Beat Job Burnout
By Shelly Field
Monster Contributing Writer
Most people have a day here or there when they feel drained and nothing goes right, despite all their hard work. But when these feelings last for days or weeks, they may indicate a much larger problem: Job burnout.
Things may be going great -- you love your job and are excited about your career -- when job burnout sneaks up on you with a creeping sense of dread. Or burnout may hit like a ton of bricks. No matter how it happens, job burnout can wreak havoc on your career and your health.
And job burnout doesn't just negatively affect employees who suffer from it. Employers must correct burnt-out workers' mistakes and replace employees who leave due to burnout, which costs time and money.
Are You Experiencing Job Burnout?
To answer that question, it helps to know what job burnout is. On the simplest level, it's when you feel mentally and physically drained for more than a few days with no hopes of improvement. You feel overwhelmed and wonder why you're doing what you're doing. Nothing makes any sense.
Answer these questions to gauge your level of burnout:
- Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning?
- Are you always tired?
- Do you forget things?
- Do you have unexplained aches and pains?
- Are you irritable at work and at home?
- Do you feel angry at work and at home?
- Do you lose your temper easily?
- Have you lashed out at coworkers, patients or your family?
- Are you overwhelmed most of the time?
- Do you feel like you have less control over things at work and at home?
- Are you stressed most of the time?
- Have you begun to wonder why you're doing what you're doing career-wise?
- When at work, do you look at your watch constantly to see how long you've been there and how much longer you have left?
- Are you going through the motions just to get through your shift?
- Have you been experiencing more headaches, stomachaches, rashes, chest pains and illnesses?
- Have you lost interest in things that used to excite you?
- Are you bored?
- Do you feel like you're in a rut?
If you answered yes to three or more questions and you've felt that way for an extended time, you are probably headed for job burnout -- if you're not already there.
Handle stress by utilizing the company's Employee Assistance Program
Signs your in the wrong job
Signs your in the right job
One of the best ways to defeat burnout is to make your job more enjoyable. "That's impossible," you say. Maybe hard, but not impossible. Sometimes you just have to change how you think.
No matter how boring or depressing your job may be at times, you have to find chances to laugh. Laughter breaks the tension of difficult situations. It helps cut the stress you feel and the tension you may be under. The more you laugh, the better you will deal with work, and the less burned out you'll be. Many people aren't aware that stress related hormones are suppressed by laughter -- so you know what you have to do.
Try to become more social. Talk to people. Find activities to do with co-workers, friends and family members. Feeling connected to others is a great way to reduce stress and burnout.
Many people in my seminars tell me that by the time they get done working for the day, they are often so exhausted that they just want to go home and be left alone. I understand, and often feel the same way.
However, a number of studies indicate that adults who have the fewest friendships and are least active socially are most likely to die prematurely. If that's not enough to make you want to get out and have fun, I don't know what is.
Listen to conversation in your workplace. You might notice that a good percentage of discussions are negative. Work on training yourself to see the positive in situations -- see the humour and knock out negative thoughts and conversation. Negativity just makes you feel worse.
Adding fun to your day will help decrease burnout. Here are several simple ideas you can incorporate into your workplace:
- Get some little toys and games and keep them on your desk. You'll be surprised how many people stop for a moment to play with your silly putty, shake a snow globe or put the magnetic beard on the man.
- Consider putting up a bulletin board in a break room or employee lounge. Ask everyone from entry-level employees up to administrators and supervisors to bring in baby pictures. Post the pictures on the board. Everyone will enjoy looking at the photos and laughing at each other. It's fun to guess who's who. It also shows that no matter where anyone is in the hierarchy of the facility, everyone started out as someone's baby.
- Create a stress-free zone for when employees are feeling burned out. It doesn't have to be a big space -- even just a hallway outside a conference room. Consider putting in a hammock or a lounge chair and perhaps an inflatable palm tree and picture of the ocean.
- Schedule activities you enjoy in your day and week. Buy one perfect flower, and keep it in your workspace to view. Take a walk outside during a break. Take a mini visualization vacation and go where you want to go, even if it's only for five minutes.
- Plan a visit to the zoo, the movies, the gym, a spa or a local cafe. Go window-shopping by yourself or with a friend. What's important is having something to look forward to doing after work.
You can't control everything, but you can control what you are able to and forget the rest. You can beat burnout before it beats you. You just have to try.