The Cure for Burnout
At some point in your young professional career, you will experience the heavy hand of burnout.
The American Psychological Association describes burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”
Some recognizable symptoms of burnout include fatigue, a lack of motivation, and negative emotions.
Here’s an in-depth list of signs and symptoms of burnout:
Fatigue. You are tired all the time. You have no energy and it feels like you are running on fumes.
Lack of motivation. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t want to go to work. Work no longer holds the same appeal it once did.
Negative emotions. You find your emotions at work are generally negative. You might be more pessimistic or find yourself taking your frustration out on anyone within hearing range.
Problems concentrating. It’s harder to focus on the really important things at work. You have trouble remembering important things.
Poor job performance. As a lack of motivation persists and problems concentrating continues, your job performance gets worse.
Problems at home. You may start to pick fights with everyone or start to pull away. Both create a rift between you and your coworkers/family.
You let yourself go. You don’t take care of yourself and engage in rather unhealthy habits such as snacking on junk food or excessive drinking. This makes the burnout worse.
You obsess about work. You can’t stop thinking about work when you are anywhere else. Your thoughts are centered around how much you hate work.
Increased unhappiness. You are dissatisfied with everything in your life. Everything seems like one big repeat and you are bored of it.
Health problems. This is probably the most important of the symptoms. You can start to experience stomach problems, depression, heart problems, and other physical ailments.
Millennial women are experiencing a faster rate of burnout than men. According to a McKinsey study, only 26% of women hold vice president and senior management positions. Men have an easier time advancing through the ranks– taking more breaks throughout the work day and relaxing more often.
But burnout can be cured
Unplug. Take a break from email and your phone. Studies have shown that especially for women, technology can be a source of stress.
Sleep. A regular and consistent sleep schedule improves your concentration.
Organize. Write down what you need to do on a calendar or by making lists.
Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that are proven to make you feel good. Just stepping outside and taking a walk has the potential to turn a stressful day around.
Listen to yourself. You know your body and emotions– so listen to them. Reach out to a mental health professional for advice on dealing with your stress.
Say no. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you have overcommitted yourself to projects, make an attempt to remove a few things off your plate.
Seek support. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will listen to you. Having someone in your corner will help. Remember, therapy and support groups are always an option.
Know when it’s you, and when it’s them. Figure out where the stress is coming from. Sometimes, it truly is the fault of the workplace as employers have tried to cut costs in order to save money. Other times, it is your attitude that needs to change.
Know your limits. If push comes to shove, talk to HR about the problem.
If your company seems unwilling to work with you, it may be time to look for a new position.
Photography by Luke Stackpoole