WORK-LIFE BALANCE / SEP. 03, 2014
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What is Job Burnout? Inform Yourself

Out of all adverse effects that may arise from work, burnout is one of the most detrimental ones. Burnout is broadly defined as a "physical or mental collapse that is caused by overwork and prolonged stress". Researchers say that burnout is to stress as clinical depression is to feeling a little blue. It is a much more serious condition that impacts all areas of one’s life, and leaves a person feeling exhausted, cynical, discouraged, and worthless. In more serious cases, burnout can even lead to suicide. In 2009, more than 35 employees of French companies Telecom and Renault committed suicide due to job burnout. These events sent a strong message to organizations and employees around the world, pointing out that the safety and health of workers must be safeguarded. To help you get informed about burnout, this article lists the most common sign and symptoms, together with causes and outcomes of job burnout. It concludes with some tips on how to recover from it. 

What are the signs and symptoms of burnout?

  • Physical signs and symptoms of burnout
    • Feeling exhausted and drained all the time
    • Lower immunity, getting sick often
    • Loss of appetite and inability to sleep
    • Frequent headaches, back, and muscle aches
  • Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout
    • Feeling helpless, hopeless, and trapped
    • Sense of failure and self-doubt
    • Loss of motivation
    • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
    • Cynical and negative outlook towards life
    • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
  • Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout
    • Isolating from other people
    • Procrastination
    • Withdrawing from responsibilities
    • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
    • Taking out frustration on others
    • Avoiding work altogether

What are the causes of burnout?                                                 

  • Personality traits that contribute to burnout
    • Perfectionism
    • Pessimistic view of the self and the world
    • The need to be in control
    • Lack of close, supportive relationships
  • Work-related causes of burnout
    • Excessive workload
    • Having little or no control over work
    • Lack of appropriate rewards and a sense of recognition 
    • Doing work that is in conflict with personal values
    • No perceived fairness in the workplace
    • Losing a sense of positive connection with others in the workplace

What are the outcomes of burnout?

  • Health-related outcomes of burnout
    • Link with substance abuse
    • Mental dysfunction 
    • Anxiety, depression, and a drop in self-esteem
  • Performance-related outcomes of burnout
    • Absenteeism or complete job withdrawal
    • Lower productivity and effectiveness
    • Decreased job satisfaction 
    • Conflict with colleagues 
    • Reduced commitment to the job or the company

How to overcome burnout?

  • Take a sick leave
    • This will help you cool off and recover a bit. You will have lots of time for yourself and you will get to forget about work, at least for a while.
  • Learn a relaxation technique.
    • Relaxing can help you manage the stress better. This, in turn, can help you combat exhaustion.
  • Seek social support
    • People who have lots of social support are much less likely to experience burnout. Having somebody to talk to always helps.
  • Talk to the management in your organization.
    • Discuss your workload, rewards, having control over your work, and fairness. Explain how you are feeling. It is the duty of the manager to understand you and help you out.
  • Think of getting a different job.
    • If your current job is too demanding, maybe you would be better off if you worked someplace else. 
  • Reevaluate your goals and principles.
    • Burnout is a sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your goals, dreams, and values. Discover what makes you happy and change your life accordingly.
  • Seek professional help.
    • If you cannot combat with burnout, go talk to a psychologist. Professionals can always help in these situations. 

Burnout is a serious condition and shouldn’t be neglected. If you are not experiencing burnout, it is good to read about it and get informed. This may help you learn to recognize the symptoms and have some ideas on how you can prevent them. If you are already experiencing burnout, make a break and consider the ways in which you can start feeling better. Health, regardless if it’s physical or mental, is something that you must guard. Don’t let your work ruin you.

 

Image source: rappler

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