How to prevent burnout at work

You feel tired at the end of the workday. No, scratch that. You feel exhausted, and you didn’t actually exert yourself physically. Everything seems gray, and you feel detached even from people you consider friends. You can barely drag yourself to work, and when you finally walk in, you just want to turn around and exit the way you came. The annoying thing is, you have no idea how to improve your situation or move forward in your career.

These are symptoms that typify workplace burnout. Now, after a horrific year in which many businesses shut down for good, a report by NBC News stated that “a new poll from job platform Monster.com found that 95 percent of workers are thinking about finding a new job.”

The main reason given by poll respondents was burnout.

Now more than ever, wanting to throw in the towel is mostly about work-related (and world situation-related) chronic stress. It’s physical and emotional exhaustion that leads to hating your job and an overall loss of personal happiness. Burnout usually creeps up on you and builds negative emotions over time.

Physical signs and symptoms often include those that are also associated with anxiety and depression. For example, people typically experience:

  • Irritability
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Isolation

With that said, here are four major areas that often lead to burnout and what you can try and do to remedy the situation.

Businesswoman suffering from overwhelm

Pay attention to your workload

When your workload matches your ability to get done what needs to be done, there usually isn’t a problem. You do your work, and then you rest and recover. During downtime, you can engage in hobbies or seek ways to invest in personal development. However, when you’re saddled with a workload that’s more than your ability to handle effectively, you often have to work longer hours to catch up. You are robbed of opportunities to rest and restore balance.

To fix the situation, you need to evaluate yourself honestly and see how well you are planning ahead, delegating tasks, saying no, prioritizing work, and ceasing perfectionist behaviors. If you haven’t been doing the things just mentioned, begin implementing them and then reevaluate your stress levels.

Do you feel out of control?

In most cases of work burnout, people feel like they lack control, access to resources, and autonomy. They also feel like they don’t have a seat at the table. In other words, they have no say in larger decisions the company makes, which impact their lives. That feeling of helplessness can exact an emotional price.

When you feel like this, it’s a good idea to examine the situation objectively. Try to look at yourself as an observer. Ask yourself what’s causing you to feel the way that you do. Once you can identify the root cause, then ask yourself what is within your power to help effect change. Keep in mind that some things might change if you’re willing to speak up about a given situation, while others won’t change no matter what you do.

If you’re able to determine which of the two it is, then you’ll be able to make a better decision as to what steps you should take next.

Are you being adequately rewarded?

If you feel like you’ve been busting your rear end with no real recognition or reward that matches the time and effort you’ve put into your workplace, then you may feel the job is no longer worth it.

A proper step here is to pause and think about what it would take for you to feel appreciated in the way you should be. Are you in a position where you can ask for a promotion or a raise? Regardless, there might be ways of asking for and receiving the rewards you need to stay in your current position. You won’t know until you ask. Or if you are running your own business, what are some rewards that you can implement for yourself once you hit certain goals? Even if you’re your own boss, you still deserve recognition.

Is there a clash in values?

Sometimes, it all comes down to a clash in values. When the company for which you work doesn’t value something that you do, your motivation to stay in that work environment can drop substantially. On the flip side, when a company holds ideals, standards, and values that you find distasteful or that are diametrically opposed to inwardly held beliefs, your desire to go into work each day might be practically non-existent. If either of these situations is the case, then you need to determine if there’s any chance executives at the company are open to change. If not, then you may be better off looking for an organization that aligns more with your convictions or finally going out on your own and starting your own business.

Stressed out young woman

Before you quit

Quitting and finding a new job isn’t always the answer to burnout. It can be, but it isn’t always. Before making any significant decision one way or the other, take some time to breathe. It may help to see a professional therapist. If that’s not an option for you, talk with friends and family. If you have a mentor, speak to that individual. You might see a few things in a different light.

If you can ensure that you genuinely thought things through, you’ll be more at peace with your ultimate decision whether you stay or go.

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