Feeling Burned Out At Work?
Although we’re just one month into the new year, professional burnout can still exist. Given the buildup to the holidays, the December rush, and resulting “getting back into the groove” of January, it’s not unusual for business owners to feel mentally exhausted. Of course, you don’t always have the option to get away from it all for a week – or even a day – so what can you do?
First, let’s see if you’re burned out.
What is Burnout?
Think of it as prolonged, turbo stress, which builds over time and results in complete and total emotional and physical exhaustion.
You may be suffering from burnout if:
-You hate the notion of returning to work
-You are apathetic about your job
-You lack professional drive
-You feel trapped
-Your depression and anxiety is spilling over into your personal relationships
-You’re neglecting your own needs
-You are having difficulty focusing
-You have a short temper
-You feel like you can never do enough
Causes of Burnout
Burnout usually results from doing too much, too often, for too many people. In short, you’ve lost track of yourself and what you need to feel fulfilled. Some causes of job burnout include:
-Allowing your job to consume you to the point where you don’t think about anything else
-Trying to be everything to everyone
-Continually increasing the amount of work you do beyond the point where you can manage it yourself
-Feeling stuck in a problem you haven’t been able to solve yet
Ways to Beat Burnout
You may have heard all this before, but hearing and doing are two different things. Below is a list of what you can do to undo burnout:
–Exercise. We know. That’s seemingly the answer to everything, but exercise really is an awesome stress reducer. If you can decrease your stress levels even a little bit, your focus improves, as does your ability to positively address challenges.
–Force yourself to leave work behind. This one will be hard. But when you’re home, remind yourself that you deserve a respite and time to yourself and with your family. If you are constantly checking email and talking on the phone, you are unwittingly creating an atmosphere of furious activity and sometimes even, panic, as your body or mind are never at rest. Give yourself time to recharge. Be present in the moment and try not to fill it up with work every second. You’ll see things more clearly with time (even 12 hours) away from what occupies you most of the day at work.
–Change it up. Daily routines can become tedious after awhile and contribute to the thought that “nothing ever changes,” which leads you down the road of “I can’t do anything about it,” which can land you squarely in BurnoutVille. If you’re feeling burned out, vary your day a little. If you communicate by email or text all the time, pick up the phone and call your contact. If you eat lunch in the office, go out for an hour instead. Mixing up your routine – even a little – can freshen your perspective, and burnout shrivels in the face of fresh.
–Make a list of what you can do. When you’re burned out, you can feel like you can’t ever do enough or escape from feeling overwhelmed. Instead, write down what you CAN do: delegate more? hire an assistant? outsource? get more sleep and wake up earlier? If you have a big project, that old adage of “break it down” comes in real handy here. Get the steps down on paper, even if step one is: get the steps down on paper. Seeing the monumental thing before you chunked up into doable tasks is a great burnout buster. You’ll see that project can be done. Maybe over time and in a hundred steps, but it can be done.
–Talk to people. Trying to be the hero at work may make you feel isolated and like no one understands. You might think you’re always saving people or fixing situations. Just sharing what you’re feeling with someone (a spouse, a partner, a therapist, even) can lighten the load. Don’t underestimate the value of emotional support.
As you get on the road to undoing burnout, remember it takes time. Don’t burn yourself out thinking you need to fix your burnout too quickly. The little things you do add up, but remain patient because relief might not come overnight. Decide what you’re going to do and hold to the plan and you WILL feel better.
What do you do to alleviate burnout?