Burnout is a collection of symptoms that is just as it sounds: nothing left to keep the fire going. It’s becoming increasingly prevalent (which is no surprise) in the younger generations that are in the job force today. Even though the younger people are talking about it, don’t let it fool you; it’s existed since the beginning of time!
You can get burned out doing anything and with any profession. You can also get situational burnout, burnout from dealing with certain people—literally anything that requires your energy can burn you out. Most often, burnout refers to your work, and it isn’t easy to know it’s happening before it’s already happened.
Here are 5 of the most common symptoms of burnout:
1) Your energy levels are low
Feeling overwhelmed trying to take care of all the demands your work or life may be presenting you really takes its toll on you mentally. Mental exhaustion leads to physical exhaustion. You may be burnt out if you don’t feel like you have enough energy to get through the day.
2) You’re slowing down at work
You may notice that your productivity is slowing down at work. You may be there the same amount of time each day as when you first started and were really enthusiastic, but it is taking you longer to complete the things you used to do quickly and easily. You may be burnt out if your focus has diminished, even if the demands and responsibilities of the job have increased.
3) You don’t feel like you’re doing enough at work
The thing about burnout is that it doesn’t make you give up on your goals, you just feel miserable trying to get there. You may blame yourself for not being able to reach your goals because you’re so tired and realize that you’re less productive. Now you’re feeling both guilty because you rationally know you should be doing more, but it just doesn’t seem to be possible. You may be burnt out if you feel like you’re sick of work, but you think you should be working more.
4) Relaxing makes you feel guilty
One of the worst parts of burnout is that you are already feeling guilty that you aren’t doing more at work, and when you’re home and you feel better, there is guilt attached to simply feeling good. You may be burnt out if you find yourself feeling bad for taking time to relax.
5) You feel like you have so much to do, so you do none…
This one’s really tough. You have such a feeling of pressure to complete your tasks that it takes away all your motivation to get started. You may be burnt out if your anxiety won’t get out of your way to get your work done.
So, what can you do to avoid burnout?
Self-care is an obvious answer to burnout; but unfortunately, it’s the least understood. Self-care has become a catch-all phrase to mean that you should indulge yourself, treat yourself, take long baths, or go away for a weekend. Actually, self-care should include trying to create a life you don’t have to take a break from (though I’m still working on this one myself).
Self-care means that you should open up to your management and work with them about ways to reduce your workload. Self-care means that you should ask for a cutoff time when it comes to work being able to contact you about your job (7 pm is a common cut off time that some companies have instituted). Self-care means that you should stop yourself from feeling guilty when you’re happy outside of work. It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to love being at work every day, but it’s important to not work yourself to death.
Sometimes you’ll need a vacation or a career change to fix burnout. Sometimes, it really won’t ever go away, but you’ll learn better ways to communicate and develop strategies that can take some pressure off you. If you’ve tried coping with burnout and nothing seems to be helping, consider talking to a counselor.
Don’t forget to congratulate yourself each day you show up to work and keep striving to stay balanced.