A recent presentation that I delivered on this subject was for a gathering of human resource professionals about burnout at an annual conference.
The room was packed with people! Consequently, I reasoned that the information could come at a convenient moment for some of you.
What exactly is exhaustion? What are the symptoms, and what are the possible causes? And if you are going through it, what are some solutions you might try?
The definition of burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation,” and it is typically the outcome of continuous stress or dissatisfaction. I put typically in italics because even if you have a passion for your profession like I do, there is still a chance that you may overdo it and become exhausted.
Burnout may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including physically, behaviorally, and spiritually. The following is a list of warning indicators indicating you may be approaching burnout:
• exhaustion • muscular tension • headaches • sleeplessness • not maintaining commitments • loss of efficacy • impatience • worry • a sense of emptiness — there is nothing left to offer • a lack of joy • inability to laugh
Both the individual and the environment in which they work can play a role in the development of burnout. Some of the most frequent causes include having unrealistically high expectations of ourselves, ignoring our fundamental requirements such as the need for food and sleep, having poor time management skills, and being unable to establish boundaries or say “no.”
Organizational factors might include a culture of competition or one in which it is praised to be continually busy and overworked, with email and phone calls even being carried along on “vacations.” Burnout can also be caused by conditions that are too tight or too noisy, as well as by insufficient training for newly assigned responsibilities.
The following are three strategies to combat burnout: Alter the stressful circumstances, take steps to make yourself less susceptible to stress, and/or adjust how you respond to stress that is unavoidable all are options.
1. If you can, remove yourself from the unpleasant environment. If there are parts of your job that are very stressful, you should investigate whether or not you can share certain responsibilities with other people. Reduce the total amount of time you spend feeling stressed out. Invest some time in formulating a strategy for your life and career. Establish your priorities, and then make sure you stick to them.
2. Taking care of your physical health by eating well, getting regular exercise, and getting adequate sleep will make you less susceptible to the negative effects of stress. Stay away from cigarettes, and limit how much coffee and alcohol you consume. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and work with a coach who will pay close attention to what you have to say and assist you in striking a healthy balance between your work and the other elements of your life.
3. Alter the method in which you respond to stressful situations. Modifying the way in which you communicate to and criticize yourself might help you achieve this goal. Discover ways to relax yourself; taking a few slow, deep breaths may bring you straight back to a point of centering, where you will be able to tackle whatever source of stress is in front of you.
Learn everything you can about self-care while while having a good time.