – they become pessimistic, less involved with what they’re doing, are obsessed over their problems, neglect their personal needs. What is more, they experience troublesome physical symptoms, like stomach problems, headaches, and muscle pain. Social withdrawal turns into social isolation; they literally want to wipe themselves out of society. The emptiness inside eats them day by day.
The final stage when people become used to the stress they’re experiencing. The symptoms described above become a part of their lives, resulting in chronic mental and physical exhaustion as well as devouring sadness. Sounds a bit like depression, doesn’t it?
In the end, job burnout often affects on only the person who experiences it but also their friends, family, other employees. And even if the others want to support and help them, they think they’re not good enough to earn the compassion and help.
How the pandemic situation affects job burnout?
Unfortunately, the recent pandemic situation affects our attitude towards the job negatively. The conditions can change overnight, sending us from the office to remote work because of the next lockdown. It makes us feel insecure because we got used to knowing where we stand. The line between private and work life gets blurry, which also badly affects our psychological well-being. One year ago, nobody expected it would turn from a one-time occurrence into a long-term state.
According to recent studies, new restrictions increase exhaustion and loosening them decreases it. It’s quite obvious, but let’s remind yourself how many times you switched between the office and home last year, no matter what country you live in?
Longing for a company
Not to mention the companies that were forced to implement a hybrid workplace. Some of them just can’t afford to let their employees work fully remote; the staff is divided into those who remain in the offices and perform their tasks from home. Such a situation increases employee isolation – people who were used to see each other every day may get lonely without daily coffee breaks with the entire team, small tasks, and inside jokes. Our teammates often give us the extra motivation to face the responsibilities. The interest in a job decreases, and we start to feel the stress of handling everything. It starts innocently but, unfortunately, we really can miss the first signs of burnout.
What causes job burnout?
There are many various causes of job burnout, and all the people who experience it don’t have to feel it the same way. Sometimes we’re not even aware we experience the exhaustion caused by chronic work-related stress, explaining to ourselves we need to work at any cost to earn money for a living.
Whether the symptoms of burnout can be different for each person, the causes are quite common:
- unfulfilled expectations – starting a new work or position, we’re highly optimistic and ready to take every single responsibility and opportunity. Then, if we see our efforts are fruitful and nobody sees them, it makes us disappointed. The stressful situations are likely to experience
- inappropriate work-life balance – as I mentioned above, the pandemic situation makes it even worse. If we’re not balancing the energy between time devoted to work and personal life, both our responsibilities and relationships with close ones suffer. This may lead to workaholism,
- over-engagement – nobody was born to work only, so if people spend your entire day working and thinking about their career, it leads them straight to being too involved in work. It results in exhaustion and many stressful situations. If others don’t treat their job as seriously as them,
- lack of control – if we lose the ability to make decisions on ourselves, we are likely to experience stressful situations.
How to take care of mental health?
Preventing job burnout isn’t just about avoiding stressful situations and convincing ourselves that we really love what we do every day.
Yoga isn’t just about fancy exercises done by celebrities. It helps us better control the breath, body sense and gives us a nice stretch. But above all, when doing yoga, it’s a time just for us. It’s time we can give up negative emotions and calm down a little bit. What is more, we may focus on our inner thoughts and look for the source of stress while practicing yoga. It’s a time when a body truly connects with the mind, giving us a moment for total relaxation.
If you’re not into physical exercises, I highly recommend you calming down with the mindfulness technique. It’s a way of meditation that requires focusing on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment without judging these feelings. Practicing yoga, mindfulness involves breathing training, guided imagery, and other techniques that help us look deep into ourselves. During the sessions, we have an opportunity to go deeper into the causes of stressful situations, how they affect us, and the consequences of maintaining such a stressful lifestyle.
Time and task organization
Proper work and workplace organization give us a better sense of control over our responsibilities. The less organized we are, the more stress we experience when finding or doing something quickly. This significantly affects our mood and creates completely unnecessary further stressful situations. Let’s face it, with job burnout; we really don’t need any more additional stressors. Therefore, let’s make sure our tasks are organized and our time for them is guaranteed. Remember that TimeCamp and its time tracking always give it a helping hand when it comes to proper time management, so feel free to use it as you wish.
Setting boundaries and paying attention to our needs
As I mentioned before, many remote workers experience job burnout because of a lack of a proper work-life balance. That’s why it’s crucial to set a thick line between the work-related responsibilities and time devoted to private life. I know it’s not particularly easy to achieve it, but start from the small steps – e.g., stop accepting requests from teammates that require something from you after working hours. Teach others how to respect your time and don’t forget to do it for them as well.
One of the job burnout symptoms is neglecting our own needs; only work exists. It leads straight to the lack of energy and decreased performance. Seeing a friend in such a situation should alarm us enough and make us do something to change it. But why we give up helping ourselves? It’s fine to show ourselves some love and compassion and do the same to others.
Changing a career path
Sounds like a last resort when it comes to job burnout prevention, but sometimes it can save us from the worst. Trying something new brings new opportunities, new ways to challenge ourselves. There are many stories of people experiencing job burnout telling they found a new meaning for their lives. Consider it and good luck!
If you feel this article relates to your current mood, don’t hesitate and ask for help. No matter if you ask your family, friends, or a professional, it’s good because you’ll take the first step towards the change. Show yourself some love – you absolutely deserve it!